It’s no secret in automotive retail fixed operations that average sales per repair order measured as hours sold per repair order (HPRO) have remained stagnant for some time.
Factory paid scheduled maintenance, the quality of the vehicles and the time or mileage between services (among other factors) have all contributed to fewer sales opportunities in the service drive. With all this downward pressure on sales per repair order, how do you take John Q. Advisor from average or below average to a service sales superstar?
The best place to start is not with John Q., but with what you have done to get him up to speed. There is a reason we do it this way — we have total control over the conditions, the processes, the training, the management and the time we expend on John Q. to help him meet performance metrics.
Start with answering these 10 questions:
1. Have I clearly defined the performance standards the employee must meet and have I clearly communicated those requirements to them?
2. Have I measured those standards on an ongoing and regular basis and coached or counseled the employee based on their individual performance?
3. Have I made training available?
4. Have I determined that the employee has been completely trained in their duties?
5. Have I observed the employee in the performance of their duties?
6. Have I determined that the employee is allowed to perform the duties of their job?
7. Have I determined that the employee has the ability to perform the duties of their job?
8. Have I determined why the employee can’t perform the duties of their job?
9. Have I met with the employee and discussed their performance, attitude and behavior?
10. Have I made the best decision possible given the circumstances surrounding the employee and their performance and their attitude?
Answering these 10 “Have I” questions in the order they are presented will give you a complete and total picture of the advisor and their performance exactly as you have led them.
It is a self-diagnostic tool to determine where you can make changes and improve your team’s performance with a self-prescribed series of action steps you can take to correct John’s performance.
Let’s give it a try.
Haven’t spent any time coaching John Q.? Start a daily coaching session on his previous day’s results.
Haven’t provided training? Train him.
Haven’t observed him and watched his service sales process? Get out there on the service drive and make observations.
See? It’s easy. What is hard is making those corrections and keeping John Q. focused on performance.
Keep working your way down this self-diagnostic list. And then lather, rinse, repeat. If you do this for every advisor, in a relatively short period of time you will have corrected conditions that prevent your advisors from achieving superior service sales.
This self-diagnostic tool pinpoints exactly what action steps you need to take to get John Q. moving in the right direction. If increasing sales per repair order is your goal, then use this tool to get to work on the things you have direct control over.
The next step is how you communicate to John what changes are necessary to improve his performance. And that starts with a positive confrontation of the facts and effective communication of the expectations.
Keep in mind that there are many variations of leadership styles. You might identify yourself as one the four basic styles: authoritarian, paternalistic, democratic or lassez-faire — or maybe you are a combination of these styles or even something else. Each has strength and weaknesses regarding how effective you are as a communicator.
Remember that communications are the currency of leadership. It’s what we spend to get things done.
While it might have been OK 25 years ago to be authoritarian and uncommunicative, you cannot lead that way today. There is nothing wrong with any of these styles if you practice positive confrontation and effective communication.
Positive confrontation is the conversation you have regarding the facts surrounding John Q’s performance. If you want an increase in hours per repair order you must be able to talk to John about what you have observed and why you think he is struggling in sales. That needs to be based on facts.
“John, for the past two days I have observed you working with 22 service customers. In those 22 encounters, seven times you did not perform a walk-around, 15 times you did not present a maintenance menu and for all 22 you did not explain the multipoint inspection process. Is there some reason you are not following the service drive sales process?”
Positive confrontation is not about blame, it is a fact-finding behavioral change mission to confront John about his performance and tell him what is keeping his sales numbers below minimum standards.
Effective communication means listening to what problems John has in carrying out the service sales process and telling him what steps you are going to take to get him the support he needs to succeed. Closing the loop is letting him know what standards of performance he will be measured on from this point forward.
“John, let me be clear. From today my expectation is that every service customer will get a complete and thorough walk-around, a maintenance menu with the items they need based on time and mileage clearly explained to them and a complete explanation of the multipoint inspection process. Is there any reason you can’t meet that expectation?”
The last step revolves around rewards. There are so many ways people feel rewarded and validated that this could be a 10,000-word essay just on this subject. Rewards are just what the word means, “something given in return for something done.”
When John Q. hits new sales per repair order numbers, it is important to him and your team to see a reward for a job well done. This reward can take many forms.
Monetary, parking perks, gift card, personal letter to John and his significant other, escalation bonus plan…whatever fits your dealership and your team’s expectations.
The number one thing about rewards is it must be consistent. You may have an increase in performance and there may be a concerted effort to stay atop the leader board in hours sold per repair order by John Q, but once the reward program becomes inconsistent, the morale will fall and there will be hard feelings that may have lasting effects if John Q. is still working in your service drive.
Inconsistent rewards programs are one of the largest contributing factors to employee churn. Ineffective managers are another reason people leave a dealership and a symptom of that disease is the “ever-changing bonus plan.” Helping John Q. Advisor change from an average service sales advisor into a service sales performance machine may seem like daunting task but when you apply these action steps and follow through on your commitment to making a change, you will have lasting results in service advisor sales per repair order performance.