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Sally Whitesell is president of sw Service Solutions, which offers in-store training nationwide and Fixed Ops University; engaging online training for managers and service advisors. Sally brings over 21 years of on-the-drive experience to her training, seminars and books, which include her highly sought after “What Drives Women?” program and her book, “Words That Sell Service.” And new for 2019: the ultimate sales tool: the sw Service Solutions Maximizing Menu.

Terminating someone is never pleasant and not to be taken lightly. As a former service manager, I only had to fire one service advisor — and I did not make that decision lightly. However, in most cases it is the employee’s choice to get fired. What do I mean? Certainly it’s the manager’s responsibility to train employees and develop processes. But anyone with experience in training will tell you that some people refuse to follow processes, refuse to try new things and refuse to step outside of their comfort zone. Employees often resist change because they think their way is best, they have of the fear of failure or they just don’t care enough about their performance to make the effort. It is their choice.

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If you analyze the limitations that come from such attitudes, this becomes apparent: These people are deciding how profitable your service department is going to be.

When you invest in training, tools and processes for your store, you can’t allow one person to ignore your efforts and goals for the department. They will lead everyone else to believe that participation is optional. In a manner of speaking, they just fired you as a teacher, decision maker and a leader in front of all the other advisors. This attitude spreads like a virus. When this happens, the advisors are the ones running the drive, and therefore they will be the ones who decide how much money you will make. We can only hope they’ll choose good processes, but usually they choose based on their individual comfort zones. They are running their own business within your business, which causes confusion to your customers and lost revenue for the department.


Whenever any employee is allowed to ignore company policies and mandatory processes your authority as a leader is diminished to the point of being completely ineffective. This means any investment you have made in training is wasted.

In order to implement training and start new processes that have been proven to generate profits, it has to be all or nothing. There are a few important steps that are imperative to getting desirable results:

  1. Hold a kick-off meeting letting everyone know that you are investing in each of them, both individually and as a team. This will be received much better than an abrupt change.
  2. Offer the training and tools needed for them to follow your processes in a professional manner while meeting your standards. Remember, one of the reasons people avoid change is because of fear. By providing ongoing training, role-plays and encouragement, we can check that one off of the list and instill confidence.
  3. Create a detailed document that clearly outlines processes and minimum standards. This will eliminate any confusion regarding your expectations, and your HR department will appreciate this if disputes come up or termination is necessary.
  4. Review the document with each advisor in a positive meeting. Explain why you have chosen your processes and how it will benefit everyone in the department. Answer questions and do the math regarding the increases they can expect with a full effort.
  5. Outline the consequences of not following the processes or meeting your standards for the position. Processes without standards and consequences will not be followed and your advisors will go back to business as usual.
  6. Require a signature to validate that the document has been reviewed and your employee understands and agrees to follow your processes.
  7. Enforce the consequences immediately when needed and offer more coaching and training to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
  8. Hold performance reviews often to praise achievements and discuss challenges. Never make your advisors try to guess where they stand. Your entire team needs to either feel appreciated or understand the work that is needed to continue to earn their position with your company.

​Now, are you ready to take charge of your department’s growth and be personally responsible for overseeing that your procedures are followed on your drive? Our goal is always to develop new talent, but if you have one bad apple, you know what to do. As Benjamin Franklin said, “The rotten apple spoils his companion.” Sometimes letting that apple/advisor go will open the door to new growth for the rest of your team.



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