“Is your customer-pay traffic increasing, stagnant or decreasing? Are your CSI scores above average? How about your net profit in your service and parts departments? Is it a minimum of 20% of gross profit? Well?” – Don Reed, CEO, DealerPRO Training
Do You Have a Fixed Ops Sales Team?
Based on what I’m seeing in the marketplace, I believe the answer is a solid “NO.” In fact, many advisors and managers look at selling in the service drive as a bad thing! Yet these are all important factors in making this year a better year than last year.
So how do you go about building a “fixed ops sales team”? It’s really no different than what you’re currently doing on the showroom floor and out on the blacktop with your sales team. It all begins with training everyone on the “Road to a Sale,” as follows:
- Meet and greet the customer
- Qualify their wants and needs
- Select a product or service
- Give a feature/benefit presentation
- Demonstrate the product or service
- Prepare a written proposal
- Ask for the sale
- Overcome objections
- Turn over to a sales manager
- Deliver the product or service
- Ask for referrals
- Follow up
These 12 steps have worked pretty well for your sales teams for decades now and will produce closing ratios in the range of 25% to 30% or even higher for top performers. Rest assured these same 12 steps will produce similar results for your fixed ops sales team, and it’s not uncommon for a service salesperson to maintain a 30% to 50% closing ratio.
- Meet and greet the customer. How about a smile along with a “Good morning, welcome to our dealership, what brought you here today?” Sell the customer on the fact that you’re glad they’re here and you greatly appreciate their business. Make sure your advisors have appointments scheduled at 15-minute intervals so they can spend some quality time with each customer. You’ve heard the old saying about “first Impressions”? The CSI process has just begun.
- Qualify their wants and needs. Service advisors (salespeople) must be trained to be good listeners, understand body language and communicate effectively with their customers. Additionally, they must be able to ask qualifying questions that begin with the words who, what, where, why, how, when or tell me about. The answers to those questions beginning with those words will enable the advisor to accurately qualify their customers’ needs, write a proper repair order that communicates effectively to the technician the work to be done, and confirm to the customer your understanding of their needs. This becomes part of a vehicle walk-around with the customer.
- Select a product or service. A properly trained advisor (salesperson) must take the time to select products or services based on vehicle condition, mileage and service intervals and then advise the customer by making recommendations. Most customers have a concern or a request, but they do not know which products or services will correct their concern or fulfill their request. That is the advisor’s responsibility.
- Give a feature benefit presentation. On the blacktop, you want your sales team to present all of the features of the vehicle and explain the benefits of those features to build value in your product and distinguish it from the competitors’ product. Advisors must do the same thing. It’s called a menu presentation. Today, we have electronic menus online that enable an advisor to make visual presentations of service benefits with short videos along with a “hover” feature. The videos also have audio which guarantees the customer will hear the benefits of the product or service. These menus can be printed with pricing options for the customer to choose from. We know that when you give a customer multiple options to choose, they are most likely going to choose one. If, on the other hand, your administrative staff fails to offer menu presentations, you’ve guaranteed yourself a “one-item RO.” A properly designed menu will save your customers money over the ownership cycle and ensure they’re driving a reliable vehicle. It sounds like CSI is heading due north!
- Demonstrate the product or service. The videos mentioned above are great ways to demonstrate recommended services. Point-of-sale materials are another way to do this. I recently visited my dealer for some routine maintenance and, as I was standing at the cashier’s window, I noticed a display on the counter showing the benefits of replacing a cabin filter. Nice display, but what the heck is it doing at the cashier’s window? My RO is closed and I’m paying my bill, so what is the chance that I’m going to ask to buy one of those? Point-of-sale displays should be at “the point of sale.” Advisors should have these at or near their work stations to demonstrate the need for replacement. Product demonstration is actually no more than show and tell. Show the customer the product, tell them about the features and benefits, ask them to buy it.
- Prepare a written proposal. This can consist of more than one proposal for a service advisor. There is the primary item proposal on the original RO, plus the printed menu proposal, plus the estimate proposal for the primary item once diagnosed, plus the estimate proposal for any additional repairs/services found on the technician’s multi-point inspection. All of these proposals should always be in writing!
- Ask for the sale. If your sales team has followed all six steps outlined above, then this step will close the sale and “ring the cash register.” This step will not take a lot of time if you’ve followed the Road to a Sale. I like to point out that a good salesperson will spend about 80% of their time selling and only about 20% of their time closing. Your administrative staff will most likely spend 20% of their time selling, which of course makes closing more difficult, resulting in a very low closing ratio and a very high percentage of one-item ROs.
- Overcome objections. Just like on the showroom floor, this skill requires some serious training. The advisor must know how to identify the real objection as opposed to accepting excuses, which are not truthful. The advisor must always have a Plan B. The advisor must be able to justify a “yes.” I’ll save this subject for a future sales team article on overcoming objections.
- Turn over to a sales manager. Most of you probably do not have a sales manager in your service department, but you should. In smaller stores, this should be your service manager. In medium-sized stores, it could be a senior advisor who is a good closer. In larger operations, it should be a full-time position. Whenever an advisor gets a “no” from their customer on completing a mechanical repair, especially if it is safety- or performance-related, the advisor should turn this sales opportunity over to the sales manager, who should then make a thorough presentation to the customer on the benefits, improved safety and/or performance and ask for the sale again. Additionally, there will be times when “no” means the customer will pay more later when the mechanical concern becomes worse and possibly does additional damage to the vehicle. Lastly, the sales manager can verify that the advisor has properly or improperly presented the features and benefits to the customer. This process will of course increase sales as well as CSI if you’re selling the customer benefits and not just a price.
- Deliver the product or service. We call this the active delivery for our service sales team. Always bring the vehicle to the customer. Never send the customer to the vehicle! Review all lines on the RO – condition, cause, correction – along with the total charges. Set their next service appointment before they leave. Plant the seed for future service requirements and recommendations. Thank them for their business!
- Ask for referrals. As Tom Stuker once said, “Who do you know?” Train your advisors to ask this question to every customer: “Who do you know, maybe a friend or family member, possibly someone you work with that you think would benefit by bringing their vehicles to me for all of their service needs? Here at ABC Motors, we service ALL makes and models.” Great question if you’re starting a Quick Lube operation!
- Follow up. Every dealer has “customer declined repairs,” so these must be followed up with for future appointments. Maybe today it was a money issue, but in two weeks when they get paid, they can then afford to do it. You must also follow up with service reminders, seasonal specials, tire specials, etc. Your mission is to keep those customers coming back again and again.
Train your fixed ops sales team on the Road to a Sale and you will see your customer pay traffic increase, your CSI will be above average and your net profits will definitely beat last year’s.