What if all of your advisors sold an additional half-hour to an hour per ticket while increasing customer retention? How would this impact your shop’s ability to perform repairs and service in “a reasonable amount of time,” as many manufacturers’ surveys suggest? I know what you’re thinking: “Wow! I’d love to have that problem!” But what if you could have the additional sales and serve your customers in a reasonable amount of time?
I often perform training in stores not prepared for growth. The advisors aren’t mentally prepared because they think they are doing well enough and aren’t able to see the growth potential of their position. The store isn’t physically ready because the shop is already full or backed up for days at a time. Let’s be real for a minute here: A two-hour oil change and tire rotation is never going to win a customer’s loyalty, no matter how great the advisor is.
In order to help you get the best return on any training investment for your fixed-ops department, you need to be prepared for growth. Are you ready?
Questions to ask yourself to see if you’re prepared for growth:
1. Do I have a strong management team who isn’t afraid of change? — You need managers who are teachable and excited for new opportunities. They should take the time to master the program being presented so they can coach their advisors and hold them accountable. We always say, “The more managers who attend our training, the more likely we are to get you the biggest possible return on your investment.” Any time a manager is too busy to attend our classes, we see a big red flag.
2. Does my team understand the purpose of the training? — Sometimes managers and advisors will take the fact that you scheduled training as a sign that you don’t think they are doing a good job. This starts everything off on the wrong foot. We start every class with a “Congratulations!” to your team. We want them to know that, because they are so important to you, you have decided to invest in them as individuals and as a group. This would be a good conversation for you to have with them before the trainers and consultants arrive. Get everyone excited and let them know this is serious. You are all working together to increase their income and the store’s growth.
3. Do my advisors and technicians see the potential for growth? — Managers do a terrific job of setting goals for the shop, CSI and sales, but what about personal goals? Do you know what motivates and excites your advisors individually? Try having personal meetings and reviewing your pay plan while plugging in their numbers. See how much more income they would need in order to make their personal goals a reality. Then, break that down per RO. Advisors can tend to forget that the little add-ons can lead to a big overall increase when presented consistently.
I have encouraged advisors to bring in pictures of their goals and write down dollar amounts needed for vacations, college funds, etc. This is a constant reminder for them when they place that picture at their workstation. Be sure to celebrate with them when they accomplish their goals!
4. Is my shop staffed and prepared to handle more customer pay maintenance and repairs while continuing to do quality work? — A good trainer can teach your staff how to increase their sales and even buy time for maintenance to be completed, but your advisors will be hesitant to sell more if they don’t feel confident in your technicians’ abilities or the flow of your shop. Repairs are different because your guests usually understand the time involved. Maintenance-only customers, however, need to be handled in a timely manner. Your advisors should be able to predict how long basic services will take. This means we must have constant communication between the shop and the advisors. If someone is behind, or you are short-staffed, the advisors need to know so they don’t give risky promise times to your guests. Encourage them to follow the old rule: Under-promise and over-deliver.
5. Do I have preventative maintenance menus? — Before we can teach them how to sell, your advisors must know what to sell and when to sell it. You would never ask a salesperson to sell a car without knowing how it is equipped. Why would we expect advisors to sell without knowing what is recommended, and when? Selling without a menu is like selling an invisible product. We regularly role-play with advisors in stores across the country and are always surprised by the variations in what is sold to us when we give the exact same scenario and mileage. Your guests want to know what to expect. This can be achieved with preventative maintenance menus.
6. Have I eliminated the people I already know need to go? — Training is meant to help good advisors become even better advisors. Many times, I have been told that our training was the last-ditch effort to improve an advisor with a poor work ethic or bad attitude. While I am flattered, and have saved some struggling employees, usually your instincts are right. If you have someone unwilling to work hard, or with a bad attitude, then replace them before you invest in your staff. If you have someone who is truly trying to grow and succeed, then yes, give your trainer a chance to help them do so. We can teach techniques and successful processes, but we can’t teach a good personality. One bad apple can spoil the bunch.
7. Have I implemented accountability processes? — The only way to make your training stick is to keep your advisors accountable to use what they’ve been taught. Training a group of advisors and then leaving them on their own is a recipe for failure. Make it clear to your entire fixed-ops department that you are creating a new culture in your store. Everyone must be committed to the new processes in order to receive the rewards of happier customers, a more peaceful environment, and of course, growth opportunities within the company. Keep in mind that if you don’t follow through with excitement and enthusiasm your team won’t either, and all you will be left with is a few good ideas.
If you answered “Yes” to all of these questions, congratulations! You are poised for growth and success. If you answered “No” to any of these questions, know that putting in a little time to prepare will pay off with big dividends.