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Your Service Manager’s Success

What would your day look like if you were operating in a proactive fashion vs. a reactive one?

Kristin Williams is the dealer development manager for DealerPRO Training

Being Proactive Today Prevents Reacting Tomorrow

If you want to get better at what you do, you read articles (like this one), consult with other people in your industry or follow industry experts’ advice and recommendations. These are all, by the way, very proactive ways of spending your time. But often times, looking at another industry and how they’ve tackled similar issues gives you a fresh perspective and a clear picture of what you need to do differently moving forward. 

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Let’s take a brief look at the restaurant industry and how their proactive approach to customer service can be applied to your service department. Have you ever had a restaurant manager (usually dressed a notch above the wait staff/servers) come to your table after you’ve dug into your meal and ask, “How is everything tonight?” It’s pretty standard practice in the food service industry and those four words convey and accomplish a great deal:

1. Gives the customer an opportunity to share their disappointment with the meal or the server.

2. Gives the customer an opportunity to share their pleasure with the meal or the server.

3. Shows customers you care by giving them personal attention from the manager on duty.

4. A pleasant interaction that enhances the restaurant experience.

This is a proactive approach to customer service that not only benefits the customer, but also benefits the employees and, ultimately, the overall performance of the kitchen, the staff and their customer loyalty. The term win-win comes to mind.


As service department managers, anything that accomplishes a win-win for both your customers and your employees is worth hearing more about. The “drinking from a fire hose” approach so often employed in the service department doesn’t amount to many win-wins without a lot of lost time, lost effort and, as a result, lost dollars. 

From technician shortages that pull managers into the shop and into the scheduling/dispatch process, to grumpy customers with immediate concerns, the only process that is consistent for a service manager is the process of getting up each day and reacting to your customer concerns and departmental needs as they arise on a daily basis. 


What would your day look like if you were operating in a proactive fashion vs. a reactive one? How would this impact your customer’s experience? Would you be happier in your management job? Would this happier disposition trickle down to your entire team? And what about the impact on productivity and profitability? The benefits are endless really!

What prevents you from being more proactive? How many of these boxes can you check?

1. Do you plan your task list for tomorrow before you go home for the night?

2. Do you have daily (one-minute) meetings with each advisor and each technician at the beginning of each day?

3. Do you review the same performance reports daily (technician performance summary; advisor performance summary) and review them with each team member … every day?


4. Do you check special order parts and make sure calls are made to schedule them in?

5. If you have a BDC (or appointment coordinator), do you meet with your reps every day to review any shop changes that impact schedule availability for tomorrow?

6. Have you spot checked 10 ROs, per advisor, per day, to identify successes/sales and identify missed opportunities/sales?

7. Do you spot check MPI sheets to make sure technicians are making thorough, accurate MPIs of customer vehicles?

8. How many customers do you talk to while they’re in your drive? Ask them how their service was, thank them for their business, etc.?


9. Do you make it a point to catch someone on your team doing something well and thank them for it, or tell them how important and helpful it is to the overall departmental success?

10. Do you touch base with your general manager/dealer about your department … what you’re doing well, where you’re improving and ask for any help he/she might offer?

This is not an exhaustive list when it comes to a service manager’s daily “to do’s.” No doubt, there will be situations that come up that steal your time, whether it’s customer concerns, filling in when short-staffed, general manager meetings or otherwise. I mean, part of being proactive includes planning for the unexpected! But don’t let your job and your time manage you … this business is about people. Start managing your people with a proactive approach and watch their performance meet your expectations every day!

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