-by Sally Whitesell
Most dealerships are used to focusing most of their time and attention on their sales team and profits from the front end. Unfortunately the profits made on each sale is dwindling and new car sales are down. Lost revenue on your front end makes everyone want to tighten their belts. The question is: Where do we make the cuts? Should we pull from advertising, personnel, amenities, vendors, or employee training? As a trainer who went through the recession of 2008, let me paint a picture for you to consider based on over twenty three years of working with dealerships who make regular training a priority, and with dealerships who don’t.
Look at your backside.
As opportunities for profit are decreasing in the front end they are increasing in the back end. Even if you don’t sell as many cars or make as much profit on the sale, you can make a lot through the life of the vehicle as your clients spend on maintenance, repairs, parts, accessories and maintenance plans. You see, if people aren’t buying new cars, then they must take care of their older cars. We’ll begin to see cars with higher mileage, which equals opportunity. The key is creating a loyal clientele by delivering an excellent service experience.
Here are a few questions to help you evaluate if you are ready for this transition:
- Have you put as much effort into training your service team as you have your new car sales team?
- Do they know how to sell service, parts, repairs, accessories and maintenance plans?
- Is their primary focus on customer retention by delivering excellent service?
- Are they compensated fairly for a job well done and hitting their goals?
Advisors see more clients face to face in a day than any other sales representative. One well-trained service advisor can bring in as much revenue as a sales person who sells over 21 cars a month! (See my previous blog “Your Million Dollar Chair“) Now, more than ever, it’s time to view our service department as the land of opportunity!
Don’t make the mistake of failing to recognize that your service advisor’s communication and presentation skills are critical to your dealership’s success.
You can’t afford to settle for an average-performing advisor any more than you would settle for an average-performing new car sales representative. So how do give your service team the tools they need to become sales professionals? My experience has taught me that effective training must consist of the following:
- Process-oriented training that’s easy to follow and implement
- Teaching advisors to deliver benefit-based presentations with the focus on personalizing and closing the sale
- On-the drive coaching, critiquing and role-playing so advisors can implement changes immediately
- Personal and professional goal setting
- Consistent sessions, monitoring and encouragement
- Engaging material to stimulate growth and prevent boredom
Many service advisors have never been given a complete process for the write-up through delivery. Our training provides guidelines and word tracks for every selling situation. We encourage advisors to tailor them to their own personalities while maintaining your processes. This results in your clients receiving a consistent message each time they come in for service. They should know what to expect from the moment they enter the drive until the car is complete and professionally delivered. This will eliminate stress and confusion for all parties and build the loyalty you need to make up for the lost profits at the point of sale.
Can you really afford to stop training and ignore your backend? Maybe you should cut the donuts instead!