-by Sally Whitesell
I have been hired numerous times to perform training in stores that are not mentally or physically prepared for growth. Mentally, because their advisors think they are doing well enough and don’t see the growth potential in their position. Physically, because the shop is already full, or scheduled work is backed up for days.
In order to help you get the best return on your training investment for your Fixed Ops Department, you need to be ready for the added workload. Have no fear: I have prepared a checklist for you to use before your training begins.
- Do you have a strong, loyal management team that isn’t afraid of change?
This may seem like a silly question, but it is one of the most critical ones. If your managers are sending out resumes, they will not be 100% committed to implementing new processes and managing training. You need a manager that is excited to grow and willing to change. They need to take the time to learn the program being presented so they can continue to coach and hold their advisors accountable. The more managers that attend training, the more likely you are to get the biggest possible return. I have one client that encourages his GMs to attend so they can walk through the service lane and know exactly what it should look like. Anytime a manager is too busy to attend the classes, we see a big red flag!
- Does your team understand the purpose of the training?
Often managers and advisors will take training as a sign that they are not doing a good job or that they are not appreciated. This starts everything off with a negative connotation. We recommend that every class start with a “Congratulations!” to your team. Your team needs to know that they are so important, 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 trainers/consultants arrive. Get everyone excited that you are all working together to increase their income and the store’s growth!
- Do your advisors and technicians see the potential for growth?
Often managers do a terrific job of setting goals for the shop, CSI and sales but what about your advisor’s personal goals? What motivates and excites your advisors as individuals? Have you ever sat down one on one with each advisor to find out what they are trying to achieve or purchase this month or this year? Try having personal meetings and reviewing your pay plan while plugging in their numbers. See how much more they would need to make in order for their goal a become reality. Then, break it down to what it would actually take per RO. Advisors tend to forget that the little add-ons can lead to a big increases overall.
I have encouraged advisors to bring in pictures of items they are saving up for. Find out how much they need to save for vacations, college funds etc. Have them place that picture at their workstation and celebrate with them when it is accomplished! A Harvard business study shows that when a goal is written down and a plan is formed for reaching it, we are 1000 times more likely to accomplish it than the typical “maybe someday” attitude.
- Is your 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 the work to be completed, but your advisors will be hesitant to sell if they don’t feel confident in your shop’s ability to complete the service in a reasonable time. Repairs are different in that your guests understand the need for time. But maintenance-only customers should be done in a timely manner, and the advisors should be able to predict how long basic services will take. This means we must have open communication between the shop and the advisors. If someone is behind, or you are short staffed, advisors must know so they don’t give risky promise times to your guests. Encourage them to follow the rule of “Under Promise and Over Deliver!”
- Do you have preventative maintenance menus so your team and trainers know what you would like presented to your clients on a consistent basis?
Before we can teach them how to sell, they 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? Selling without a menu is like selling an invisible product. We role-play with advisors in stores across the country every week, and are always surprised by the variations in what is sold to us when we give the exact same scenario and mileage. Just imagine how your guests must feel! I am convinced this is a primary reason clients distrust our industry.
- Don’t use your training as a way to eliminate people you already know need to go.
Training should always be a positive team effort. Many times, I have been told that I was the last effort to help someone become successful. While I am flattered and have saved some struggling employees, usually your instincts are right. If you have someone who is trying to grow and succeed then yes, give your trainer a chance to help them. But if your advisor has a bad attitude or other chronic issue, replace them before you move forward to develop your staff. We can teach techniques and put in successful processes, but we can’t teach personality and happiness. It really is true that one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch.
- Make sure you implement the accountability processes your trainer recommends.
The only way to make your training stick is to follow through 100%. Make it clear to your entire Fixed Ops department that you are creating a new culture in your store. Everyone needs to be committed to receive the rewards of happier customers, a more peaceful environment, and of course growth opportunities within the company. Keep in mind, if you don’t follow through with excitement and enthusiasm, your team won’t either. All you will be left with is a few good ideas.
Make your investment pay off by preparing your entire team for growth and development before you implement new processes. Your success depends on your ability to find a trainer who can teach, coach and encourage your team while presenting interesting, relevant material. Another year is right around the corner, so start preparing for another record-setting year today!