old-fashioned chair on black background

Your Million Dollar Chair

-by Sally Whitesell for Fixed Ops Magazine.

Have you ever put a price tag on each of your service advisor’s chairs? Well, you should! It’s probably worth much more than you realize. This chair has the potential to be the most valuable seat in your dealership. Just think about it. The person in this chair gets more selling opportunities in a day than any of your sales team members get in a week. Their customers come in for one reason: to buy! Nobody enters a service drive just to look around. They come in because they have a need and they have already chosen your store to fulfill their need.

It’s a dream scenario for a sales person. The phone rings constantly with prospects, and buyers are lining up to see you every day. But here’s the problem; most service advisors are not sales people. Most haven’t had any sales training. If they have, it was usually a one-time event, not a consistent practice that is encouraged with daily meetings and goal setting.

After you look at this math, you may want to change that:

If your advisor writes 15 ROs per day at 1.5 Hrs per RO (The NADA average) they are producing 22.5 hours per day

@ $90 Effective Labor rate, they are selling $2025 of labor
+ 80% parts to labor ratio, add $1620 for parts
= Selling $3645 per day
$3645 x 21 work days in a month = $76,545 per month

$76,545 x 12 months = $ 918,540.00 Total Sales Annually per chair!

While that’s an impressive number, we have to ask “what if?”

  • What if we had one focused training session per week?
  • What if we had morning huddles where we offered motivation, incentives and competitions?
  • What if we set goals and tracked performance on a big board?
  • What if we immediately rewarded individual and group performance and achievements?
  • What if we actually made it fun and interesting by implementing new methods and training exercises?
  • What if we treated our advisors like a sales team?

The objection I most often hear is; “We don’t have the time or the budget for consistent trainers.” The following “What if” may change your mind.

What if your advisors continued writing 15 ROs/day, but production increased to 2.0 Hrs per RO? Advisors will now be producing 30 hours per day.

@ $90 Effective Labor rate, they are now selling $2700 of labor
+ 80% parts to labor ratio, add $2160 for parts
= Selling $4860 per day
$4860 X 21 work days = $102.060.00

$102.060 X 12 months = $1,224,720.00 Total Sales Annually per chair

This is an increase of $306,180.00 per chair!

With the right people in your chairs receiving expert customer service and sales training, 2.0 hours is a very attainable number. Many of our trainees write 2.5 and higher. This is a result of management that is 100% committed to team development through consistent training. And there’s a bonus! If you commit to consistent sales training for your team, not only will you increase your sales, you will increase your customer retention, customer satisfaction and even employee retention.

It’s important to focus on numbers, but we have to focus on people first. Without professional, selling advisors, your chairs are simply seats. When we equip our employees with the skills they need to be successful, then continually challenge and reward them, they’re much more likely to stay and make a profit for you. One of the biggest reasons for high turnover rates in the service department is that we don’t equip our people for the challenges they will face daily. Advisors must be confident in their processes, sales abilities and even their support staff in order to handle customers professionally. This is why it’s critical to provide sales training to your entire staff to help them to develop their skills.

Can you afford NOT to invest time and money in your team’s development?

Becoming a Professional Service Advisor is a trade skill that requires time and training to develop. This position requires expertise in communication, reading body language, knowing how to sell to different personality types, listening skills and a whole lot of empathy. While some people have a natural ability in many of these areas, most need the commitment of their managers to help them develop all of the skills needed to become long-term successful selling advisors. If we take the time to focus on training and developing our people first, the numbers will follow.


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