Service Advisor Myths

Common Service Department Myths

There are a few myths out there that simply will not die. The reason they won’t die is because these myths are used as excuses by those who do not want to work, and instead want to cruise along on the road of mediocrity that leads to nowhere.

Myth One: “We can’t sell preventative maintenance and repairs because of where we live.”

This is one of the biggest cop outs there is. It is blatantly false because where you live has nothing to do with the service needs of vehicles.  If you consider the model that assumes that all vehicles from a given manufacturer come from the same factory, are built by the same people, in the same year, and come with the exact same owners-manual, then what could your zip code possibly have to do with whether or not a vehicle needs service? It doesn’t.

As for repairs, local driving conditions may slightly accelerate or decelerate repair needs.  Things like extreme weather, adverse climate, mountainous terrain, or flat dessert roads, may have some effect on a vehicle’s performance, but as a rule, when a vehicle needs a repair, the customer is going to have the repair done, somewhere by someone. If they don’t, the car will severely underperform or may cease to run entirely.

I have seen this myth perpetuated too many times over the years and used as excuse for poor numbers.  When I see it, I am forced to prove that it is a false belief.  I can always find a business in the area who is selling the necessary maintenance and repair. Why do people use this excuse? Because they are lazy and do not know how to sell and handle their customers. Instead of making the effort to figure out why they are not achieving their numbers and defining solutions on how to improve productivity, they settle into a life of underperformance and underachievement. My advice? If your subordinates are using this myth as a way to get you off their backs, have a professional do an independent assessment of your shop. They will quickly show you all the opportunities being wasted.  Once you see what you have been missing, change lanes and get on the highway to success. Adopt a new system of training and accountability and go to work to get the sales you deserve. This will ensure that your customers get the services and repairs they need to keep their vehicles running so that they can enjoy the benefits of a reliable and well-serviced vehicle.  NOTE: Your building has virtually nothing to do with sales.  New, old, drive, no drive – it truly doesn’t matter. It is the people inhabiting the building who will make difference in your business.

Myth Two: “I can’t get my advisors/managers to sell.”

If you have not said this in front of your boss – DON’T!  Stating this to your boss is a blatant admission that you have no control over your shop and that the inmates are running the asylum. In short, you are ineffective as a leader.  You are allowing your subordinates to dictate to you and your boss how successful you are going to be and how much money you will make. By subscribing to this myth, you have put yourself firmly on the path to getting fired.

If you are the business owner and use this myth/excuse, then sign yourself up for a leadership course and learn the success and profit principles of running a business and maximizing opportunity. You are the owner. You want everyone to like you.  You want to be the nice guy. I get it, but as the owner of your business, you owe it to your customers to deliver the highest quality service and products. If your employees are not doing this, YOU ARE FAILING YOUR CUSTOMERS.

Solution? I once had a dealer who had me conduct an assessment of his sales in service. I found that, with parts included, his service drive was leaving a conservative estimate of 1.6 million dollars of sales on the drive.  Furthermore, there was likely twice that much being left on the service drive. I even went so far as to work his drive for a week to prove that the numbers I was talking about where indeed possible. He still felt he could not get his people to commit.  He was more in love with being well liked, than being highly profitable. With that understanding, I set up my process on his drive and convinced him to hire a lane manager that had total control over the advisors in both the main shop and express services. The lane manager was subject to heavy accountability, but could not be overridden by the service manager. We set up the perfect good cop, bad cop scenario.  The dealer got to remain popular and the lane manager took the heat. In the end, they both became wildly popular and respected by the employees. The dealer, because he was a nice guy.  The lane manager, because he nearly eliminated all “heat cases” which greatly improved survey scores, retention, effective labor rates, and sales.  This allowed the same service team to make substantially more money with substantially less stress.  Sure, it cost $96K annually to employ that lane manager. But the additional few million dollars a year earned on the service drive, more than made up for the investment in the lane manager.  The near complete elimination of disgruntled customers alone, made the investment well worth it.

There are additional myths that I will be discussing in future articles. The two discussed here are myths maintained by lazy employees to sell leaders on why the numbers are low, and results are not delivered. The people that I have met who believe in these myths will fight tooth and nail to sell you and sell you on the validity of the myths.  In a way, this is good.  Now that we know your people can sell, we need to redirect that energy away from selling you and toward selling to the people they are being paid to sell to. This will put you on the path to achieving the maximum sales results you deserve.

P.S. One more myth: There are those who, after reading this, will try to sell you on the myth that I am full of s#!t.  But the fact is, I have stood personally on over 700 service drives as an individual and over 3,500 as a company.  I have 32 years of experience and reams of cold hard data that proves I am right.  Another myth eliminated.

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