At the NCM Institute, we have something we call the “35 Responsibilities of the Service Manager.” Today, I would like to go over six of the sales management responsibilities from this list. These processes are not in any particular order of importance, but realize that if you want to become a world class service organization, they will all be important.
The "Road to the Sale" Process
In the sales management category, the first process the management team must own is the Road to the Sale process.
I’m sure your dealership has a fully documented Road to the Sale process for the sales department and that every salesperson can recite it back to you and they follow it to maximize your sales department closing percentage. But, do you have a documented Road to a Sale for the service department? In our nearly 4,000 dealerships that we process data for, the average service advisor generates more labor gross profit per month than the average new and pre-owned sales person generates selling vehicles. Consistently, the advisors average about 20% more gross profit than the vehicle salesperson. This disparity is much larger when you consider the vehicle salespersons’ average includes the F&I gross profit generated, yet the service advisor’s average doesn’t include the parts gross profit they generate. With so much riding on the service advisor, shouldn’t they have a documented, trained, and followed Road to the Sale process to drive increased dollars per repair order and customer satisfaction?
Sales Training for the Service Staff
The second responsibility under the sales management category is sales training for the service staff. Performing consistent ... let me repeat that one word ... consistent sales training for all service customer contact personnel to improve their skills in recommending services, overcoming objectives, and closing the sale is a key, yet often neglected, responsibility. Unfortunately, too often service managers know how important this training is, but don’t know how to perform it effectively, so they just don’t do it at all. With this in mind, don’t be afraid to involve other people in this training. Whoever performs sales training for the new and pre-owned vehicle departments could be included for a portion of this. You might also consider some outside assistance. Your tire supplier will generally provide no-cost training on tire sales and presentation. Other suppliers offer sales training, just be sure their content and tactics match what you want teach.
Vehicle Walk Around Process
The third responsibility I would like to share is the Service Vehicle Walk Around process. Do you ensure the vehicle walk around process is part of your service sales culture? Do all of your advisors understand that performing a vehicle walk around with each client is a condition of employment? Many times when we talk about walk arounds, we never explain the “why” to our employees. They typically come to the conclusion that it is to look for damage on the vehicle and to “protect” the department. Though that can be a side benefit of the vehicle walk around process, the real reason for the walk around is to build the relationship with the customer. This is why you must have the customer present when preforming the vehicle walk around. Take the time to train your people on the real reason to do this and they will be more likely to perform it. Encourage them to use what we call the F.O.R.D. system during the walk around. The F.O.R.D. system is just an acronym standing for Family, Occupation, Recreation, and Dreams. When performing the walk around, teach your advisors to look for car seats, sporting equipment, bumper stickers, or other items that will give them insight into the customer’s interests and activities. Use these to start a relationship-building conversation. Remember, people purchase from people they like and trust. You must build that relationship, and it all starts during the vehicle walk around.
Menu Sales Process
The fourth sales management responsibility is the menu sales process. Do you have a menu sales process? Is it consistently followed by all of your service advisors? Do you track menu closing percentages versus opportunities? Let me define what NCM considers a menu opportunity. We consider a menu opportunity to be any vehicle that is within 1,000 miles, plus or minus, from its factory recommended service. In order to maximize this opportunity, you must build your menus on a competitive basis. You will need to price shop your competitors on this, particularly the franchised mass merchandizers and local independent repair facilities. In addition to selling the factory scheduled maintenance, you should also use the menus to support the selling of detailing, tires, accessories, and other ala cart items.
Today’s Special Board
The next responsibility I would like to cover is the "Today’s Special” board. You should have a professional, daily special board to offer items you need to sell seasonally, that have little activity, or that you wish to otherwise promote. Think of this as the gum, candy, and magazines in the register line at the market. The items displayed on the daily specials board are typically impulse items along with reminders of oft forgot items like wiper blades, detailing, or tire rotations.
Item number six is tire merchandising. You must make sure your customers immediately see that you are actively in the tire business as soon as they enter your service write-up area. Having a great looking tire display with prominently displayed prices greatly assists in the selling of tires. Tires are a major point of defection for clients. We must make sure they know you are in the tire business and are highly competitive. If you price match, make sure that is evident to the customer, and is used to build value in the way you price your tires.
As you can see, these six sales management responsibilities are very important to achieving success in day-to-day operations and will set your business apart from the competition. Please join us next week as we discuss five more sales management responsibilities. As you work towards taking your dealership to the next level, feel free to reach out to NCM, and all of its professionals, to see how we can help.