During each of my NCM 20 Group meetings, I encourage members to come up with ideas to improve Fixed Ops business and profits. As you prepare to close out 2016 and prepare for the coming year, I thought I would share their top 12 insights:
- Add a sales manager to the service drive. Dealerships are adding this position to improve service drive performance and consistent management of processes. This new personnel should also enhance sales through training and immediate T.O.’s for turned down sales.
- Increase entry-level pay to attract higher-quality staff. One way that fixed operations directors are improving the quality of their applicants is by offering higher starting pay. Plus, promoting from within is more successful when starting with a higher quality individual!
- Leverage Amazon Prime to negotiate with local vendors. Check all outside quotes against Amazon Prime to ensure the lowest pricing; ask local vendors to price match.
- Create body shop installation kits. Build parts kits with assigned part numbers for standard installations. The kits should include sealers, sanding discs, tape, clips and any other needed items. Because insurance companies typically pay for items with a part number, this should simplify the payment process.
- Get involved in local high schools and encourage kids to consider technician careers. I think everyone agrees that we need to attract more talent to our field. Some of my 20 Group members work with high schools in their communities to help students learn about options for automotive careers. If you do this, be sure to explain the great earning potential of fixed ops work.
- Set monthly goals for technician and advisor production; review them during weekly 1-on-1 meetings. Make sure every team member is contributing to department goals by working with them on individual achievements. During weekly sessions, review performance and coach anyone who hasn’t met their objectives. A good starting place is increasing technician production by five hours per week.
- Track closing ratios on failed items by advisor. Failed items on multi-point inspections have to be repaired. The question is, will they be serviced at your dealership or a competitor? Monitor which service advisors close these items successfully, then coach the ones who do not. Consider service advisor training for those team members needing more help. (NCMi has a great course.)
- Get phone training for all front-line staff. We may live in a digital age, but the majority of business is still conducted by phone in fixed operations. Training staff to handle incoming calls properly will increase business opportunities.
- Make expense analysis and reduction a priority. A common worry from fixed ops directors is in our meetings is that they have gotten lax on expense management. Almost universally, my members feel it is time to analyze all billings and look for reductions from their vendors.
- Train service advisors in sales. Fixed operations directors are running service departments as sales departments, so focus on improving the skills and performance of their service advisors. An excellent internal training resource is your dealership’s sales manager.
- Require advisors and managers to pre-write repair orders at the end of the day. Reviewing all scheduled work helps make sure parts are available and ready for customers. Management can also use the advanced notice to make recommendations about the proper word tracks for increased sales.
- Track parts fill rate by repair order. Having only 6 of 7 need parts for a repair order is zero fill rate for the repair order because you were unable to complete the work.
Learn more about Kirk Felix and how he and his NCM colleagues can help your dealership through 20 Groups and in-dealership consulting.