By sw Service Solutions' Kristopher Hampton for Auto Success Magazine

Imagine for a moment that you are the coach of your favorite team and getting ready for a new season. You have the right players and talent to go all the way to the championship with hard work, focus, preparation, and training. This is going to be the year you’ll be the absolute best, the champions! Now imagine you receive a memo from the team owner. He has decided to save time and money by cutting practices down to one day a week. After all, the team seems to be playing well, ticket sales are up and everyone is making plenty of money. As a coach, you know it doesn’t matter how much money everyone is making now; if they aren’t training and practicing consistently, they won’t be making it for long!

Of course the team gets worse as the season rolls on. Players quit because they are making mistakes and getting beat up regularly. You are constantly struggling to find new players but your losing streak does not attract the best talent. The fan base depletes tremendously and you see huge revenue losses.

Can you see how ridiculous this scenario is? Despite the ridiculousness, it may be happening in your dealership. How many times have you said, “We are in a rebuilding stage?” This phrase usually means someone dropped the ball and didn’t build the team in the first place, or they didn’t train the team consistently.

If your first instinct is that you do not need to train because you are “good enough,” you will either become stagnant, or you’ll be rebuilding before the year’s end. If your first question is “how can we invest in our people so we become the best?” then this can be your best year yet. The economy is good, cars are selling, and our shops are full. It would be easy to become complacent, yet now is the time to not only look at your current increases but to also to realize the potential for growth.

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” —Benjamin Franklin

Most dealers and sales managers understand how critical regular training is for their sales team. Often they start the day with an inspirational team huddle, but what about your service advisors? How much time do you spend helping your service advisors prepare for each day and every customer interaction? Have you considered that they see more clients in a day than most of your sales people see in a week? Consider this: one bad service experience can keep your clients from coming back to buy their next new car. Yet this team is so busy that we often don’t make the time to work on skills and monitor processes on a regular basis. So how do we get this task accomplished?

Like all great coaches, you create a playbook!

First, settle on your processes. Start with the very basics, such as how you want your customers greeted on the drive or the phone. You may be surprised at how much even your most experienced team members need this basic training. Go through the entire check-in. Here is a brief example.

All advisors must:

  • Greet guests promptly and use the store greeting
  • Perform a professional walk-around
  • Review each client’s history and check for recalls
  • Present all recommended maintenances
  • Walk guests to the waiting area and show the amenities
  • Perform an active delivery

Second, once you have your playbook written, you must teach the processes and role-play regularly. I know most service personnel are not used to role-playing, but all sales trainers know it’s the only way to make sure your team can execute processes with ease.

Third, monitor your team to make sure they are using the playbook. If you see your players taking short cuts or changing the process, call them out for it. Make sure there are penalties that everyone understands. On the other side, make sure there are rewards and recognition for a job well done.

Now I would like to challenge you to reread the first 3 sentences of this article but eliminate the words “Imagine for a moment that…” You can be the coach of an excellent team and this can be your absolute best year as your team continually experiences wins and becomes the best in the business. Ticket sales may not increase, but your ticket count will along with your production and customer satisfaction scores. When you invest time and money into creating the best service experience in town, your clients will never consider going anywhere else for service or their next new car purchase. That is a win for everyone. Now let’s get training!

Kris Hampton is the VP of sw Service Solutions. He has traveled the country training and developing professional service advisors for 8 years and plays a huge role in developing online courses for Fixed Ops University.

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