Don’t Start the New Year by Dropping the Ball

The practice of welcoming the New Year with a ball drop began over 100 years ago in New York City with a 700 pound ball built from iron and wood.  It is based on the now obsolete 19th century practice of using time balls mounted from observatories to help ship navigators keep accurate time.

Dropping a ball is now a wide spread occurrence on New Year’s Eve across the country.  While it is the most popular way we celebrate the transition from one year to the next, dropping the ball is no way to start the New Year.  In a dealership environment, dropping the ball means poor customer retention, frustrated employees and lost profits.  Let’s discuss some best practices to start the year off strong.

  1.  Have a plan to reach your goal

Managers and leaders must take the time to develop a process for all functions in their service departments.  Having a sound customer handling process trained and in place is a great start.  Write out exactly what is expected from the advisors.  Then keep that process train rolling and get processes set up for service appointment scheduling, for dispatching of jobs and repair orders, for multipoint inspections and everything else.

As President Eisenhower said, “Having plans may be useless, but the planning is indispensable.” So let your imagination go wild – it’s always worth the time to think through a process and formally write it out.

  1.  Be thorough and stay on task

Too often service advisors have a tendency to speed through the reception process with their guests. When the busy drop-off times hit, they rush through the tried and true steps that lead to success. If you’ve ever been to a Chick-Fil-A drive-through at lunch time, think back on your trip. There may have a line around the building but they still take the time to repeat back every order for accuracy and never fail to say “my pleasure” to each guest. They are thorough and stick to the process.

As a leader, ensure your people don’t take shortcuts, either. Monitor the advisors to make sure they take time to actively listen to each guest. That they ask good questions, record the responses, and confirm they understand the customer’s concerns. Always find out who’s paying, quote a price, and discuss how and when status updates and follow-up will occur. Seconds spent now save minutes later.

Remember, a sloppy start sets the stage for a rougher ride to the end.

  1. Hire well

The best leaders surround themselves with the top talent they can find and the strongest team they can build. If you want to minimize how often the ball gets dropped, make recruiting, hiring, and training a daily activity. A best practice is to set aside a designated time each day to limit distractions and spend time on hiring well. And once you have good candidates, don’t allow yourself to shoot from the hip with interview questions. A structured interview process has the interviewer prepared and gets far more information from the interviewee than using the old “tell me about yourself” approach.

Making an effort to develop processes, being thorough, and hiring well will put a dealership on the path to a financially successful year. It’s important to stay on task, and have follow through when implementing plans for success. The benefits are huge as these steps will lead to more customers, happier employees, and more department profits. So don’t drop the ball! If you have questions or would like information on how M5 can help your team in 2017, give us a call.

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