You may not realize it, but there is a party every day in the service department. Instead of a guest list, there’s an appointment schedule. That schedule tells you who is coming, when they will arrive and what they are bringing with to the party.
Now, they generally don’t bring chips, dip, assorted snacks and tasty beverages. They bring oil changes, brake jobs, transmission issues and a variety of unusual noises. All of which we should be welcoming with open arms, just as we would if the party were at our own homes.
But before the guests arrive each day, are we making sure we are prepared for them? Is your service entrance well lit and easy to locate? Well located and easy to distinguish directional signage to help guide your guests to the proper entrance is beneficial.
Are all the hosts and hostesses who are welcoming the guests properly dressed and professional in appearance? Uniform attire and name badges can assist in portraying a level of professionalism and identify the individual as a member of the organization. The guest will easily be able to assess who to seek for assistance.
Once your guests have arrived at your door, is the service lane inviting? Clutter, unkempt floors and general disorganization can leave a negative impression on your guests. If you are unable to care for your facility, how well will you care for their vehicle? Is the interior lighting functional and maintained, or are there fixtures with burned out bulbs, or are they covered in dust and grime? If there are banners, be sure they are clean, relevant and up to date. Accessory and tire displays should be well stocked and clean free from dust and grime.
And how about the corners? Corners are great hiding places and are seldom maintained. One can find many interesting thing in corners such as cobwebs, assorted trash, vermin traps, dead insects and at times, even cigarette butts. Don’t forget the windows and the window sills. Like the corners, window sills have a tendency to collect items that we may not be too proud to put on display.
Don’t forget the bathrooms. Are they clean and well stocked? Does all the lighting work? Is someone checking them periodically to make sure that your guests are not inconvenienced in any way?
What is a party without refreshments. Do you offer complimentary refreshments to your guests? Are they located in an easily accessible area that is clean and well kept, and are the items fresh and inviting?
During the first day of a dealership visit not too long ago, I chanced upon the Dealer standing at the entrance to his service drive. He had his arms crossed and was slowly shaking his head. Inside the drive was in chaos. The service advisors were not in proper attire, stacks of boxes were next to the service write up desks. The tire displays were half empty and a tire banner was hanging by only one corner.
The lighting in the service drive was only 75% functional at best, and there were more customers in the drive than the service advisors could properly take care of.
Outside the entrance was a cigarette disposal container, yet the majority of the discarded smoking materials were laying on the ground, and next to the doorway was a rat trap and a dead bird.
I asked the Dealer what his thoughts were and he softly replied, “I am amazed at what I see about my business when I just step back and look”.
So, step back and take a look. What do YOU see? Just how prepared are you for your guests? Every day is a party, and you only have one opportunity to make a first impression. It’s your choice. What is that impression going to be?