The Customer and the Car

Adam Wright Newsletter“Of all the things I’ve done, the most vital is coordinating those who work with me and aiming their efforts at a certain goal.”

-Walt Disney

Disney operated in a different time and environment than those of us on the front lines of a dealership service department, but the point still rings true.  Getting people to work together is the most important aspect of continuing to churn out a high quality product over a long period of time.

The keys to this coordination are giving everyone a role and well-defined goals.  As great as Michael Jordan was, he needed role players like Steve Kerr to hit a big three when the time came.  Organizations who achieve greatness, do so by all focusing every day on a small number of core activities.   For Disney cast members, the focus is always on the guest and putting on a great show.  For a basketball team it may be shooting layups and nailing a perfect pick-and-roll.

For personnel in a dealership service department, there are two main goals – taking care of the customer and their car.


The two goals are made of up four components. Together they form the principle objectives of fixed operations.  All decisions should be weighed against how they impact the Customer and the Car.

Every person on the team needs to work at perfecting their role and nailing their objectives.  The natural split of the four puts sales and customer relations in the hands of the service advisors.  Production and quality control is the responsibility of the technicians.  The role of the manager is to create a laser like focus among all employees and never let their foot off the gas.

So, how can the hyper-focused approach be implemented?  Make a list of what your advisors and technicians do on any given day.  Any activity that falls outside of their two functions should be moved to the other group.  Keep their roles tight and clear.  As Steve Jobs said, “That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity.  Simple can be harder than complex: you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there you can move mountains.”

Create an environment that allows everyone to succeed.  Clear obstacles that keep employees from focusing on their specific tasks.  If the advisors spend time test driving vehicles or have a hand in dispatching repair orders, consider if these activities help the dealership sell additional quality flat rate hours or improve customer relations.  If technicians are on the service drive or interacting with customers, does it improve production or quality of repairs?

To truly be great it takes more than just knowing what to do – it takes everyone on the team executing as one day in and day out.  The core – the Customer (sales and customer relations) and the Car (production and quality control) – must become second nature and should always be at the forefront when making organization decisions.


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