If you want to increase your business, get more people to like you! I firmly believe customers want a relationship with your dealership and they truly want to take ownership of your service department as their vendor of choice. We make it difficult because the focus of a large number of stores is on the financial performance versus the relationship. Don’t think for a second I’m saying don’t focus on the numbers, just focus on the relationship as the vehicle to increase the financial performance.
We are not good at building the relationship with our customers in the service department. The independent service providers (ISP’s) are outstanding at beating us in this area. The service advisor is our face to the customer. They are the direct contact person, so here’s my question, “Why can’t they smile to our customers?”
Tomorrow morning I challenge you to walk to your service lane and watch how your advisors are greeting your customers, are they smiling? I would say over half of them don’t! Are we expecting too much of them to smile? A smile is free; it’s easier than a frown and could be the difference between a short term-warranty only relationship versus a long term-customer pay relationship.
Everyone understands the positive impact of a warm and friendly smile. A smile is an action that will change the behavior of the people receiving it. Receiving a smile just makes you feel good. It starts with your management staff; they need to learn to smile every day, with every person. They must set the pace.
I have worked with many service advisors in workshops and on their service drive; I make the smile a big portion of the training curriculum. Some advisors will just light up the room with their warm and sincere smile, they are natural at it. Others don’t know what it is; they feel very foolish trying it. I have had some even tell me “I don’t smile”, that statement blows me away! Really?
I believe these people need to learn how. Management should work with their advisors teaching them to smile. A smile training session would be easy to hold and extremely beneficial. I remember someone sharing with me an idea that I have always considered being good. They placed a mirror behind the cashier. The customer would see themselves in the mirror and their angry display would be ended quickly. Could we use the same approach with our advisors? Where could you place a mirror? Another thought would be do a test, have each advisor make a conscience effort to smile at their first five customers and make a mental note of the customer reaction. Hold a debrief over lunch and discuss the reaction, you know as well as I it will be positive. Use this as the launch pad for success using this simple and easy action that will pay large dividends in additional sales.
Marvin Sommerfeldt is one of the consultants I work with. He has always asked his service managers to do what he calls the smile patrol. After the training, your manager will still need to hold them accountable for this action. The smile patrol is very simple and easy, stand in view of the write-up area and watch. An easy way to monitor is point a video camera on the advisors. Be sure they can see it. They need to know you are watching them; an additional point to remember is everything you have asked your advisors to do they will do, when they know the camera is rolling.
If your advisors are not smiling now, it will take a conscience effort on their part to make this a tool in their box to increase their likeability factor.
A few key points about smiles:
- A smile is contagious
- A smile spreads good feelings to the people receiving
- A smile could brighten a customer’s day
- People are always watching your advisors and they will develop an impression of them based on their smile or lack of
- Smile when you talk on the phone
- When someone smiles, smile back!
- 55% of all communications is nonverbal and a large majority of this is facial expressions
- Surveys have found over 72% of people think those who smile frequently as being more confident and successful
- 86% of people say that they are more likely to strike up conversations with strangers if they are smiling
- It takes seventeen muscles to smile and forty-three to frown