Anybody that has been in this industry knows the basic 3 C’s of a repair order. This is how the service department primarily functions. Concern or Complaint is the reason the car is here. Cause is what happened or why it happened. Correction is what we did to fix it. However, there are 3 more little known C’s that can really make a difference in your service department. They can be the difference between success and failure. These other 3 C’s are hardly known, seldom talked about and rarely practiced. The difference between a very successful service department and a not-so-successful one is the balance and possession of all three and to be able to execute them and maintain them at all times. They are as follows:
Commitment, Communication, and Consistency
In only very rare instances are all three present at all times. The stores that are able to possess all three are heads and shoulders above their competition. By truly understanding what they are and how they can make an impact in your business, you will be on the road to success.
Commitment may not be as simple as it seems and possibly the most misunderstood. Are your people truly committed? I am not talking about showing up every day and taking care of the customer. I am talking about true commitment. Do they prepare for the day? Do they have goals and a game plan? Are they loyal employees or just tenured employees? Are they there just to make a pay check or do they truly care about what they do? Are they professional? What about training? Is this their career or just a job? Are they masters at their craft? Do they go that extra mile? Ask yourself these few simple questions of your employees and you will know if you have true commitment.
Communication is the key to any business, especially in ours. How is the communication in your store? I am not talking about calling customers back when promised, although that is a big part of it. I am talking about full communication, between each other, customers and other departments. Is the parts department in communication with service? Do they notify the advisors on special orders? Do they communicate with technicians on parts arrivals? What about customers? Is there a special order process in place? Is there a sales to service hand-off? What about a “We owe” process? Do you have production meetings? Are there shop meetings? What about all inclusive parts/service meetings? Do your advisors communicate with each other in their absence, out to lunch, day off etc.? Are there meetings with your GM or dealer on a regular basis? Are your advisors informed of special promotions, or sales events? Do they have input on promotions? Most importantly, are your customers kept informed? Are they updated on the status of their vehicles? Are they notified on parts arrivals or completions? Are they notified on special promotions or sales events? Is there a follow-up or marketing strategy in place? Take a minute and think about how well your store communicates, in all aspects.
This is probably the most difficult to achieve and maintain. Take a look at your processes; are they being executed all the time? The answer is probably no. As I travel to my dealers and interact with service advisors and service managers, they openly admit that they lack consistency. Why? Why should the customer’s experience change from day to day and from advisor to advisor? A customer coming in at 8 AM on a Monday for an oil change should get the treatment as the customer that shows up for a check engine light on a Thursday at 3 PM. I interview advisors and they often tell me that sometimes they offer a multi-point and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes menus, sometimes not. In fact, I asked one service advisor if a customer coming in for a check engine light at 35,000 receives a multi-point inspection. He looked at me like I asked a calculus question. His answer was; “No, only oil change customers.” As ridiculous as is sounds, this is what is happening in your stores.
Another good excuse I often hear from service advisors is that “I am too busy”. There has not been a service advisor I’ve met that wasn’t “too busy”. It doesn’t matter if he writes 3 cars a day or 30 cars a day he is always “too busy”. When he is “too busy” he fails to provide a customer with the experience they deserve.
THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE SHOULD NOT CHANGE FROM DAY TO DAY, FROM ADVISOR TO ADVISOR, OR FROM CUSTOMER TO CUSTOMER.
The key to any successful business is consistency. In my travels, visiting different dealers in every corner of the nation from market to market, large and small, the only thing that really seems to be consistent is inconsistency. There may be processes in place, but they are often deviated from. The exception becomes the rule. Therefore, no consistency. Consistency is the key to success.
For example, when I travel, I may visit Starbucks. No matter where I am or how busy they are, my experience is always the same. It doesn’t matter if I am in an airport in Cleveland or a strip mall in Oregon, my Starbucks experience does not change. This is the key to their tremendous success.
Mastering all three is challenging, and maintaining them is even more difficult, but when you do, you will be heads and shoulders above your competition. The next time you hear the 3 Cs, think about the other 3 C’s. It could make a difference in your business.