Where’s the Picnic?

Greg-LingenfelterOn a recent visit to Minneapolis, it was so cold that if you threw a cup of hot water in the air, it instantly vaporized! So, imagine my surprise when I heard the service manager use the word “picnic” in a conversation with another employee at the dealership.  It’s the middle of winter, I wondered, where’s the picnic?

So, I figured I would ask about the picnic discussion on such a cold day.   The manager went on to explain that they were talking about a customer and their vehicle.  The dealership’s definition of a picnic was:  problem in customer, not in car.  I thought I had heard every acronym in the car business, but then again, we all learn something every day.  So what exactly does this mean, “problem in customer, not in car”?

The manager went on to explain that a customer had brought in their car and after diagnosis, found out there was nothing wrong with the car.  In fact, the real problem was a “perfect storm” type of situation.

First, the customer didn’t understand the “express down” feature on the driver’s door.  Second, the new service consultant also didn’t understand the feature.  The service consultant did a great job of even duplicating the condition with the customer on the service drive.

The shop was very busy, so the job was given to a technician that normally just does oil changes.  After some quick diagnosis it was determined that the switch was the obvious failure.  Guess what? The tech went to parts, got a new switch and installed it, only to find that it still “sticks”!  Now it’s time to talk to an experienced tech in the shop. It was quickly determined that the problem was the customer not knowing how their vehicle works = PICNIC (Problem in Customer Not in Car).  Unfortunately, not understanding features on the vehicle caused the customer to be without their new vehicle for the day for no reason.

So, is the problem in the customer?  Of course not. In these cases it’s easy to place blame.  Sales obviously didn’t cover this during the new car delivery.  The service manager didn’t train the service consultant.  The customer didn’t read their owner’s manual. The initial tech didn’t complete the new car training that is available.

Just like service does a walk around with each customer, sales does a similar process to demonstrate the features and benefits on new vehicles. Ask your sales team to assist by doing some demonstrations as new models are introduced. It’s good practice for the sales team and a good education for the service team.

Customers expect you to be the expert. Make sure to give your team the knowledge to explain the proper functionality of these newer features.

The customer will be happy they didn’t have a “broken” car and have to leave it with you for the day.  Now you just gave the customer time to go on a “real” picnic!



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