Monday, April 13, 2009

Sell the Sizzle

What a week. Service Managers I think you can identify with me on this one. A normal day for me goes like this:

1. Walk the Parking Lot everyday, touch every car and write on the windshield
2. Hold a production meeting everyday, talk about FRH
3. Hold a service advisor sales meeting everyday, talk about sales
4. Follow up on the Work In Process (WIP), close tickets
5. Review the Forecast VS. Actual, look at the money
6. Coach and Counsel the employees each day, baby-sit!

(For more information on my day, go to or click “MY Method” I have prepared sample checklist for each day, week and month)

Come on people what more do you want from me?

Now I must perform an inspection on each and every car and make sure that the service advisors do a walk around too. And just when you think you have had enough, Les Silver walks in the office to teach about MPi. Actually Mark Halterman, Business Development Manger, with MPi, showed up with his install coaching team on Wednesday to help take my store to the next level. I do not have time for this!

It gets even better. I was about as busy as a manager could be last week when Mark arrived. Not only was I doing everything as I listed above, I had two service advisors who needed extra attention. More baby-sitting. I just returned from picking up a car from a customer in Beverly Hills, interviewing an additional service advisor, and trying to keep the place together at the exact time the MPi crew shows up.

Now Mark began to tell me about the process workshops that were to take place. My blood pressure began to boil as he talked. We were to map out each process from “meeting and greeting” thru “write up” and presentation of the “MPi Know Your Vehicle Report” he said. Then he dropped the bomb. He also said that we should talk about the Service Advisor walk-around as well. I almost came unglued. I found myself giving every excuse why it could not be done. I found myself caught up in the day-to-day grind. And I am the Dealer-Coach. HA!

I actually considered making a run for the border, Mexico. How about Las Vegas? I considered Vegas however I just came back from there last weekend. Ok, now I am broke and my blood pressure is boiling. Anyplace but here was on my mind. I settled for a diet coke and a walk around the building, I cooled down and returned to my office.

Mark began selling me on the benefits of the entire process. In fact he did so well that I actually bought what he was selling. It made so much sense. It was exactly what I wanted; just said in a different way. I wanted to SELL THE SIZZLE. Sell the inspection (meaning offer it complimentary) to the customer at write up. Let the customer know, in advance, that we are going to perform a Quality Vehicle Inspection or as MPi says World Class Inspection. That was exactly what Mark was preaching to me. I was just not hearing him. Sometimes I just need a break or maybe a slap in the face to stop and listen to what someone is telling me.

Finally I agreed. Sipped my diet, stopped cursing and took a breath.

Mark, my service team and I worked through process documentation. We created our dealership playbook that evening. It took about 2 hours to develop. The next morning, all day and through the evening, Mark trained my technicians and service advisors. He trained on the MPi process at my dealership. He also trained on sales techniques too. We learned the benefit sandwich sales technique along with others.

Mark taught us one new technique called “Safety First”. He taught us to sell safety BEFORE the prime item.

I am confused…safety first?
Before the Prime Item?

(Stay tuned for my blog next week on this one)

Every person received the RULES of the game. Everyone had a chance to speak out on the subject too. When we were done, each one of my writers admitted they learned just a bit from Mark. That is a great compliment.

Les Silver, President and CEO of MPi even paid a visit to my store that next same day. His presence added credibility to the process and aided in the buy-in from my team. Overall my entire team appreciated the efforts of MPi. We got it done in the midst of all the confusion of running a car dealership service department.

Lets go back a month; we installed the MPi software at the dealership early March. My Key Performance Indicators (KPI's) were already off the charts. I even showed incredibly high usage of the QVI (inspection) op code. My team always inspects cars. The things that should have been up were up and the things that needed to be down were down.

I will admit that since the installation, all of my numbers are up even more. We set an all time record for gross profit and service net profit in March. I hesitate to put real #s on the blog as my dealer goes crazy. Also, utilizing the MPi tool, I am now looking more at process indicators than the actual up sell dollars. The dollars are there when the process is followed.

Did MPi do this? How much contribution did the MPi software have in this improvement? I cannot give you an exact answer. I can say that my team of service advisors is focused on the process of selling now. Obviously we are focused on improving our KPI’s and growing our customer pay business, however the process is where the emphasis is being placed.

These are the metrics that we now review:

• Does the service advisor request the vehicle inspection 100% of the time?
• Does the technician perform the requested vehicle inspection 100% of the time?
• Does the service advisor complete the “treatment plan and the recommended action plan” 100% of the time?
• Finally, is the customer presented with the Know Your Vehicle Report 100% of the time?

In my store, we are getting close to 100%. Close means World Class!

I can site many examples of the improvement we have seen; my favorite example of what MPI has brought to my dealership is this story:

On the Saturday before the launch of MPi, we performed an Oil Service on a 911 Porsche. We also did our Quality Vehicle Inspection and a warranty repair. The car was given a clean bill of health and we ordered a warranty part for the customer. The customer came back in on Wednesday, four days later, the first day of the MPI launch. The same technician RE-INSPECTED the car utilizing the MPi Tool. The technician was actually required to inspect the car and note his findings in the computer. Interestingly enough, he discovered the customer needed rear tires and rear brakes. My service advisor explained to the customer how we have a new program designed to improve our vehicle inspections and sold both the tires and the rear brakes. My hats off to the World Class Inspection Tool – not just the QVI op code!

In our Fixed Ops Manager Meetings, we no longer just talk about forecast vs. actual pace, account receivables and KPI's. We talk about being World Class. We talk about ensuring our place in the dealership world for a long time. We talk about all the other stores that are closing around us. We talk about how we must be different. We talk about PROFITS!

This comes with continuous steady improvement. Some may call it cliché I just nod and agree but inspect what you expect from your people. Hold your people accountable for the processes and the numbers will follow.

Steven Shaw www.

Go to and click My Method at the top and see the time saving checklist that I have created.

And stay tuned next week for a special article from…

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