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Creating a Sales Culture in Fixed Ops!

charlie polston5

Every process in your dealership falls into one of two categories; it’s either administrative or revenue-generating. Granted, every job description of every service employee has a certain amount of administrative duties, but the majority of the processes they follow must be revenue-generating.

Rex Weaver says it like this (when talking about where to focus your training): “If your training revolves around processes that are administrative and not revenue-generating (like salesmanship), you need to re-shuffle your training schedules.” Weaver, service director of Mercedes Benz and Porsche of Lehigh Valley in Emmaus, Pennsylvania, goes on to say that ongoing, consistent training of your revenue-generating employees is one of the most profitable moves your dealership can make.

“If you aren’t spending time every day in salesmanship training for your advisors, then you have no idea what your ultimate potential can be,” Weaver concludes.

Well said. And speaking of training, most new and used car departments rally the team for sales training every day, yet many service managers I talk to have never had a service sales meeting. Oh, sure, they may have a monthly service meeting, but they rarely discuss sales goals and the selling skills needed by techs and advisors to hit the numbers. That’s got to change.

Your new and used car sales department is, by definition, a sales organization with a sales culture. Your service department must also, first and foremost, be a sales organization with a sales culture. Additionally, revenue-generating employees (advisors and technicians) must have revenue-production-based pay plans. That means no earning cap…the more they sell, the more they make. (Outdoorsmen and hunters understand this concept; “you eat what you kill.” Otherwise, you go hungry.) When your personnel sell lots of maintenance services, they should make lots of money. Passive order-takers deserve to starve.

You don’t bat an eye about offering a spiff to your new and used car sales team to sell vehicles that have been on the lot too long. Oftentimes, you have fun with it and offer a $250 bonus for the first car sold before 10:00 a.m., or something along those lines. Therefore, don’t be reluctant to offer a spiff to advisors for selling preventive maintenance services. Have fun with it. Pay $5.00 for each service sold and start a Century Club for those advisors that sell over 100 services a month. Give them a $100 bonus each month that they earn Century Club status. How about an additional $100 for the first advisor to hit 100 maintenance services for the month?

Advisors are not administrative-process-driven-paper-pushing-clerks….no, no, no. They are revenue-generating, production-based professional sales people!

You wouldn’t tolerate a car salesman who wouldn’t sell cars, right? Then why on earth would you tolerate a service advisor that won’t sell service?

There are only two things in life: knowing and doing. That said, let’s unpack this further. Training precedes knowing. Accountability precedes doing.

Forgive me for stating the obvious, but don’t expect your advisors to sell maintenance if they haven’t been trained in the art of selling. Selling skills, overcoming objections, and closing the deal are learned behaviors. You can’t send someone to training once and call them trained; sales training must be ongoing. Your service sales team must routinely practice, drill, and rehearse.

Countless business studies have shown that people do more and perform at a higher level when there is an accountability structure in place. Everyone’s production increases when they know you are watching. (Obviously, I don’t mean that you should stare a hole through them every minute of the day, but direct observation for a few minutes every day is good.) When an employee knows the boss is looking at their numbers, guess what? Their numbers go up.

The opposite is also true. According to Dave Anderson, some people complain about the money they don’t have from the work that they don’t do! They do just enough to get by. They could do more, but they just don’t want to. Heaven forbid that the employees learned this attitude from the boss! Basically, they have learned that no one above them cares, so why should they?

In closing, here are some characteristics of a healthy sales culture:

Clear Goals and Expectations. If nothing is your goal, you’re sure to get it—nothing. Training, Mentoring, and Coaching (not screaming, ranting, and cursing). Management by fear and intimidation is not leadership.

  • Practicing, Drilling, and Rehearsing. The greatest sports heroes and teams never stop training or improving. The world’s greatest musicians never stop practicing.
  • Marketing and Merchandising Tools. Equipping your service sales team with menus, multi-point inspection forms, tablets, videos, processes, and point-of-sale materials to help them close the sale.
  • Accountability Structure. Don’t overthink this. Decide your top three or four revenue-producing key performance indicators and monitor every tech and advisor every day.
  • Celebrate Milestones Publicly. Celebrate and reward your parts and service team when they knock it out of the park one month. Publicly award top achievers who meet their numbers.

Fixed ops is first and foremost a sales organization. Make it a priority in 2019. You can do this.

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