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Dec. 4, 2006 – Dealership project turns to service department

Companies involved in the year-long Turning Technology Into Sales and Profit series are turning their attention to S&W’s service department.
S&W is the Jasper, Ala., dealership that is trying to modernize its business practices with the help of five industry companies.
“A service department should really be called a customer retention department,” said Larry Koch, founder of Tousley Motor Sports and consultant for the series. “It keeps customers coming back again and again. Give customers good service, treat them like family and provide a positive experience — they’ll stick to you like glue.”
S&W has recently struggled in its service department because of manager turnover. Three members of the companies involved in the series will work with S&W’s new service manager on three service department principles as described by Koch:
Rule No. 1: Treat your master mechanics like doctors.
This means having $9 per hour interns or high school students do the grunt work of changing oil and taking tires off the bike. Let the $20-plus an hour “Class A” mechanics operate on trouble-shooting and problem solving.
An attitude of professionalism also should apply to the service department environment. Keep it as clean as an operating room. No empty soda cans lying around. No messy oil spots or disheveled workstations. People make judgments based on appearances. A professional environment says, “we care about your bike as much as you do.”
Rule No. 2: Cultivate a sales mentality among ‘Class A’ mechanics.
Turn your mechanics into service and selling consultants. Customers usually accept what mechanics say without question and a “Class A” mechanic has more customer credibility than your best salesperson. Given this, train your service people to think like a salesperson and to be upgrade-oriented.
When they’ve got a bike pulled apart for a brake job, make sure they look for as many repair opportunities as possible. It’ll save the customer labor costs in the long run, and will bring in additional sales.
Rule No. 3: Adapt to a changing customer mindset.
Customers think vehicle downtime is a bigger cost than the actual repair bill. They would rather pay to have two or three things fixed at one time and get back on the road, than to come in three different times and save money.
For example, if a flat tire needs fixing, make sure the mechanic checks out the brakes. If they need replacing in 8,000 miles, fix both the tire and the brakes at the same time, with customer approval.
Working with S&W to apply these three rules will be Dealership University’s Tory Hornsby, Yamaha’s Claude von Plato and Polaris’ Chris Wolf.
“I agree with Larry,” Hornsby said. “Service departments can dramatically improve dealer sales and profits, if properly managed.
“At Dealership University, we call it The Three C’s in service: complaint, cause and correction,” Hornsby said. “Properly receive the complaint from the customer, diagnose the cause of the issue and then perform the correction. This helps eliminate comebacks because you’re diagnosing the cause, not just addressing the symptoms.”
While Hornsby is working on improving service department selling, Yamaha’s von Plato and Polaris’ Wolf will address service department profits.
“We’ll be working on improving S&W’s efficiencies,” von Plato said, noting S&W is already using some of the Yamaha Dealer System tools. “We’ll be working with them to fully embrace these tools.
“Online warranty filing, status inquiry and technical library use are just some of the tools that, if fully utilized, will help profitability. Getting (S&W’s) new service manager to fully realize their potential will really help.”
Wolf will focus on Web-based diagnostics to help S&W with Rules No. 1 and 3. “Treating master mechanics like doctors is a great analogy,” he said. “Our online diagnostic tools will help them focus their skills more precisely and quickly.
“This also ties into Rule No. 3. ‘Get it in, get it out — now’ is definitely a current customer mindset. The speed and accuracy of these online tools can directly address this customer reality.” psb

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