PSB 123s: Increase service department profits

1. Promote your service operation. “Do you market your service department and your service specialties? Doing this will create increased labor sales opportunities,” said Steve Jones of Gart Sutton & Associates. “Mention service in all your ads: ‘Factory-trained technicians,’ ‘We service all brands,’ etc. Create and advertise seasonal service promotions on a regular basis. Send exclusive promotions to your existing service customers. Promote P&A installation by providing labor sales incentives for the parts staff. Promote and conduct service clinics for new buyers, women riders, etc.”

2. Train your service writers to upsell. “My service writers do get on the phone and try to upsell,” explained Raymond Walters of Got Gear Motorsports in Ridgeland, Miss. If a bike is brought in, even for an oil change, the service writer makes note of other fluid levels, tire tread and more. “Try to upsell service on each ticket, that’s what we try to do,” Walters said. “Our techs look over the bike and say, ‘Hey, this could stand to be replaced before too long.’”

3. Give service customers a coupon. “When a customer brings their vehicle in for service, give them a coupon for accessories or clothing,” suggested sales trainer Don Copper, The Sales Heretic. “It gives them an excuse to shop and increases the total amount they spend in your dealership.”

4. Review every repair order and correct deficiencies. “Our service manager is reviewing every repair order each morning and finding out about the actual repairs, or if the actual repairs were or weren’t closed, and if they weren’t closed, why they weren’t,” said Craig Stokebrand of Kearney Yamaha in Kearney, Neb. The service writer also looks at each tech’s clock-in time, and if there are any discrepancies, such as a 10-minute break between jobs, he meets with the tech and the porter to try to discover the problem. “They’re all there, and it’s helped us find where our deficiencies are, so we can work on correcting those.”

5. Schedule carefully. “Schedule your appointments based on technician efficiency, to maximize every minute of the day,” advised Joe Arcuch of MotoAdvisor.

6. Pay your techs well. “To get good techs, you have to pay your techs real well and to maintain those techs [you have to pay them well], so you have to charge a labor rate, so you can justify paying a good tech,” suggested Steve Littlefield of Central Texas Powersports in Georgetown, Texas.  “You can get a cheap tech and cheap performance, but I think the better techs you get, the better customer service you can give.”

7. Use a time clock. “From a performance tracking standpoint, the only product service sells is labor hours,” Jones said. “To measure this reliably, you must use a time clock to record all labor time (internal, customer-paid and warranty). Sadly, many dealers still don’t do this. Unless you have accurate tracking of all labor hours, you can’t begin to determine whether or not your technicians are pulling their weight, or if your service operation department is even profitable.”

8. Create an express bay. “Last year, we just started leaving one service bay open specifically for oil changes and quick service jobs. That speeds them up, and I think that’s helping our service department a lot,” said Mark Porter of Porter’s Toys for Big Boys in Brookings, S.D.

9. Tell the customer what doesn’t need to be replaced. “Telling customers everything that’s in good working order builds trust, so they’re more likely to believe you when you tell them what does need to be replaced or upgraded,” Cooper explained.


10. Stay in contact with customers. “Call customers to schedule preventative maintenance that the technicians noted on their last visit, to build goodwill and keep the workflow flowing,” Arcuch said.

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