Successful powersports dealerships do many things to make their businesses attractive to customers. Clever advertising, great product displays and signage to name a few. However one area I see a lot of dealerships overlook is the service department. It seems the service area is not only full of broken motorcycles, it is also a collection space for everything from broken down display racks to old furniture and countless boxes of office files. Over the years these things pile up and, before you know it, instead of walking into a professional service department it looks like you are walking into an episode of ‘Hoarders.’
When you think about it there are several reasons to clean up this often-neglected area. First is appearance. How often do your customers walk into your service area? If the area is cluttered with old parts and the floors are covered with dirt and oily rags, many customers can feel apprehensive about having your company service their unit. Also, efficiency can be greatly increased if techs have a clean, organized work area. Another very important reason is safety. Staff are much less likely to slip or drop a bike if the shop floor is clean and there is ample room to move around. And perhaps the most important reason is the opportunity to increase profits for the business. A clean and organized service department reduces the amount of wasted time by everyone involved in getting the units repaired and back to the customer.
We recently decided to revamp our service department and admittedly it had been neglected over the past few years. When some of our upper management saw what we were doing they were, shall we say, less than enthusiastic about the endeavor. But we proceeded and after throwing out several dumpsters full of the above-mentioned broken and outdated materials, and yes, even a bathtub (no one knows how that got back there) we found we had three times more room to actually do repairs. Next we cleaned everything, including walls, light fixtures, equipment and even garage doors. Finally, after everything was cleaned we repainted the walls and equipment, even putting an epoxy coating on the floors. The results of all our efforts was WOW! All of a sudden our old, tired and cluttered-looking service department looked like a NASCAR garage. Our GM liked the new look so much he ask us to clean up an area that was used to store crates and set up a second showroom for the dealership. We also had an unexpected result: our sales department was so impressed they started taking customers on a “back stage tour” of our facilities and the customers love it. Not only does the “tour” make the customer feel like they got to do something special, it gives them a chance to see our techs in action.
It may sound like we put a lot of effort into an area that some dealerships look at as only a necessity and it did take a big commitment on everyone’s part. After the completion it feels like our employees take much more pride in coming to work every day, it feels like the workflow is more efficient, and it feels like our customers are much more at ease leaving their units in our care. You may ask, "All of that feeling is nice, but has it really helped the company?" Well, there is one measurable result of our cleanup …. our service department profits are up 30 percent over last year! And now our upper management is very enthusiastic about cleaning.
Jackson Smith is the parts and service manager at Destination Powersports, a multi-line OEM dealership located in S.W. Florida. Jackson has over 30 years experience in both the automotive and powersports industries.