Improve business office profitability

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Your business office produces the highest gross profit per square foot in your dealership. Take care of this prime piece of real estate and it will reward you.

The days of accepting mediocrity in the business office are long gone. Most pro-active dealers, who have felt the weight of these competitive pressures, have placed a new focus on and commitment to improving their business office performance.

Successful dealerships today have a documented sales process that their sales teams follow to ensure high closing ratios and gross profits. But when it comes to some business offices, however, we often find no process whatsoever.

Another common observation about poorer performing business managers is limited product knowledge. Some do not even know what is covered and what is not covered under the manufacturer’s warranties.

This is the result of a lack of formal training or no support or maintenance training. Here are some success strategies used to improve performance.

Success Strategies
The first step to improving performance is to remove a customer’s perception that they are being sold products.

Top-performing business managers provide customers with protection plans and solutions for which their customers are “eligible to register.”

Employing this strategy yields amazing results.

Poorly performing business managers use a disclosure method, informing customers about what they can purchase maintaining the perception that they are being sold.

As with any vehicle sales process, business managers need to adopt an effective sales process that suits their personality, is customer-friendly and produces results.
There are at least five distinct sales processes being used today: step selling; menu selling; staggered selling; sandwich selling and a load, lock and fire strategy.

I have found that any of these sales processes can produce outstanding results for a business manager when properly executed. It’s a question of personal taste.

Many poorer performing business managers do not know how to even describe their sales process or, if they do follow a strategy, it’s poorly done because they were never shown how to properly execute it.

The solution needed is to adopt a sales process or get the current one tuned-up.

Often times, business managers’ presentations are at the root of poor performance.

Most customers do not come into a business office wanting or needing vehicle and loan/lease protection products. Presentations need to be comprised of the following objectives.

•Create a need or curiosity
• Provide a solution
• Detail features and benefits
• Close with options

Overhauling a business manager’s presentations to execute these objectives may be necessary. Securing buy-in from the sales staff and
management by educating them about the need and value of business office protection plans and products is also a critical part of any solution.

If your business managers are not performing at a high level of performance, it is unlikely that they will be able to properly train staff so you should find a professional trainer.

Many dealers accept the natural handicaps associated with their brand or the clientele that their dealership attracts such as longer comprehensive or powertrain warranties, no reserve on subvented interest rates, no vehicle protection products like rust proofing, unusually high lease penetration rates on their new vehicle sales; an extraordinary high percentage of cash deals.

Some of these factors legitimately curb business office performance, but top-flight business managers have learned to overcome these handicaps.

In many cases, revisiting the product lineup that your business office offers your customers is warranted.

There are still many dealers who do not offer guaranteed auto protection for their customers’ finance contracts. Ethically, they should be.

Research the products and services that other dealerships offer and select ones that will be valuable for your customers.

Many dealerships and business managers have taken the inconsistency out of business office presentations by using slide shows or video to present vehicle and loan/lease protection plans and products to their customers. Some have even had them translated into different languages to accommodate their multicultural clientele.

Following these suggestions is a better strategy than just replacing a good and loyal employee.

Remember, reconditioning a used vehicle is an investment and not a cost of sale. It allows the dealer to sell the vehicle quicker and for a higher price.

Use this line of reasoning when it comes to training your business office. Training is an item that shows up as an expense on a financial statement, but investing in improving your business office will yield improved profits on all your transactions.

Another perspective to consider is that your business office produces the highest gross profit per square foot in your dealership.

Take care of this prime piece of real estate and it will reward you.

Hector Bosotti is the national trainer and consultant for Wye Management and president of www.f-iresource.com. He has over 29 years of retail automotive experience. He can be contacted at hbosotti@wyemanagement.com or 647-292-4503.