Staffing decision could benefit fixed ops bottom line


Car owners want to spend money to maintain their cars, said service advisor trainer Jeff Cowan. But when they meet up with an order taker at the service advisor’s desk, not a professional sales person, the opportunity goes out the window – or out the drive thru.

“The days of service and repair are over. You are in the service retail business. You need to hire retail sales people for your service drive. You need to train them to be outstanding retail sales people and give them incentives.”

He argued that service advisors must be able to greet customers, build rapport, ask diagnostic questions, make benefit-based presentations, handle their objections without insulting them, ask for the money and get it.

They must be product experts and have all the answers. They can’t say “Just a moment, I’ll check on that.”

Dealers have to treat their service advisors the way they do their sales staff.

“When was the last time you had a meeting with your sales advisors on how to build rapport and ask diagnostic questions,” he asked his audience.

Cowan is a veteran of over 26 years training service advisors.

He advised dealers to decorate the walls of their service drives with posters and displays that whet the appetite for the products on sale.

“Bare walls are out! The OEMs’ view is that people want a clean look. No, they don’t. If done properly, it looks pretty and the displays will sell.”

When he talked about displays, he included tire displays.

While he agreed that iPod and smart phones are helpful tools at the service drive, they weren’t musthaves.

“All the devices are only good if the people who use them can look the customer in the eye and say ‘Do you want to buy it?’ ”

But one display he wants banned from the service drive area are the signs that compare the dealership’s labour rates, etc. with the competitions’.

“I hate them. Throw them away! They’re a terrible idea! They don’t prove value. They create objections. They show your competition is in the area.”

Lastly, Cowan urged dealers to get into the quick lube business and stop worrying that there’s no upsell potential.

“The idea that there’s nothing to sell is nonsense. Fifty per cent of the vehicles that come in are high mileage.”

A thorough inspection would reveal plenty of work that needs doing, he said.

 “It’s no answer to say ‘They just came in for an oil change.”

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