I told a former colleague that I just wrote a book with a service manager. He joked, “What can a service manager and you preach about in a book?”
This fellow hasn't a clue of the trials and tribulations facing a service manager in a busy dealership, and what such a manager can relate about his experiences.
There are pressures from the manufacturer to satisfy all the customers all the time. Pressures from the dealer to satisfy customers while also increasing labor sales.
Pressures from prima donna technicians who threaten to go to another dealership for another buck or so.
And of course pressures from customers.
Who better then to write a book about the dealership business than a service manager extraordinaire (Mike Rolland) and a service department trainer (yours truly)?
Rolland is a service manager who has worked with staff and presented scheduled meetings for more than 25 years both at the corporate and dealership level.
This ex-journeyman technician and myself embarked on this book-writing journey five years ago when I was a fixed operations trainer calling on many dealerships across the U.S. and Canada.
Mike was and still is a service manager of a successful Nissan dealership in Calgary, Canada. Noticing his British accent we hit it off talking about jolly old England. He talked of working with car companies in England, France, Japan, the U.S. and Canada and I thought to myself, “This guys knows his stuff!”
At our next meeting, I asked if he'd edit a new service training manual I was working on. It was geared towards improving dealership customer satisfaction index scores through the service department.
He agreed. A few days later, he hands me back his finished work. I expected a few inserts, maybe a few corrections. Nope. He presents to me over 12 pages of concise, to the point, useful tips to improve CSI scores for any store, anywhere. The training manual became a big success.
A year later I worked on a follow-up manual. It was geared towards improving technicians on the “softer skills” of handling customers. It covered topics alien to many technicians such as the importance of CSI, improving communication skills and working effectively with the parts department personnel and service advisors.
Again, Mike was very helpful in the creation. Technicians who are not normally schooled in this sort of thing were surprisingly pleased, giving great reviews to the course material and its usefulness.
The stage was then set to ask Mike to be a part of a book that I was considering on how to conduct effective staff meetings.
When I worked at a dealership I'd often walk out of meetings saying, “What a waste. I could have been out there selling cars or calling leads.” I discovered that many dealership staffers felt the same.
Conducting efficient, useful meetings is tough. It takes practice, planning and attention to content. How do managers come up with fresh insightful material on enhancing customer service, accelerating sales and increasing client retention — especially when they're running their tails off in their regular course of business?
That's why we came up with a guidebook of 26 different topics and tactics on how to train, motivate and empower your team.
We cover regular meetings, special meetings and employee involvement at meetings. We also cover how to deal with customers, question customers, stay ahead of customers and entertain customers, whether by joking with them or extolling the joys of car ownership.
We hope readers find our book informative and enjoyable. We sure enjoyed writing it.
Dave Skrobot ([email protected]/1-888-681-7355) is vice president of fixed operations training for the Automotive Sales College.