By Bob Clements
If there is one thing that I have found to be a universal truth in OPE dealerships, most dealers pride themselves on the technical training they and their employees have gone through.
In most OPE dealerships, certificates and awards line the walls as a testament to the time and money they have invested to make sure their customers are having their equipment serviced by technicians who are well trained by manufacturers to provide the best and most efficient service possible. If you are like most people who have ever attended a training class, you’ve probably found that the most effective way to learn is to have the opportunity to be actively involved in the educational process — not just sitting and listening to a lecture, but to have the ability to listen, ask questions, and experience what you are trying to learn. That’s why we at Bob Clements International, Inc. (BCI) and Outdoor Power Equipment (OPE) magazine are excited to be involved in the new GIE+EXPO 2009 High-Performance Service Department Oct. 29-31 at Louisville’s Kentucky Exposition Center.
If you have read my articles in OPE during the past two years, you know that I have written several of them on various ways to improve the efficiency and profitability of the service department. At BCI, we believe that for a dealership to be successful, it must feature a shop that is a strong part of its overall profitability. In my articles, I have discussed various strategies that we have used with dealerships to improve technician efficiency, reduce comebacks, and improve customer satisfaction. I have shared our strategies with the hope that you will be able to incorporate them into your dealership and improve how you deliver customer service.
As my team and I introduce our processes and strategies to dealerships, it can be challenging to maximize their immediate impact without adequate resources such as service lifts, tools and software. Every dealership we work with comes to us with a unique set of circumstances. Not all dealers own business software that can manage their service departments at the level we would like to see it managed. In reality, you don’t have to have software to make money doing service, but it helps. You can use a wall clock to keep track of the time that your technicians spend on a work order, and you can use a manual system to build your flat-rate times, but those aren’t the most efficient ways to work.
Not all dealers we start working with own lifts that they can use to service lawn tractors or zero-turn mowers. It’s not absolutely necessary that you have a lift. Many mowers and lawn tractors have been serviced using a floor jack with stands, a chain hoist or a forklift. Your technicians can crawl around on the floor, but it’s not the best way to improve their billable time. Being a business owner, I understand that you invest in your business as money becomes available. There are many things you can do in your service department to get by, but getting by is not the best way to make money. Your goals in your service department are to embrace any software, tool or equipment that will help you maximize the amount of service that passes through your shop and minimize the amount of time your technicians spend working on it.
It would be great if software companies would let you try their software free for 90 days, but that’s not going to happen. Heftee Industries is not going to ship you a Heftee 4000 service lift and let you play with it for a couple of months to see if it will do what you need done. My team is not going to be able to stop by your dealership for free to answer questions on ways that you can improve the processes and efficiencies in your own shop. So what do you do if you have questions about your service department that involve equipment, software, marketing or processes outside of my articles? How do you get answers? Attend this year’s GIE+EXPO and spend time with my team in the new High-Performance Service Department.
Working with Scott Fore, president of Heftee Industries, my organization has formed a partnership with select manufacturers and suppliers to create a working service department that will allow dealers to see how our processes and strategies come together to create a high-performance service department. From the moment a piece of equipment enters the model service department until the time that a customer picks it up, dealers will be able to walk through a complete service process. My team and I will be conducting tours and answering questions as we walk equipment through the entire service process (see sidebar for the training schedule). We will discuss our tagging and staging process. We will explain how to do quick initial evaluations on equipment so that parts can be pulled or ordering can be done in advance of the equipment being in the shop. We will discuss the importance of building your own flat-rate and menu pricing structure, as well as various ways to keep your service customers informed of where their equipment is at in your process.
You will not only get the opportunity to look at the process of moving equipment through the service department, but you will also be able to interact with the technical support teams from the sponsoring manufacturers while they are demonstrating a variety of repairs on their equipment.
Each afternoon, I will also be holding a series of short workshops where I will share ideas on flat-rate pricing and compensation programs for service personnel, as well as tips on finding and hiring top technicians.
If you want to make 2010 the year that your service department improves its efficiency and profitability, make a commitment to attend this year’s GIE+EXPO and spend some time with me and my team at the High-Performance Service Department.
Bob Clements is the president of Bob Clements International, Inc., a consulting firm that specializes in the development of high-performance dealerships. His organization works hands on with dealerships throughout North America, helping them attain the personal freedom and financial wealth all owners strive to achieve. For more information, contact Bob Clements at (800) 480-0737 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his Web site at www.bobclements.com.<P
GIE+EXPO High-Performance Service Department
The GIE+EXPO 2009 High-Performance Service Department will be held at Louisville’s Kentucky Exposition Center Thursday, Oct. 29, through Saturday, Oct. 31. The training schedule will be as follows:
Thursday and Friday, 1 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.
“How to Create Your Own Flat-Rate and Menu Pricing Program”
Thursday and Friday, 2 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m.
“The 4 Keys to Creating a Technician Compensation Package that Works”
Thursday and Friday, 3 p.m.; Saturday, Noon
“Five Easy Steps to Finding and Hiring the Right Technicians for Your Shop”
For more information about GIE+EXPO 2009, visit www.gie-expo.com.