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  • Jim Martin

I Need My Car FIXED! Why is it so Difficult to Get In?!!!

Updated: Mar 10, 2023


I heard from a previous colleague that the local dealership was taking 4 hours for an oil change! Another person told me that they bought their truck from this dealer but are getting their vehicle serviced by another dealer 30 minutes out of their way. He said that he didn’t want to drop off the truck for an oil change that might not even be done the same day! Yet another friend is having problems with the transmission on his 2-year-old truck that is under warranty. His dealer is 6 weeks out for transmission repairs! He tried another dealer 45 minutes away which is much larger, and they couldn’t see him for 3 months!


These types of comments should be taken seriously! What are you doing to keep this from happening? What are you telling your customers? In these instances, the clients felt like their business was not valued and their time meant nothing. There was no empathy expressed to any of them. Even for the guest whose truck was under warranty... other than his need to put up with it for at least 6 weeks longer! And that is for the dealer to just look at it! In each of the cases the clients were never offered any potential solutions or a path to taking care of their needs. Basically, we are sorry for your luck! Service departments have become so busy that many are losing sight of what is truly important… The customer and their perception!


Let us look as some of the things that can help these circumstances.


Oil changes are taking too long. Do your advisors tell everyone to come in at a certain time without looking at the schedule? Do they look at the schedule and overbook knowing that you are going to have to dance and still may not get them all done? What about something as simple as the guest’s car sits on the service drive after reception for 20 minutes before it even makes it to the tech who then has several in front of it? Do your lube technicians have a process that gets the car done with an inspection within 20 minutes from the time they get it? When there is a delay, do your advisors keep the customer informed and offer additional solutions?


How many lube techs do you have and what is your daily car count? How many can they do in a workday at 100% efficiency? Have you set their goals? Have you set their spiffs? Do they have to walk back and forth to the parts counter for their filters wasting valuable time? You must determine if it is poor production, poor training, poor processes, or poor scheduling. Once you have identified the pain point, work with your team to resolve it then reassess. What gets measured gets done!


You may need to hire more lube techs. You might find that is challenging also. What are you offering prospective technicians that your competition doesn’t have? Maybe it’s a four day work week or provided entry level work tools that makes the difference. Ask yourself, why would someone want to work with you? Also ask yourself what employees like that makes them stay. A clear career path goes a long way!


The fix for the technician shortage is not a simple one. ALL service facilities should be apprenticing from your lube rack with a mentor tech at least 2 days a week. Find the right candidate(s) for this. Someone who wants a career as a tech and has an aptitude for the type of work that you are behind on is a good place to start. This employee must have a vision and motivation. Give them the skills! Teach them to be successful. Sure, a lube tech doesn’t know how to do transmission repairs but, if the transmission has to come out then the mentor can teach them how to remove the transmission from the vehicle. This alone is a huge time saver for the transmission tech. As the apprenticeship blossoms, so too does your production.


To pay the apprentice and mentor simply determine your break even on the apprentices’ flagged time. Establish your desired production goals and provide the mentor a percentage of everything above that time. As the apprentice gets more efficient the percentage to the mentor is reduced. Within a matter of months your lube tech has become an entry level technician making more money and is easing the burden from your high demand services. Not to mention he has gained valuable skills and is likely a very satisfied employee.


Your guests are depending on you to take care of their needs. Do not quickly assert that you cant do something. Especially without the why and a path for resolution. If you take my $50,000.00 for a vehicle I am paying on for the next 6 years, then you should want to keep me around to sell me my next one too. To get ahead, you must invest in your people and hold them accountable. They are your biggest assets. They are your face to the customer. Perception is reality. If you were the client, what would you perceive when visiting your business?


For a complete service department assessment or a customized approach to your specific needs I can assist you. Feel free to contact me anytime at (813) 602-1964 or director@fixedoperationsdevelopment.com


Jim Martin

Owner

Fixed Operations Development

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