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Monday, July 6, 2009

Service is the New Sales

7-6-09 Apex, NC

If you think about it, a fixed operation (service) has to drive every sale for both the dealership and the customer. The days are long gone when the customer left with a vehicle, never came back and we simply didn’t care. We’d just go get another one. With sales way down in the car business, June was considered a sales “success” because numbers were just plain bad instead of horrific; these still are times for the automotive record books. The last time the car business had nowhere to go but up was way back in 1981. And we also know nothing happens until a vehicle is sold, but that second buy, from an owner- based client, is based solely on that experience in the service lane.
I was in Knoxville TN over the weekend and I drove past the GM “ghost town” dealerships; yep, the ones that are done for good. In Knoxville, like in every town, the dealerships that survived this sales tsunami are combining efforts for marketing and advertising and they are working hard to achieve outstanding customer service, during and after the sale. The good stores get it when it comes to service and customer pay.
Service is the key term here. People are holding on to vehicles longer and they are considering pre-owned vehicles as they assess their transportation needs. It is the service and parts departments across the country that keep the business afloat. The service writer and the parts counter person are integral to this success. I take four vehicles in for service at the GM dealership closest to me. I trust them to do the job I need and to do it right. But sometimes they are jammed full of oil changes and rotations and I get lost in the shuffle. When eight people show up at 8 a.m., someone has to wait.
Waiting around when there is disorganization and overbooking is the death wish of any service department. The dealerships are leaner than turkey burgers now and one solitary advisor might be the only one in the lane as the customers line up on a Monday morning. People often get whizzed, and CSI suffers. In service, CSI is now the only raise the employees will ever see. These employees are commissioned –based and pay themselves. So it is a double-edged sword when service breaks down. The customer and the service department both suffer.
I ran across a product for Fixed Operations that works for the customers and the advisors. I endorse it 100% because it works. It is simple, and easy to understand. That is why I want to mention it here. It is called SHOPTRAK and can be assessed at www.shoptrak.net
If an old sales guy like me endorses a product for simplicity, it is something you just have to assess for yourself. Drop SHOPTRAK an e-mail. sales@shoptrak.net
I am into the customer big time. It is the only thing to focus on. I like making a profit and I like saving my customer time and money. And I love SHOPTRAK as a software tool for both ends. It is win-win in today’s market. Let me know what you think.
You can reach me (Jim Vogel) at www.vtrconsulting.com

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