That Customer Never Buys Anything (contin)
providing & illustrating the samples to the customer. When all was done & said during that
particular process the advisor made an up-sell of a necessary flush due to contaminated
power steering fluid, this went on throughout the day and of course I was pleased that they
were utilizing proven and effective tools learned from our training course.

I stepped outside the service bays to watch from a distance.
I witnessed an elderly woman
pull into the service drive, hand the advisor the keys as they exchanged pleasantries, then
this sweet little lady walked away to the customer lounge. I thought well perhaps she had an
appointment or she was returning for previous recommendations during a prior visit. There had to be some reason
for not performing a service history review or a walk around inspection with the customer present. So I asked the
Service Manager, Tom, to look at the repair order. I was a bit taken back as the RO was for a simple oil & filter
special. That’s not too surprising you may be thinking to yourself about now right? Well that’s what I thought.
As part of our service training process, we require that 100% of the
repair orders have a copy of the service history. You see, this proves
to eliminate or at least reduce the amount of time that a technician
has to spend reviewing a particular vehicle. Thus reducing down time
& extra personnel pulling files and researching concerns.
    So there we were, 4 men standing under this late model sled when I proposed a
    question to Joel. Keep in mind that I am holding the repair order in my hand and I
    continue to review the service history as I question this particular vehicle's
    previous and current inspections. It goes something like this; "Joel do you think
    that this car, when it was here around 7500 miles ago, had that left front c/v boot
    in tact?" he says “I don’t know,” So, I asked him again, "Joel do you think that it's
    possible that this car had that c/v boot here 15,000 miles ago?" He repeats his
    previous answer and says “I don’t know.Right about then the GM starts getting
    worked up and say’s to Joel, “Well what exactly do you know? Joel then says calmly, "Mrs. Johnson
    never buys anything and she comes in here all the time when her car is due and says it’s time
    for her service."

    I for one admired his blatant honesty; on the other hand I thought this guy must be a loon to be so bold
    to come back with an answer like that. So I decide to finish my questioning with Joel and say to him, “Do you
    think it is that she never buys anything is due to the fact that you never recommend her necessary repairs
    and maintenance. He boldly says “Maybe”. Moving forward, I proceeded to point out that the c/v boot was
    indeed missing, the axle joint was dried out and loose, and the front tires were worn beyond belief.
    Reminder: this is upper Michigan, its cold up here in the winter time - extremely cold.
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Jim Bernardi has held such positions as; Dealer, General
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The General Manager & Service Manager stayed with me during the following steps: I asked the parts dept
to get a P & A (Price & Availability) then I requested the SM reserve a loan car for Mrs. Johnson. Just then the SM
says she won't need it, she only has her oil changed on a regular basis. I stood there shaking my head back & forth
thinking that this type of poor management is the reason that processes stop and profits soon follow. I just looked at
the GM and he was also concerned.


    I walked into the customer lounge and introduced myself to Mrs. Johnson (lovely lady) and walked
    through the sales process accordingly. I started with “I can see that your husband has certainly been a
    great influence on you when it comes to keeping your car serviced," she stated, "Yes, I was taught to
    always bring my car in every 3 months or 3,000 miles. Since his passing I need to keep reminding
    myself when the car is due for service." All I could do was smile.

I also said, "We value your business as well as your continued dedication in allowing our team to be your choice in
the scheduled maintenance of your vehicle. It is our duty and our privilege to deliver you a Safe and Reliable vehicle
back each & every time you visit us. However, at times we don’t always perform our duties as required, in short we
sometimes make mistakes." She was very understanding and stated that she appreciated my honesty. I proceeded
by stating,  "I must inform you that we have observed that your left front constant velocity boot has come apart and
this is a part that protects important front suspension and drive-line components to keep them lubricated and safe.
Your boot unfortunately is missing. Due to this, your front tires have become worn & need replacement. This is
certainly not by any fault of yours, it is a component that wears over time. We are, however, able to start the repairs
for you today at a cost of $759.00. We will provide you alternative transportation while we complete the necessary
repairs; this price includes both front tires as a result of the front suspension concern as well as the c/v joint and
boot replacement including the labor associated with the repairs. We will have your vehicle completed early
tomorrow afternoon, Shall we get started?"
She simply thanked me and requested her garage door opener
from her car and authorized the repairs.
    It is not that a customer won't purchase. The fact is, the workforce refuses to follow
    protocol when it comes to job performance & duties as prescribed in the dealership
    employee handbook. So what is it costing you to continue to follow examples like this one?
    This is a real story! I simply changed the names to not humiliate the ones responsible for
    this scenario. This could have had dreadful consequences as a result of terrible follow-
    through and execution of  proper process.
Are your managers short
stepping important processes?

Do you think as a result of
poor processes that the
current condition will continue
to eat a hole in your wallet?

Will it result in a loss of
customer satisfaction and
future new car sales?
Ask yourself the following:
moving on; I observed that the same technician Joel had been the technician on
the previous services for the last year and a half. This particular service history report
indicated an alarming statistic. I often tell advisors that a service customer's car is like a
crime scene accident, there are plenty of tell tale signs to observe from a customer's
driving habits and maintenance history.  As I continued to look this car over, I watched
Joel change the oil & filter, check the tire pressure, refill the crankcase, affix an oil
sticker reminder on the windshield then back the car out and proceed to park this car.
When inspections are mandatory on 100% of all qualified
vehicles
it is important to all parties involved. I recently read of a
Mazda dealership that had a customer appreciation day. They had a
contest to perform the best inspection. Keep in mind, this is the service
advisor with the customer. After all, isn’t that what our advisors are
supposed to do, recommend necessary & important maintenance
based on fact and make a quality presentation based on needs,
importance & simply safety.

Allowing your staff to make a judgment call on your customer’s
behalf is an accident waiting to happen
. If technicians and
advisors alike allow just one customer to slip through the cracks this
will open the door for yet another after market (your competition) to
obtain, and possibly forever retain, the most important commodity any
dealer principle has….Your customer. I have yet to meet a customer
who would choose the safety of their family over the cost of a needed
component or a service repair. Customers are purchasing value.
Period.  
If you are looking for ways to increase customer loyalty, future sales and gross profit margins then it’s time to
contact me. Our team will design a personalized dealer/franchise specific business plan that will eliminate the
probability of poor inspections that were mentioned in this article. Change only starts when the Management is
willing to accept responsibility and provide a means for supporting a process that eliminates poor performers
within the dealership.


Until my next article, expect performance & demand excellence. Also require daily service & parts sales
reporting from your management team in your fixed department. If you want things to change then make this
process a job description in their everyday responsibilities.  “It’s not personal its business.”
I was completely baffled. After he parked the car in the lot I asked Joel “Please do me a favor Joel” he say’s "huh",
so I repeated my request and he complied, of course with a bit of apprehension. You see, as Joel was backing this car
out of his service bay I stood behind the car and saw some abnormalities from a standing view only. Joel brought the
vehicle back on his rack and proceeded to lift it for my inspection. Prior to the car being placed back on the rack I
requested that the General Manager, David, as well as the Service Manager, Tom, be present with me while I reviewed
important inconsistencies within this process.