Fixing the disconnect between dealers and fixed ops with inclusion

Chris Schaubert joins Inside Automotive to discuss why managers overlook the service department, and how they can be more inclusive

Chris Schaubert, the Founder of Fixed Ops Solutions, joins Inside Automotive for another discussion on service department excellence. On this episode, Schaubert and host Jim Fitzpatrick discuss the ways in which dealers overlook their technician teams, and what they can do to be more inclusive.

It is easy to become hyper-fixated on the front-end of the business. After all, profit margins are the manager’s primary responsibility, which explains why customer-facing, income earning roles such as sales tend to receive the most attention in the dealership. However, this unbalanced focus leads to an unbalanced storefront, where fixed operations feel left out, and struggle just to stay motivated, much less profitable. This lack of inclusion fosters a disconnect between separate departments which only hurts the dealer’s aspirations in the long run.

This tendency to overlook the fixed ops department is rampant in the industry. As an example, Schaubert references an occasion where he offered to buy Starbucks drinks for a client’s office employees. When a lone service department member, who happened to be in the showroom, asked if he could get a drink as well, Schaubert was embarrassed for the accidental exclusion. “I thought to myself: why haven’t I done this?” he recalls. After handing out orders for the entire dealership, another technicians approached him saying, “You have really no idea what this meant to me…nobody ever thinks about us.” Given the lack of support or inclusion many fixed operations divisions face, it is little wonder dealers struggle to manage their service departments.

Be in your service meetings, not just your sales meetings...Get in the huddle and talk to them from a culture standpoint." - Chris Schaubert

Unfortunately, convincing leaders to give their technicians the respect and attention they deserve can be an uphill battle. In a separate instance, Schaubert spoke with a dealer whose employees were extremely dedicated to the business, but wished for more support and gratitude. One suggestion was to hand out paychecks in person. When told this, the manager’s response was, “Signing the checks should be thanks enough.” This attitude failed to earn loyalty in the past, and continues to do so in the present.

To get the most from each department, Schaubert recommends that car business owners change their behaviors, and set unique visions for separate teams in their dealership. By creating and assisting with individual goals for each department, management can provide their teams with much needed motivation and stability. Staff members will be more productive when they have access to an inclusive and supportive leader, which leads to better revenue and customer retention.