An efficient and well-run service drive is the heart and soul of any dealership. In many ways, it is the most heavily visited department for your customers who are coming in for repairs or routine maintenance. This presents a huge opportunity for dealers to generate revenue during slow sales times by giving the customer a great experience, and our guest today knows a thing or two about doing just that. Joining Jim Fitzpatrick is Almog Veig, director of fixed-operations at David Lewis and Associates and host of the Weekly Tune Up right here on CBT, to discuss maximizing profitability in your service department.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Hello everyone, I’m Jim Fitzpatrick. Thanks very much for joining us again on CBT. Almog, welcome to the network.
Almog Veig: Good afternoon. Thank you.
Jim Fitzpatrick: By the way, welcome to the network, in the sense that you are the new host of the Weekly Tune Up right here on CBT.
Almog Veig: Thank you very much, I’m privileged to be part of the team.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah, you’re doin’ a great job. So let’s talk about the auto industry, the retail auto industry as we head into the final days of 2018. What are you telling your clients to focus on with regard to their fixed operations department and the service drive to really finish the year strong, what are some of the top things that they should focus on?
Almog Veig: Well Jim, it’s really all about our customers. We don’t take enough time and make enough efforts to really make it customer-centric. The experience has to be about you, the consumer. We forget how important they are in the process, and when we do so, they get lost in transition and they go somewhere else.
Jim Fitzpatrick: What do you tell the service manager that’s listening to us right now, talk about the time spent that says, “We just don’t have the time, we are inundated with customers, the service drive is 17 cars deep when we get to work and it seems like it doesn’t stop until lunch time, and then of course we gotta start dealing with the people that are calling in to get their jobs approved and such.” So it seems to be one of those things where time is still a major factor and doesn’t allow or at least that’s what they’ll tell us, doesn’t allow the service drive personnel to spend good quality time with the customers that come in.
Almog Veig: The reality is that time factor will never change, the nature of our business always remains the same, there’s always something else happening, there’s always an additional thing that gets thrown in the mix. My best piece of advice to dealers listening is slow down to speed up. You have to know when to slow down in order to then speed up the process. There are certain critical moments out of that customer experience that you can slow down and take that time to help the rest of it really speed up and deliver on that level of satisfaction.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah, what’s the one big complaint that you find that customers have about coming into a service drive, what do you hear basically from your clients that say if we could fix this one thing in our customer’s mind or at least their perception of us, what would that be?
Almog Veig: Customers truly don’t understand what’s being done. They don’t understand what goes on in a process, they may not understand the repairs, they don’t understand the length of time it takes to repair. We could definitely do a better job at informing and educating them.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Let’s talk about training for a minute. I know you guys are world class training organization, and how often should training be done among the service personnel in a dealership? Is it every day, is it once a month, is it an event that they go to, what does that look like?
Almog Veig: It varies from store to store, from experience levels. In general, it’s healthy to have some sort of training monthly, but the key is not to just train at once a month, but to have that reinforcement throughout the course, to have the engagement of the staff, to make it fun. Training shouldn’t be done by PowerPoint, it shouldn’t be some after-hours course or workshop that you visit, that you’re required and you get nothing out of it, make it interactive.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Who should handle the training, should it be the service manager or fixed ops director, or who’s the best person and the most qualified person to provide training in a dealership?
Almog Veig: We find the most successful training starts with the third party outside company because the deals the employees tend to be open to listening someone even with similar experience to their own management team because it’s not their management team. The validation then comes after to allow that management team to take that same information and not that we’re gonna necessarily reinvent the wheel, but we may say it a different way, then allow that service manager, service director, and hopefully, we also like to have the GM department. I think it’s beneficial for inter-company, inter-departmental rather communication and development of the training.
Jim Fitzpatrick: In your opinion, do you think a dealership should have a separate BDC department for the service drive or the service department to take and set all of the appointments for service?
Almog Veig: That’s an easy one, without a doubt, dealerships should have their own separate BDC department. At the end of the day, service advisors are very valued and skilled employee, their time is extremely valuable to have them perform an administrative task such as capturing an appointment, gathering customers information is not the best use of their time or for the dealership.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah, for sure. For the dealers that are watching right now, saying “Well, you just added a lot to our expense column.” Is that an essential piece though to move … You gotta spend a little bit to make a little bit more. Is that pretty much the case where you’re telling dealers look, drop some money in a BDC for the service drive, and you will get that return in a big way on that investment because service personnel will have a lot more time to spend with the clients.
Almog Veig: Most definitely. I understand the fear, having been on both sides of the table at the dealership world and retail. I understand the fear of investing in personnel additional staffing, the BDC will actually more than pay for itself because it allows the dealership the opportunity to really capture all those phone calls that service advisors are missing, that’s not their forte. Average dealership drops 35% of their calls with BDC in place, that percentage is significantly reduced, so it pays for itself just by the pure capture of missed opportunities.
Jim Fitzpatrick: 35% of the calls are dropped that go into a dealership without a BDC?
Almog Veig: Yes sir.
Jim Fitzpatrick: That in and of itself would be reason to put a BDC in place.
Almog Veig: Like I said, it was an easy question for me.
Jim Fitzpatrick: I asked you earlier what dealerships should focus on in 2018 for the last days here of the year. Let’s flip it a little bit and let me ask you what should they focus on in 2019, what are the hot areas that if you could get your clients to focus on and get their hands around, they’re going to really insure themselves a stronger year in 2019?
Almog Veig: In our industry, there’s been a tremendous shift in technology with the availability of tablets and all these texting apps. A lot of dealerships haven’t yet truly utilized the functionality that they represent. You can now take videos, text it to the client, email to the client, you can actually reach your service advisor while he’s helping another guest, it pops up on the screen, the service advisor has a quick reply, I will call you back, whatever it may be, but you’re allowing that customer to have communication, have access to your service advisor and then resetting the clock, keeping them calm and collected if you will.
Jim Fitzpatrick: It’s amazing that’s there’s dealerships out there in 2018 that are not using tablets in the service drive.
Almog Veig: It is. You can go as far as some dealerships are still making appointments by hand and putting them in a manual workbook and not using an electronic form to do so, so obviously very various applications across the nation, regardless of the size and scope of your dealership. These are all very easy and cost-effective ways to truly enhance your level of customer experience, that will truly benefit you in the long run.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Well Almog Veig, thank you very much. I appreciate your time today. This has been very enlightening for our viewers and again, I wanna thank you for your contribution to our show and our network. All the best to David Lewis and Associates, everybody that’s down there in Melbourne, thanks so much.
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