The Power of 4DX in the Service Department!


Working with Service Departments has allowed me to be exposed to many different strategies, techniques, processes as well as the latest technologies, software and tools, all with the same basic function; to advance the companies goals of client satisfaction and profitability. A well thought out, detailed step-by-step strategy is very important and serves to establish a protocol for a perfect customer experience. It also allows for employee / client consistency, to get everyone on the same page, so to speak.

I love the way you work it – NOT! 

I have to be candid, no strategy, software, kiosk or tablet will work until we work it! Most commonly, when I diagnose a dysfunctional or underperforming business, the lacking element is simply EXECUTION! Yes, a lot of the time folks know EXACTLY what to do but are failing to actually do it!

Lack of talent pool affects ‘getting it done’

Now, in fairness, there are many MANY scenarios, especially the last several years, as the economy has heated up and remains REDHOT where Service Advisors and Technicians have had to work with a SKELETON crew. As these fine people get busier and busier, they will often shortcut important steps that would advance them to their goal….but they don’t have the resources to do it because of the sheer volume of customers they must engage. The “path of least resistance” kicks in and that individual can even get HABITUATED to “doing it the wrong way.” When this happens, these folks must get “rewired” to accomplish the correct process steps again instead.

Trying to get a sip of water from a fire hydrant

When I engage a Dealer client we focus on the MOST pressing Process or Processes that will affect the greatest initial change and make sure we make them CONSISTENT. I Call this the “PROCESS PROCESS.” The key here is to get an employee shaped process installed and ROUTINE before we move onto the next procedure. We must stay at square 1 until the initial endeavor is accomplished and “just the way we do business.” In this way, we tackle each process before moving to the next.

Verbal Directions vs. GPSservice department

Recently, a Dealer client of mine introduced me to a book by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey and Jim Huling called The 4 Disciplines of Execution (4DX). BAM! What an eye opener!, Here we have proven methodology that aligns perfectly with Service Department goals and objectives. Fixed Operations Managers, this is like GPS for your goals! I encourage you to explore this book, I listen to audiobooks myself. I wanted to go over The 4 Disciplines of Execution and briefly what they may mean in the context of a Dealership Service Department.

  • Discipline 1: Focus on The Wildly Important.

Exceptional execution starts with narrowing the focus— clearly identifying what must be done, or nothing else you achieve really matters much….What are very few actual things that we are trying to achieve? For a Service Department, you may come up with different answers, but I wanted to share mine for a recent engagement.

GOAL 1: Create and maintain client Relationships that produce raving fans
NOTE: Every client is “under our care” and deserves the very best treatment and closest professional relationship. What are the activities and measures that create and enhance raving fan advocates? More on this in a bit.

GOAL 2: Advise Every Client properly
Attain client satisfaction and profit goals through Advising and following through on commitments! In this step we are “Simply Asking” and not prejudging they clients response. We are sharing information in a prioritized way and presenting options.

Functionally: Both at Write Up, and Post Inspection let’s ensure every client is advised of their Needs in 3 priorities.

  1. Prime Concern and associated
  2. Necessary Needs / What Needs to be done next?
  3. Maintenance Needs that are due now or past due that could wait if they had to. (If they really can’t wait, move them up to Priority 2.)

Discuss the advisor aspect and the technician aspect of this with your team!

  • Discipline 2: Act on the Lead Measures

There are LAG Measures and LEAD Measures in our business. While a lag measure tells you if you’ve achieved the goal, a lead measure tells you if you are likely to achieve the goal. For example, while you can’t control how often your car breaks down on the road (a lag measure), you can certainly control how often your car receives routine maintenance (a lead measure)(especially if your Advisor is advising you properly!). And the more you act on the lead measure, the more likely you are to avoid that roadside breakdown!

Here are some example Metrics for our listed GOAL 1

  • Lag Measures: Quality and quantity of reviews and surveys
  • Lead Measures: Early warning questionnaires, Advisor questionnaire with Client and commitment to give a perfect Survey. Email penetration results versus clients visited.

 Here are some example Metrics for our listed GOAL 2

  • Lag Measures: Advisor & Technician Sales and Process Results including
    • CPRO count-
    • Hrs/RO-
    • ELR-
    • MPI Compliance
    • Overall GP produced
    • Productivity
    • Commodities Saturation

Lead Measures: In-process measures that occur at the time of execution;

  • Declined and condition codes related to;
    • Sales at write up
    • Sales after inspection.
  • Observationally are Clients getting Advised? Are they truly getting the information that they need related to their prime concern any immediate needs they have and maintenance that is due or past due based on the dealership recommendations?
  • Discipline 3: Keep a Compelling Scoreboard.

Solution: Tech and Advisors Scoreboard. This has to be ANTI-Analysis paralysis and reserved for ONLY the KEY measures we are trying to track. RULE OF THUMB: If you can’t tell if you are winning or not within 60 seconds, go back and further simplify! A digital scoreboard for dealerships can be accomplished very economically and easy to implement. Make sure you utilize an area that is not customer facing but that the team members can see easily.

  • Discipline 4: Create a Cadence of Accountability.

Reg frequent meetings despite the whirlwind of everyday business. Consider that everything else is a “necessary evil” except our key wildly important goals. I recommend going to a weekly meeting at minimum for advisors and technicians solely to discuss only these KEY items. During these meetings, question for the team each individually: What are the 1 or 2 things that we can do that will have the biggest impact on the scoreboard ask your team that question. During your meetings, I listened to the response. Get their commitment to execute their own plan.

Each team member is asked to make a personal commitment to their goal That they decide that they can accomplish.