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Service you say?


What defines Service today? Everyone has their own views but in a nutshell it is the level of one's expectation for the input of value. In other words if a client or prospective customer is looking for a product or task to be engaged upon it is their definition of what level of expectation for that product or task based on the value outlaid. Typically the greater value outlaid the higher the level of service required to meet expectation. The question is why should a monetary value define the level of service when trying capture market share. In my humble opinion if you created a service process could be measured by retention and not by value it would be a success, let me explain.


I asked my team... What's was the price of the last Hamburger they had? Was is the lowest or highest priced Hamburger they had? No one said it was the lowest or the highest. I then inquired what was the lowest and the highest? This created a delta. Where I was heading was what made the difference. What was it? Sure it could be quantity or product quality but the answer is service. When analyzed, if the price increased so did the service. Again, why? It's our belief system, if we pay more we should expect more, therefore to capitalize on this intelligence we MUST provide more service to charge more money and from the other side of the fence if we are shelling out our hard earned dollars we damn well want the best service.


Now looking at the hamburger scenario there is that point where service costs outweigh value and it becomes fiscally difficult to capture the client or prospect and near impossible to retain them. But is this short term thinking or should the cost of acquisition rise to meet long term goals and retention. Jon Taffer of Bar Rescue believes that it takes four visits to retain loyalty from a customer. If you were to place this in a retail environment such as automobile sales this would be typically a twelve year span or four turns of a three year ownership. Now calculate the customer value with these new figures addressing vehicle margins, potential financial incentives, labour and parts sales, resale of the three trades and their associated profits, plus all the variables that could be added through the manufacturer. This could be significant for a single customer.


If we are to look at that scenario, retention plays a very important part retention of the prospect, conversion to a customer with the final goal a long term client. So, how are we going to do this? My answer... Operate differently than anyone else. Provide a customer experience that is hands down better than everyone. How do we get there research, process, training and execution. All equally important but often overlooked or the step is skipped for an expedited process.


First, we should do our research. This is very important to define our process and can be done at many levels by all of your team members. Create focus groups, mystery shop, delve into digital footprints, analyse reviews, all this data has a purpose to define the best experiences being had by your potential clients. Is XYZ Dealership offering something that you are not, does ABC have a multi-level omnichannel purchase opportunity? Does someone offer valet parking or have a better presence from the road, why? You might be able to offer better experience by a simple process change but if you don't know you'll never know to change.


This leads us to process. I was once tasked with defining an unbeatable delivery process for a European Brand. In doing so I couldn't start at the sale but had to go right back to the point of introduction and carried right through the second purchase. This process was designed to build client retention and led the dealership to increase sales by over 127% in the first year of implementation. The plan was to eliminate any obstacles to purchase by following a dedicated process involving all team members from the beginning allowing for an immersive experience that had complete transparency. This eliminated bottlenecks increasing efficiency reducing the total time spent with each prospect allowing for a more positive experience and outcome.


However without training this process would never have the conversion or retention rates it was designed for. How could anyone be expected to convert without training. You could have all the skills in the world but everyone needs to train. We changed the sales meetings into training sessions following the process steps to maximize our efforts with each potential prospect category. No areas were skipped, everyone knew what their next steps were once each part of the process was completed. This was repeated until it became second nature.


This led to engagement and the training shone when the team engaged the client, our professionalism through the process and training created a customer experience second to none. As Maya Angelou said "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel" and our prospects felt the difference. For us it was the differentiator, this changed everything for us. We closed more sales on initial visits, saw more referrals, increased loyalty and retention. Our margins dramatically rose with a corresponding increase in stock turnover as we followed each step to maximize the customer experience as we knew this was the key to profitability.


What followed next was the by-product of it all a Culture Change. The increase in profitability led to increased income amongst all team members as they were busier and converting more than before bring happiness and security. This added income came without increasing the labour cost as it was performance based. With the internal culture change it morphed externally as the prospects and customers felt the difference. The change in service became the reason for return with both Sales and Fixed-Op retention. It became a reciprocating factor Sales assisted Fixed-Ops and vice versa, a cohesive team effort to provide SERVICE to the individual that funded their paycheck, the customer. This was repeat over and over again with success going straight back to the team.


So when looking into service, look to what the client wants, design your process to meet that expectation and more, train your team to achieve it and allow them to execute it. When this happens the sweet joy of repeatable success will be there for you and your team.


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