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Ugly Duckling or Swan?

This past week I have had a number of conversations focused on the Ugly Duckling of the dealership; Fixed-Ops... Wow, that's harsh but is really? We tend to treat this department that way. Always pushed to the back of everything, the building, the website, statements, you name it. So what is it and why do we look upon it in that manner.

Coming from a variable background you would think I would be standing up loud and proud by saying we are the powerhouse of the dealership, without us nobody could function as until a car is sold there is nothing to be serviced or require parts. We are the drivers of all revenue of the dealership. Depending on your thoughts this may ring true but is it the actually truth. Does Variable actually support the dealership?

If we are to look to the absorption rate the quick answer would be a simple N.O. End of story. In fact, we would get the statement of you just sell them and we keep them coming back without service you wouldn't have customers.

So what we have is the old "What came first the Chicken or the Egg?". It happens in every dealership every day.

How do we change this mentality and mindset?

Let's divide Fixed for a moment starting with Parts.

Nathan Mirza of 180Dealer.Com stated in a recent conversation that the Parts Dept. was looked upon as the kicker of a football team. A necessary position but not something you would draft first would you? We both believe that this position is VITAL to the team and personally I would draft the kicker first. Are yourself this question... Who individually typically has the most points per player on any football team... The kicker. They are called in for EVERY scoring play, plus field goals, they are usually only a single player and have a longer lifespan than anyone else on the team despite being the busiest. Sound similar to parts? Also as Nathan stated... Who do you think knows your DMS the best? Not variable I can tell you that. 

Ninety-nine percent of the time parts are sold on every transaction in a dealership yet they lack support. When was the last time you had a parts advisor go to sales training? Never? Why is that? Don't feed yourself the typical answer that they are not in sales. They DAMN WELL ARE. Everytime they pickup the phone or approach the counter, they are selling. More so as Nathan says they are typically selling Service Labor without realizing or recognizing it. Want to increase your labor sales improve your team in the corner of the dealership. Teach and spiff them and watch things change.

Let's move to the Service Dept. again like the Parts Dept. they are typically undertrained and definitely under utilized. Additionally, they also lack the simple support to make their positions become true focal points for the dealerships.

If the service department accounts for 70-80% of the total dealership traffic, why isn't it first on the dealership navigation menu on the website? Why do we promote sales as being the top priority knowing that once the vehicle is delivered the retention rate drops to 30%. Who is failing on that handoff? Additionally, if an average 80% of the service traffic is now from other dealers we must understand and capitalize on this opportunity; dealership wide. So why are we not strategically and tactically looking at this.

Personally I believe this is a two fold concern. First is we are creating impasses, roadblock and obstacles everywhere for this department. We are not focusing on the challenges but demanding solutions and results. How can we hold people accountable if we do not give them the means to do their jobs. Once we realize that we need to provide the training, coaching and tools, we need to hold them accountable for this investment by actually tracking, charting and planning their growth. Second, is we need to break down that wall that separates Variable and Fixed. We need to get everyone on a ONE TEAM, ONE ENTITY platform. Every department within the dealership has a function, each function has a reason, and with ALL of them the dealership wouldn't survive as they feed each other.

In reality it's that simple.

With this mindset... We can start looking to invest in our teams. Make them stronger, better, faster, more efficient. Take away challenges. Give them support and tools. Focus on what we do regardless of department, SELL. Let's start searching out ways we can bring benefit to our teams rather than always looking to squeeze out results from what we've got. We need not only to provide training but we need to follow that up with coaching. When we start doing that we will see these two departments truly shine and be looked up upon as equals throughout the dealership.

Only then will we see the Ugly Duckling as the Swan it actually is.

Please feel free to share by reposting. Also you can contact Peter directly at or (872) 274-4422

Peter represents VidCalls in Eastern Canada as well as being the Founder & Managing Partner of Lion Partnership. He can also be seen weekly on the #AutoHubShow and Podcast. Helping The Industry One Show At a Time, #LethalSales Podcast, and as Host of the #AutomotiveInnovatorsandDisruptors Clubhouse Room..

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