Train Your Manager

What would you think if your service manager walked up to a newly hired technician who had never worked on equipment of any kind, and gave them a toolkit, and sent them on a service call?  You would probably be appalled and question their judgment.

No doubt you would tell the service manager that technicians need the training to learn how to use the tools, and how to service different brands of equipment.  Then you would spend a significant amount of money to make sure the technician has the skills they need to do their job. 

Why then do dealers often walk up to their best technician and promote to a management position, and then just turn around and leave them on their own.  I have seen this happen over and over again.  In the service management classes I teach, often there are managers with decades of experience that are just now receiving training on how to be effective as a manager.

The service manager in most dealerships is responsible for the...

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Is Your Comp Plan Truly Aligned with Your Business Objectives

On my first day working for a new employer, my manager was outlining what he expected from me in my new position.  I was starting my career as a District Service Manager for a major copier manufacturer.

 The mangers goal was for me to spend two days when visiting each dealer.  I was okay with that until it was explained that my bonus was based on the cost of a dealer visit and the number of dealer visits.  Now I am reasonably quick with math, and this was pretty simple; more dealer visits and less cost per dealer visit was how I maximized my bonus.

I told him he was paying me for one-day visits, and he said he wanted two-day visits.  I suggested that he change the bonus structure, and he said no.  For the entire time I worked for him, I did one-day visits and sometimes two in a single day.  I did what he paid me to, not what he wanted.

I challenge you to think about your business. Do you pay people to do something different from what...

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Employee Recognition is Not For Salespeople Only

morale service department Feb 26, 2021

One issue in this industry is the lack of recognition of the accomplishments in the service department. When I worked for one manufacturer, they would occasionally invite the service group in for a joint meeting with the sales group. There would always be an awards dinner. During that dinner, every salesperson that met the minimum quota would be called to the stage and receive an award. During that time, I exceeded every goal set before me and received nothing.  Events like this cause frustration and resentment.

This pattern permeates our industry. Salespeople win contests, go on trips, and get spiffs from the manufacturer. While not discouraging this process, I do believe that overlooking the service department creates resentment and is counterproductive. If we look at industry-standard models, service generates all of the profit in a dealership. Every sale to an existing customer is due to the quality of service they receive from your company.

In addition to service, there...

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Disaster Plan: More Things to Consider

 

Disaster Plan: More Threats to Address

 Information Technology

In this disaster plan, IT is third on the list.  If your employees have communications and a place to work, then they will need access to the IT systems they use.  If your IT is on-premises, and the building is not available, you are going to need a list of the hardware that your system uses, and a valid full system backup to load on the replacement system.

If your system is cloud-based, you will still need network access to it.  How can your team get access, and have the bandwidth necessary to keep the business working?

If your system is cloud-based, do you have the technology in place so that an intruder can’t lock you out or steal client information?

People

One early priority is to determine if your employees are safe and in a safe place.  Once you know the status of your existing employees, you can start to work on taking care of clients. You may be in a position where you...

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The Product Specialist - Why You Need One

Uncategorized Feb 19, 2021

Every service manager is tasked with more work than they can ever complete. One of the challenges they face is dealing with the constant flow of information from their vendors. When I was a service manager I had a box on a table in my office where I put the printed bulletins as they arrived. I was always going to read and file them, but it never happened. Today digital files likewise need to be read and available as needed.  One way to help deal with this situation is a product specialist.

What is a Product Specialist

For this discussion, the term product specialist applies to a technician or a supervisor assigned to specialize in one or more product families. A product family is a group of models from one vendor that have similar properties. In many cases, one training class may cover three to five models, and this would be a product family.

Why You Need One

Every week, most manufacturers are releasing bulletins associated with the products they produce. Some of these...

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Successful Recruiting and Hiring - Get it Right the First Time.

In the last article, we discussed the cost of replacing technicians. Part of the cost we included was the cost of “bad hires.” The term bad hire would apply to any technicians that leave the company for any reason before they have generated enough profit to pay for the cost of hiring them. In the last article, we estimated it costs $40,900 to hire and train a technician. Let us discuss ways to improve the quality and probability of success in your hiring process.

Pre-Recruiting Process

One of the first questions to ask is, what kind of candidate are you looking for? Do you want to hire someone experienced? Or do you want to start from scratch? Another option is to promote from within. Each of these strategies has advantages and disadvantages. Depending on how urgently you need to fill the vacancy, the type of candidate you want will vary.

Starting from Scratch

The advantage of starting from scratch is that you can train the new technician to do the job according to your...

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Disaster Plan: Threats to Address

 

Disaster Plan: Threats to Address

The threats you face will be different depending on where you live in the world.  Following are some of the most common disasters.  Think about which may affect your company.

Weather / Natural Disasters

This category is one of the most common disasters that companies face.  It could be flooding, a tornado, or some other natural disaster. 

Natural disasters and severe weather events not only affect you, but they affect other businesses in your area.  So if you have a better disaster plan than your competitor, these events may open new opportunities for you.

Weather disasters can wipe out your infrastructure, your products, and other parts of your business in that location.

Fire

Fire may be one of the higher probabilities.  Think what it would be like if you drove up to your business tomorrow and it had burned to the ground.

Supply Chain

If your business depends on materials from other areas, your supply chain could be at...

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Don’t Spend $25 on $5 Work: How to Make Your Labor More Efficient

Early on in my career as a district service manager visiting dealers, I made a scheduled visit to see a service manager. When I walked into the dealership, the service manager told me that he did not have time to meet—he had to go run service calls. I have seen this misuse of time, in various forms, over and over in my career.

Value Categories of Labor

In each dealership, there are different levels of talent and responsibility, and I categorize them by assigning a numerical value to each one. The numbers are not necessarily what a person at that level earns. Instead, the number represents the relative value of his or her time.

$25 Labor

The highest value labor in each department or company is the most senior management. They need to focus their time and energy on tasks that only they can solve.

$20 Labor

The next highest value of labor is that of service supervisors. They need to focus their time on the teams they lead. They spend their time in the field solving customer and...

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Disaster Planning for Businesses

 

 

Disasters can come in a variety of flavors.  This year, we can think about the pandemic as a disaster and see that it affects every business differently. 

The pandemic was not something most people would have planned for, and most disaster plans probably didn't specifically address it.  However, the process of creating a disaster plan would have benefited those businesses with them.

Following is a story of an unexpected event and the impact of not having a disaster plan in place.  Again this was not something this company expected, and its effects on their customers show it.

My internet, which is the lifeblood of my business, is provided through a cellular reseller.  I had loved their service until this incident hit.

On December 31, 2020, ATT had a server fail. This particular server was the device that handled renewing the monthly service for many ATT resellers.  The result was thousands of customers like myself lost internet for an extended...

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Protect the Power to Protect Your Bottom Line

Many dealers still do not automatically protect the power of the devices they sell and of all the poor decisions that dealers make, this may be the worst. There seems to be a variety of excuses. The client does not want it. The salesperson does not want it included in the deal. It is too expensive. You do not really need it the power is ok.

But all of those are lame excuses. Build it into the deal just as you would build in the cost of setup and delivery. And don’t show it as a separate item on the invoice: that way neither the salesperson nor the customer can try to negotiate it out of the deal.

My Experiences

When I owned my dealership, I had the opportunity to witness firsthand the ways that power protection saves equipment and therefore money. One of my clients had an electrical event that caused catastrophic failure to devices in one area of the building. Devices that were not even powered on were destroyed, including calculators, monitors, and PCs.

In that same area, I...

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