SALES v. SERVICE (continued)
It still appears to be a good deal, and with the options my payments only went up an
additional $64.00 per month. After spending a good while in the sales process, we had
completed all transactions; I transferred my personal belongings to my new vehicle and
proceeded to drive my fancy new ride home. I am certain, like many new car owners driving
down the highway, that everyone must have known that my vehicle was new. It was clean,
shiny and it drove fantastic. It had the fresh scent of leather like only a new car can have.
I arrived at the Service Department only to be greeted (play on words) by an advisor.
The first thing I heard was “Did you have an appointment today?” All I could do was smile and
say "Yes I do." The Advisor says “What seems to be your problem that brought you here
At that point, I did not realize that I was a burden to him, or that I was taking up his valuable
counter space with 'My Problems.' I explained the light on my dash and requested to also
have the vehicle serviced while I was there. The advisor took a deep breath and exhaled
loudly. He said “I have to enter you in our system.” I could have sworn I would have already
been in their system. After all, I bought it there.
    I witnessed several discrepancies with the performance of this department. I also made it a
    point to not get angry with a poorly trained advisor. Let’s face it, advisors perform like this
    advisor did because management allows it to happen.
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Jim Bernardi has held such positions as; Dealer, General
Manager, Director of Operations, District Operations
Manager, Parts & Service Director, Service Director,
Service Manager, Service Advisor and is President of
AutoPro Training & Marketing Solutions. A National Fixed
Operations Training Company which guarantees
increased GP or their training fee is free.
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The Service process is more difficult. The advisor in this example was not the most
knowledgeable in any shape or form and the cost exceeded the value. After all, the only
thing I received was a technician turning off a light that bothered me on my dash. I wasn’t
shown the value of the product or the importance of having it replaced at that particular
franchise. As a customer all I have to go on is the word of an advisor
    The service process is one thing; “Trust & Credibility” is a whole different show. It is a
    relationship where the only thing a customer buys is someone’s word. If you purchase brakes, you
    really cannot see them; sensors you also cannot see, as well as internal mechanical components. Most
    used car managers have the same reservations when going on the word of their service department.
    Just prior to placing a used vehicle on the lot after a UCI, you are truly trusting the decisions and repairs
    performed to word of mouth. Most customers have great difficulty making a rational decision when
    value or credibility is not presented by the service team. Not all service departments operate this way.
    I have witnessed exceptional service and selling skills all across the country.
On average, the typical service advisor is trained in-house from other advisors/managers. He/She handles more
customers in a day than a salesperson even sees in a week. An advisor is typically paid between 5 and 10% of
gross profit, while a salesperson receives between 20 and 25% commission. The average service advisor
generates between $40,000 and $60,000 per month in parts and labor gross.

Question: How many vehicles would your sales team need to generate to average $40 -$60K per month in gross?
You are beginning to understand some of my concerns. Although I understand Fixed Operations inside and out,
I am
still their customer. I was given an estimate to look into the light concern. I was picked up by my wife and leave for
the office with a promise of a call explaining “what my problem was.” He said I would have a technician’s diagnosis by

It was getting later. It’s now 1:15 in the afternoon and still no call. I called the service department
only to be told that my service advisor was at lunch and I had to wait for him to return from his
break to explain what was going on.

It’s now 3:45 pm. I called the dealership, spoke with the advisor and requested information regarding my vehicle. He
explained why the light is coming on. It’s at a tune of $425.00. I request to know what on earth is wrong with my vehicle
& why the cost is so extreme. He simply states: "That’s what I am told to charge for the sensors to fix you vehicle”. Out
of utter frustration I authorize the repair and am told it won’t be ready until the next day. I go to pick up my vehicle only
to find that the bill is now $511.81. So I request an explanation and am told; “Oh yeah..You forgot to add the tax and
shop supplies.”
I forgot?? By then all I wanted was my keys and get the heck out of there.
Moving forward. Several months had passed and I was having a concern with a light continually lighting on my dash
board. So I attempt to make the dreaded service appointment in hopes that my busy schedule could accommodate
their time slot.
The Sales process is not an easy one, but it ends with a tangible product that I can feel
comfortable with. The sales department was selling me quality based on my expectations
of a particular product that I had an interest in. When I was purchasing my vehicle new, I
understood my product because I researched what I wanted and thought I could afford. I
knew beforehand the value of my purchase. My salesperson was polite and knowledgeable.
So I now propose the following questions:

  •  Who created the largest amount of gross per month?

  •  Who typically has a bigger impact on your CSI?

  •  Who do feel needs to be the better salesperson?

  •  Who typically receives the most training in dealerships?

  •  Who typically receives the most training in communications skills?

Answer: It is typically the salesperson. We understand all too well the importance in having a well seasoned
and professionally trained sales department. A service advisor continually is selling your dealership. They are in
front of your sales customers every day. And let’s face it, if your service team is not performing on all cylinders,
your customers go bye-bye.

  • Customers will buy most of the services that are presented to them, but are they
    making the purchase out of fear or as a result of the unknown?

  • Are your customers being given information in a manner and language that the can
    understand, or is the Service Advisor too wrapped up trying to sound analytical?

Customers want to trust the people that they are doing business with. They come into your dealership
hoping to meet someone who will make them believe that when they spend their hard earned money, it’s going to
be a worthy investment.

If dealers have a process to deal with their staff for concerns such as the one I proposed in this story, then the
chances for an unhappy customer are minimal. However, if you are dealing with under-performing, uncaring,
unethical employees, then it’s time to make the change for the better. I have learned over time that it’s typically
not a people problem but a
process problem. If you want to fill your service bays and showroom floors it will be
dictated by how your staff is trained and how they are performing right now.

"If change brings grief rather than growth it's because the transition is wrong."

Think about natural growth through reasonable means, rather than wrong transition & no promise of future