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Rick Wegley

Rick Wegley

Author's details

Name: Rick Wegley
Date registered: September 28, 2015


Rick Wegley’s 30-year career spans most aspects of the retail automotive service, parts and body shop business. And he has deep experience in Fixed Ops, working as Service and Parts Director and Fixed Operations Director for multiple dealer-group operations. In 2008, Rick founded a consulting firm that enjoyed contracts with major OEMs from domestic, European and Asian brands. In this capacity, Rick provided dealerships on-site operational and financial assessments, identifying opportunities for improvement and helping dealers create business plans for process changes. Rick also trained dealership personnel and management staff in these process changes. Rick has also consulted and created operational assessments for major non-OEM mass merchandisers. Today, Rick is an instructor for the NCM Institute.

Latest posts

  1. Announcing Something New at NCM: Service Advisor Training — September 22, 2016
  2. Endangered Maintenance — June 16, 2016
  3. To BDC or Not to BDC: Are Business Development Centers Here to Stay or Just a Fad? — May 10, 2016
  4. Groundhog’s Day at the Dealership — February 2, 2016
  5. Wagging the Dog: Don’t let a 5% problem ruin everything — September 29, 2015

Most commented posts

  1. Announcing Something New at NCM: Service Advisor Training — 4 comments
  2. To BDC or Not to BDC: Are Business Development Centers Here to Stay or Just a Fad? — 2 comments
  3. Endangered Maintenance — 2 comments

Author's posts listings

Rick Wegley

Announcing Something New at NCM: Service Advisor Training

Mechanic wrench tool

I’ve been chomping at the bit to make this announcement, and we just got the go-ahead!

After years of your asking for service advisor training, I’m happy to announce that the NCM Institute has added one to our roster. And I’m delighted to be teaching the first class in October.

Good management starts with a solid team

This is a significant change for NCM, which has focused on executive and management training since it began six years ago. But, as we’ve fielded call after call for training designed specifically for the professional service advisor, we knew this was an issue we had to address.

And, honestly, it made sense. Managers and other leadership team members need accountability management skills in all areas of the dealership to effectively growth dealership performance and profit.

We looked into it.  The challenge was selecting a provider that aligned exactly with our fixed operations management training philosophies—and there are many qualified vendors in the market today—but that mission, we discovered, was impossible. In response, we created our own.

Piloting the program

In 2015, the NCM Institute began offering our own service advisor training course on-site at dealerships across the country with tremendous success!

We started with the goals, objectives and philosophies of the NCMi service and parts management training curriculum, and then built our advisor training on these principles. The response has been remarkable, and I genuinely believe it’s because our approach gives your service advisors the same messaging as your managers who have attended our management training courses at the Institute. It streamlines management and gets everyone moving in the same direction.


Protect your front line

As a service guy myself, I’m particularly excited to be part of this new opportunity at NCM. Service advisors are our front line personnel, and they are the ones who, individually, represent both our dealership and our manufacturer to our client base on a daily basis. And yet the opportunities to develop the soft skills and leadership potential of this group are few and far between.

Frankly, our service department deserves better.  As managers, we need to re-evaluate our strategy for improvement in our operations, and understand that our dealerships are judged on financial and customer satisfaction responses that are a direct result of the performance of our front line personnel.

Developing peoples’ full potential should be a goal of every department manager or dealer operator. And where better to start than with the front line employees who drive the future prosperity of our customer retention and repurchase efforts?

Seats are limited and filling fast for this inaugural event in Kansas City on October 27, 2016. Please reach out to NCM Client Engagement Specialist Jeff Hardin at for more information and to reserve your dealerships’ seats.

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Rick Wegley

Endangered Maintenance

Cars in the automotive service

You’ve probably heard about the “disruption” of our business model and the need to become more focused on asset management—in the service department, we’d call this time management.

In the changing economy, the importance of understanding work mix, effective labor rate, and gross profit planning by opportunity to do business has increased. This is a chance to create the “modern service department.”

The Rise of Meager Maintenance

Manufacturers have reduced required factory maintenance services to an oil change and tire rotation. Added to that is a list of “inspection only” items to be performed at each interval through the first 100,000 miles of ownership.

In a sense, maintenance has become an endangered species.

I’m sure that essential services, such as oil changes and tire rotations, will continue for most manufacturers for many years to come. But, even today, there are vehicles on the road that do not require these services. We have vehicles equipped with fully electric motors and directional tires with offset wheel configurations that eliminate the need—or even the ability—to perform a simple tire rotation. These same machines have powertrain components that require no fluids, contain sealed housings with contents that exceed field service capability, and, because of that same advanced technology, they will only fail on very rare occasions.

In response, we already see a change in our work mix. Based on the most recent NCM statistics, reporting dealers and our Retail Operations Consulting team are nearing five years old with an average of 60,000 miles. In metro markets or those dealers with higher lease penetrations, the averages for both vehicle age and mileage are much lower.

Preparing for Fixed Ops’ future

I seriously doubt—and I’m confident you’ll agree—that any manufacturer will produce a vehicle requiring more maintenance than anything they are producing today. And I’m certain that our retention of new vehicle purchasers (especially used vehicle buyers) will never be higher than it is today unless we do something dramatic to keep these customers returning to our service drives for all of their maintenance needs.

The situation isn’t improving, so here are my recommendations for handling disappearing maintenance jobs:

  1. Do a work mix study. Look at the frequency of visits by make and model year, and what types of services are the most common, by the frequency of opportunity, coming through your service drive. Identify which maintenance services are not being presented or sold, and determine why.
  2. Review your current maintenance menu strategy. Does it align with your manufacturer required maintenance intervals? Even if your manufacturer uses some oil service or maintenance reminder algorithm, the maintenance service intervals are still predictable. Keep your menu simple, easy for both the advisor and customer to understand, and build the menu packages in “common sense mode.” Use “good-better-best” pricing strategies for factory and dealer recommended services, and make sure you involve your advisors and technicians in the menu building process. If they don’t buy in 100%, I assure you they will not present 100%.
  3. The menu should be shown at the time of vehicle sale with a personal introduction to one of your service staff. The intervals and included services should be reviewed and the first service appointment scheduled before the customer leaves the store. This process should also expand to include menu presentations to 100% of existing customers who come to your dealership for service, either during the interactive walk-around if the client is in for routine scheduled maintenance, or during the active delivery to set customer expectations for the next service visit.
  4. Always set the next service appointment during the active delivery process. Do this by gauging the next service due interval based on historical time and mileage between services using the vehicle service history. Create a point of reference for follow-up with your customer—just like your dentist sets your next appointment before you leave her office after every check-up. When implementing this best practice at your store, you must also develop a process for follow-up with each of these customers several days before their scheduled appointment to verify they are still on track for the service visit. This gives us the opportunity to adjust the appointment date or time, if necessary, and will greatly reduce the number of “no-show” appointments for our advisors.

Maintenance has become an endangered species, but it won’t become extinct anytime soon. Take a proactive approach to identifying missed opportunities, and look carefully at your strategy moving forward to maximize what business already exists. Plan your work, and then work your plan.

Need more help breaking down your work mix and identifying opportunities for improvement? Join Rick and the other NCM experts at the NCM Institute for classes such as Principles of Service Management I, II, and Mastery.

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Rick Wegley

To BDC or Not to BDC: Are Business Development Centers Here to Stay or Just a Fad?

Manager Instructing Customer Service Representatives In Office

Whether you have a small or large store, you’ve heard of a BDC. The concept has exploded over the last decade, with many experts positioning the Business Development Center (BDC) as the end-all, be-all solution to our lack of accountability with our existing sales force.

I don’t doubt that there are benefits to having a BDC, but what are we genuinely trying to accomplish with additional personnel when we’ve already hired a sales team?

Where did automotive BDCs come from?

The BDC was born out of the dramatic changes in customer-dealership communication witnessed over the last decade. The adoption of digital communication options such as email and social media, plus new expectations from customers that information be easily obtained online, has led to dramatic changes in how we train our people and how they interact with our clients.

The BDC provides a way for dealerships to manage the communication strategies of our first point of contact with both sales and service customers. In effect, the BDC regulates conversations and provides a consistent message to our clients that lead to a prospective sale.

Are BDCs worth it?

I have to ask: Is a BDC a crutch for our failures as managers, coaches, and leaders to teach fundamental communication and sales training? Or are we creating a new opportunity designed to increase sales and improve closing ratios with our current leads?

Let’s be honest, well-run BDCs are expensive. I estimate that operating a truly functional and adequately staffed BDC will likely cost upwards of $150,000 per year in salaries and benefits. This cost is a conservative estimate and is limited to a single person on any given shift, covering only normal hours of operation. For dealerships that operate both a sales and service BDC, this cost would likely double.

I am not anti-BDC, but I would—again—ask you to consider the fundamental objectives and goals of your intended BDC operation. Does it generate new business? Or is the BDC just following up on the leads your dealership already has?

And, in both scenarios, does the BDC exist because you haven’t trained your current employees on the correct processes and communication strategies to handle inbound leads? Perhaps better accountability and tracking measures would ensure that sales staff is taking advantage of existing opportunities.

If you choose a BDC, create a successful one.

If you want a high-performing BDC, you must clearly define and communicate your goals and objectives, not only to your BDC personnel but also to your sales force. Best practice is to have your intended BDC staff spend some time on your sales floor or with your service department so that they have a full understanding of how your daily operations integrate.

Once that training is complete, make sure your sales and service employees spend time with the BDC on a weekly basis. This ensures that each team member better understands the different roles each department plays in the sales process, the unique challenges each face, and how their objectives and goals align. Communication between departments is a prerequisite for good performance.

Bringing it all together: A successful sales team.

The ultimate purpose of a BDC is a high-performing sales team that brings in—and closes—leads. With a well-defined strategy, aligned goals, cross training of key personnel, and regular communication between sales, BDC, and service you can support a wildly successful BDC operation.

The key elements of success or failure of any BDC operation are fully dependent on their ability to generate new business or retain/improve closing ratios on existing business opportunities. Any other method or reason for implementing a BDC would be considered only a crutch—a very expensive and likely wasteful crutch—for your current operational practices.

What do you think: Is the BDC simply a sales crutch? Or a valuable and necessary component of the modern auto dealership?

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Rick Wegley

Groundhog’s Day at the Dealership

ground hog marmot day portrait

Most of us wake up every day in the same place, listening to the same sounds. We follow unchanged routines as we prepare for the day ahead. If a friend were to ask you about your life, you’d probably shrug and say, “Eh, nothing much’s happening.”

But that rut takes a toll. I know that when my life starts to feel mundane, I can let the passion for what I do wane. You’ve felt it, too—that moment when your ability to think creatively and your normally supportive personality slips away.

Our frustration with everyday life can cause anger. We stop helping others to serve our own selfish needs, thinking that will solve the problem—and, yet, we’re still lost. Why? It’s because our passion and creativity were born from helping others. And, trust me, when you lose that passion, it profoundly affects your life on the job and those around you.

Groundhog’s Day at the Dealership

I remember when it happened to me. After several years of consulting, I was starting to feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog’s Day. Do you remember that movie?

The plot always resonated with me. Murray plays Phil Connors, the salty weatherman who finds himself stuck repeating February 2 over and over again. At first he’s pretty angry and self-destructive, but caught repeating the daily loop, he finally discovers fulfillment in helping others.

After several years of dealership consulting in the field, the repetition of my work was starting to get to me. Then, like Bill Murray’s Phil Connors, I realized the true value of service.  If I wanted to make significant change happen in a dealership, I had to commit to making a difference in someone else’s life. I had to actively decide to move beyond the day-to-day repetition I was experiencing and choose instead that I was going to adopt a meaningful and positive attitude that would encourage others.

Just like the movie, I only had a day at each dealership to make all of the pieces fit together and help the customer. In order to do my job well, I needed to use that limited time to inspire my clients and foster their passion for change.

When I redirected my focus on the assistance I was providing my clients, my attitude dramatically improved. I found my creativity had returned and the passion for my work not only alive and well, but deepened into a calling. It’s all about helping others.

Escape from self-serving patterns  

One day the repetition of your work is going to get to you. You’ll experience a personal Groundhog’s Day, and feel trapped in a world you created—and you’ll most likely feel like what you do makes no difference to anyone. It will be, in a word, horrible.

But when that happens, think about all of the things that you can do for others that will inspire them. Challenge yourself to work in service others, not just in service of your career goals. When we help others achieve their goals, or inspire them chase their dreams, there is a multiplying effect—one that fuels the fire and creativity in others—that in turn fulfills our own lives.

In any long-term career—whether in automotive or another field—you’re going face times of frustration in your work. How have you rediscovered your passion for work? Did you, like Rick, discover meaning from helping others? Tell us your story.

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Rick Wegley

Wagging the Dog: Don’t let a 5% problem ruin everything

Over the last several years, I’ve visited hundreds of dealerships. And, while performing operational assessments, I discovered that the majority of the headaches plaguing the culture and profitability of my clients were self-inflicted.

The problem with too much regulation

Intending to control unique and infrequent variables—and keep them from disrupting their daily routine—I found managers who kept adding steps and reducing employee empowerment. They chose this approach in lieu of defining the structure of the fundamental process, then documenting and training employees on it.

You can map out only so many scenarios. No matter what, unpredictable and uncontrollable variables will appear in nearly every customer service or sales environment.

Ultimately, managers created hurdles that made their jobs easier. But these limitations severely curtailed their employees’ ability to meet objectives and take care of customers. Most importantly, they completely changed their overall process in an attempt to manage the 5% of unique variables we call exceptions within their business model—and, in doing so, negatively impacted the 95% majority of the customers. Worse, they even created culture problems within the store!

Variables are unavoidable

So many processes changed. And, yet, these managers still were unable to avoid the unpredictable and uncontrollable variables that come with doing business.

By trying to control everything, most created new problems along the way. Now, they spend an inordinate amount of time and resources trying to manage a department with ineffective processes for handling the majority of their day to day operations.

Employee morale is low. Customer satisfaction suffers. And the department isn’t meeting its objectives. There’s pressure from above to “right the ship,” and these managers are unable to identify the root cause of a growing problem.

Manage by the RIGHT numbers

You should definitely manage by the numbers, but make sure you’re using the right ones.

Take a good look at your current structure and re-evaluate your current processes— simplify wherever possible. Involve your employees. And solicit feedback from both them and your customers on what is working well and what they feel needs improvement.

Once you have simplified and streamlined your processes, put them in writing. Hold meetings with all of your employees and make sure they all understand the revised processes. Provide the necessary training and resources for employee success. Definitely let them know what the empowerment guidelines are and the accountability aspect for each individual role. And clearly explain the minimum acceptable standards for performance.

Don’t forget the “why” part of this equation when discussing any changes with your employees. Discuss some contingency plans you have considered for the exceptions, and then review the empowerment tools that you have provided for them to use. Give examples of how and when they should be used.

The 5% goal

Manage 95% of your business by process, and then manage the 5% of exceptions. Once a clearly structured business model is in place, a manager should need no more than 5% of their time managing unpredictable and infrequent variables. This ideal state requires simple, defined processes (in writing) to manage the majority of predictable and measurable daily activities that contribute to profitability and customer satisfaction.

Is the tail wagging the dog at your store? If so, take a good look at your current structure and re-evaluate your processes. Chances are 95% of your problems are self-inflicted.

Tell us how you manage exceptions in your business? Is it a 95/5 mix or something different? Comment below with details. 

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