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Tag Archive: Express Service Management

Steve Hall

Why Dealers Should Be In Express Service

Express Service

Dealers know you must provide fast, convenient, and competitively-priced service in order to retain your customer base.  They also know that oil changes and light maintenance are the most requested service items by customers.  Knowing this, why do dealers continually fight express service?

I’ve heard all the excuses: it hurts my hours per repair order; it hurts my gross profit percentage; it hurts my effective labor rate; I can’t make any money in express service; the list goes on and on.  Shouldn’t we think about it differently?

Isn’t it logical that if a customer comes to you for express services, you will have an advantage to getting the remainder of their maintenance and repair work?  Customers generally do business with people they trust.  If you start to grow that relationship from day one, when the only things that are needed are express-types of items, won’t you have the trust of the customer when the “real” repairs come into play?

We need to realize express service is the gateway to real profits, and if done properly you can make plenty of money along the way.   After all, how do you think all the mass merchandisers and independents stay in business?

Let’s look at it this way, have you ever taken a low profit (or no profit) deal on a new vehicle?  I’m sure that every dealer has, many times.  Why do you do this?  Often times it is because you are getting a trade-in you feel you can make money on.  Other times it is so you can move a unit off the lot to reduce your inventory costs, or maybe to help you reach unit bonus levels for factory incentive money.  Possibly, it was just so you would have an opportunity for the F&I department.  Whatever the reason you decided to take the short deal, you have a plan.  The loss of front-end gross on that unit gave you opportunities to make more money in the long run.  You had to make the deal to gain all of the other benefits.

Can you relate this thought process to express service?  We must retain the customer in order to get all of the long-term benefits.

But express service has an added benefit.

If properly structured, you will make money in express while retaining your customer.  That is a win-win, both short- and long-term!

Take a few minutes and examine how much money is spent on a single vehicle over the lifetime of that vehicle.  Include average warranty work, recalls, oil changes, maintenance, tires, brakes, breakdowns and everything else that happens eventually to every vehicle.  Once you add all of these dollars together and look at the complete picture, you really see what the customer is worth over the lifetime of the vehicle.  Now you must develop your plan to make sure that customer never goes anywhere else, and express service has to be part of that plan.

Let’s look at express service for what it can and should be, a profit center with long-term financial benefits.  Remember, customer retention is a good thing.  Get fast, get efficient, get competitive and get profitable!

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Steve Hall

Great Training Ground or a Bad Plan?

“Tommy, I was sure impressed with you during the interview process and now that you have finished up all of the pre-employment screenings, let’s talk about when you can start. How about Monday of next week? Can you be here at 8:00 a.m.? I know this is your first service writer job, so wear professional clothes and we will start you out as an Express Service advisor.”

Is this a good training ground, or a bad plan?

Service WriterAll too often it seems that dealerships use the Express Service advisor position as the training ground for new service advisors. We think it is an easier position to learn, and they can’t get into too much trouble, after all it’s only Express, how hard can it be?

Do we ever consider that on a daily basis, the Express advisor touches more of our customers than any other person in the whole dealership? Do we really want to turn over a responsibility of that magnitude to a green pea? A typical salesperson may take two or three “ups” a day, a main shop service advisor will generally handle 12 to 14 customers a day… but an Express advisor will generally handle 18 to 24 customers a day! (I hear some stores claiming 30 to 40 customers a day per Express advisor, YIKES!)

The impact of their skills and ability will largely determine the department’s future customer retention and current department CSI scores. They have the largest potential for returned surveys due to the number of interactions they handle. With CSI being tied to SFE and “below the line money,” how much impact do you want your newest employee to have?

Express customers demand fast, efficient handling in order to meet the time constraints of Express Service. Your Express advisors must be highly organized, energetic and able to multi-task in order to make this time-strapped environment move efficiently. They need to know the product lines, and be able to sell value and benefits of each service offered. And they must do all of this under a very compressed time frame.

When new or inexperienced employees get this much responsibility thrust upon them as they are still trying to figure out their product and environment, it can be dangerous.

Granted, it is easier to learn Express Service than the main shop for advisors, but how do we keep from having a negative impact on so many important items during the learning curve? So what is the solution?

That’s a great question and here would be some of my top suggestions:

  • Try to keep turnover low. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to do a better job hiring.  Take time to really find a great candidate, interview thoroughly and know exactly what skills and traits the person needs to have to succeed in the position.
  • Don’t show them the ropes for a couple of days and then turn them loose; take time to really train them. Don’t let them handle customers until they have adequate skills. Once they do start with customers, watch them closely and continue to train them. Did I mention that you must continue to train them? I can’t say it enough!
  • Realize it will take 12 to 18 months for them learn and master the skills they need to use on a daily basis. Work with them on the complete journey.
  • Role play on a regular basis. Work on every situation that you can think of. Be the customer and have them sell you everything. They need to be comfortable with this. It takes time, encourage them as they improve.
  • Have them learn early that Express advisors must sell service. The earlier they learn that it is a sales position, the better.

Everyone has to start somewhere and maybe Express is a good place to start, but only if you realize the impact they can have on the department. Whether it is positive or negative, the responsibility falls on your shoulders to make this a success.

At the NCM Institute, we help service managers learn how to improve performance in their departments.  Sparking thoughts, like the ones mentioned in this article, is just one of the ways managers learn to think about their business in new ways. In that process, they develop better skills and become better managers. Let us help you develop your skills. Call us at 866.756.2620 for information or visit us online to see the many service management training programs we offer.


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