Service Department Coaching is a Top-Down Process

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By Ted Ings, Executive Director

The service department used to have red-hot sales and top CSI in the zone. 

But lately it has plateaued, maybe even started slipping. General Managers and Dealer Principals want to see continual growth from their fixed operations departments, which have been more important than ever for dealership profit since front-end gross is declining.

And since there’s a service manager, the responsibility for success falls on their shoulders…right?

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That’s not entirely correct.

It would be easy to assign blame to the department manager, but there’s a good chance there’s more to the problem than that. If the service department has been shining brightly in the not-so-distant past, it says that, probably, the right people are in place. That means that the problem isn’t the people, it’s the process. It’s a coachable problem. 


Don’t look at the service advisors or the technicians yet. That’s not where it starts. It isn’t even something that begins with the service manager.

To assign primary responsibility look at the Big Chair upstairs, because service department coaching starts from the top. 

Relate it to what a technician does in the shop: vehicles are constantly being enhanced with new features, electronics, and powertrains. Their toolbox needs to be equipped with the right tools for the job, requiring constant investment, year after year. 

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You wouldn’t expect a technician to diagnose today’s high-tech CANbus communications systems with an OBDI reader from 1985, would you?

In the same way, the service manager requires coaching ‘upgrades’ regularly to enhance the department’s performance. If there’s a problem with the service department’s performance, the Dealer Principal and General Manager should not only be aware but involved. 

In CPI’s training, we start by meeting with the dealer and General Manager to discuss the objectives and metrics and review expectations from the training sessions.