What DPSM's Need to Check During a Dealership Visit - Part 2: Service Lane Controls, Retaining Technicians, Active Delivery, CSI, Training, and Coaching

By Ted Ings, Executive Director

In our previous article, we began discussing the seven essentials District Parts and Service Managers must check during a dealership visit. Today, we continue to explore the topic. 

What to check during a dealership visit

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Like all DPSMs, your time is limited – and valuable. Review these seven crucial processes to make the most of each dealership visit.  

4. Check that service lane controls are in place 

Observing what happens on the service drive throughout the day will tell you a lot about your dealer. Take the following into account when making your assessment. 

Early morning procedures are vital

In any retail business, including automotive, you’ve got to start early. The service lane needs to be ready long before customers start rolling in. To ensure your team is doing a good job prepping for the day, get to the dealership early and note these activities: 

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·      Are pre-works ready to go?

·      What time do Service Consultants arrive? They should be on time and available long before customers.

·      What time do Technicians arrive for work? Like advisors, techs must be punctual as well. 

·      Visually check the day’s pre-works at about 8:45 am and see if there are any no-shows. Point this out to management.

You’ll get a clearer picture of what’s truly happening when you arrive early. Use this opportunity to observe the drive and shop, as well as walk the lot and take notes of items that management should address. 

Also, to help your dealer further, consider including a morning “checklist” with the following items:

·      Preview the reservation log and technician schedule. Do they both make sense? Will there be enough racks to handle the schedule? If not, you’ll need to prepare customers for any delays or changes you may need to make. 

·      If the dealer provides a shuttle or rental car service, are the vehicles ready for use (i.e., full of gas and clean)? These should be your own manufacturer’s brand vehicles if possible.


·      One of the worst things that can happen on a busy morning is not having enough parking available for customers. Make sure your dealer organizes the parking lot in a way that allows the process to flow smoothly. 

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·      Directional signage should be placed at the entrance to the dealership’s property. 

·      Expand the “Early Bird” write-up system to a 24-hour write-your-own repair order program.

·      Include a sample Vehicle Report Card in the envelope along with a Maintenance Menu. Include a word track to address this in the Reservation script! 

·      Do they have enough write up sheets, hats or mirror hangers, rental contracts, express check-in forms and pens available?

·      Is all pre-work information ready?

·      Are there enough people available to greet each customer? If they don’t have a regular greeter, have you asked the sales department to assist? This is a JD Power driver of repeat and referral business.

·      If they have a refreshment center, is it well stocked and clean? Is the coffee made? Are there cups and napkins available? Another JD Power driver!

·      Are supplies in the restroom stocked and are the restrooms clean?  Someone should check on the condition of the restrooms periodically throughout the day.

Welcoming each customer

As was mentioned above, a greeter is an essential part of the service lane experience. If your dealer has an employee dedicated to welcoming customers, make sure that individual is located near the vehicles (not wandering around the facility). Hiring a “Walmart” style greeter for the busy morning hours is a good idea. 

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Even the most organized dealerships struggle to welcome each customer when it’s extremely busy. But the process can improve with a little coaching. Make sure the service team:  

·      Always acknowledge a customer who appears to be trying to get their attention. 

·      Remain calm and level-headed. Showing frustration or stress will only aggravate the situation. 

·      Provide self-help solutions by encouraging those who are in a hurry to fill out an express check-in form. 

·      Ask for permission to be excused if they must leave the customer for any reason. “I’m sorry, do you mind if I get this customer her keys? She forgot her purse.”

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5. Ensure service is being sold properly 

Customers need a good reason to give you their hard-earned money. Your dealer will certainly lose business unless they’re at the top of their game.

Monitor communication skills

 To maximize the potential of the service team, make sure advisors are doing a walk-around of each customers car. Also, note whether advisors are doing the following: 

·      Presenting the features and benefits that are important to the customer

·      Discussing price

·      Assessing the customer’s reactions, feelings, and opinions

·      Getting the customer involved

·      Tailoring all presentations to the customer’s dominant buying motivators

·      Making the interactive walk-around different and unique

·      Lead with questions, rather than pulling with statements

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Observe closing practices 

Your service team must know how to seal the deal. Most of the time, a combination of closes will be required for a decision. The magic number is five; most advisors close on the fifth attempt. 

There’s also a list of things service advisors should not do, such as: 

·      Not asking for the sale
·      Asking without confidence. For example, “Shall we write it up?” or “Shall we go ahead?” 

·      Being high-pressure 

The successful low-pressure service consultant just asks for a commitment to ensure the fact the customer has bought. Closing is nothing more than asking for a decision at the right time. 

6. Make sure the service delivery process flows smoothly 

One greasy fingerprint or muddy boot stain can completely compromise the customer experience. Ensuring vehicles – as well as service advisors – are ready for delivery is fundamental to your dealer’s success. 

Take note whether your service advisors do the following: 

Before the customer returns

·      Check the vehicle to ensure it’s clean, all work has been performed properly, etc.  

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·      Put the vehicle through the carwash (upon drop off, they must ask the customer for permission before doing this).

Once the customer is back to pick up their vehicle

·      Smile and greet the customer when they return. 

·      Highlight the repairs completed and ask the customer if they have any questions.

·      Remind the customer the goal of the dealership is 100% satisfaction and in the event of any problem, to please call immediately.

·      Inform the customer they will receive an important survey, and ask that they fill it out. 

·      Ask for a good rating. 

·      Ask for referrals. 

·      Walk the customer to the cashier 

After the vehicle is brought to the delivery area 

·      Doublecheck the vehicle is clean, radio off, seat adjusted, etc.

·      Walk the customer to the vehicle.

·      Remove temporary floor mats, etc.

·      Offer the neatly packaged old parts to the customer.

·      Offer to help them adjust the seat, mirrors, etc.

·      Thank the customer!

·      Ask how the service experience was.

7. Note whether the dealer provides training and coaching 

When is the last time your service department had formal training from an expert source? A professional coach can significantly improve the processes at your dealership.


To help your team reach its maximum potential, contact Ted Ings at CPI for a complimentary discussion of opportunities. 

Seven essentials DPSMs must check during a dealership visit - Part 1