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Taking Parts and Service to the Next Level Part V:

Quicker Isn't Always Better!

The other day I visited a pretty big dealership that had a designated quick lube area with 3 bays – well not bays really, they were pits – you know like the ones at Jiffy Lube. There was a huge sign out front that directed customers to “Quick Service” and to the right of it there was a sign that just said “Service” which indicated where the normal service department was. I have to tell you – I always thought that was a bad thing to say – quick service, because it makes you assume that the other service department should have a sign that says “Slow Service”…wait – that would probably be much more accurate. In fact the word service itself is often not accurate.  Try going to a dealership service department and see how long it takes for someone in Service to give you service. See how long it takes to get greeted. See how long it takes them to answer the phone. See how long it takes to pay your bill - Oops, sorry, I went off on a tangent about service there for a minute, but I am back on track now – back to the focus on Quick Service areas.

Quick Service the sign said – so I went over to see how quick and convenient and inviting the Quick Service Center really was. There was a small waiting room, a small restroom, a small counter and one write up person / cashier (oddly enough, she was small) – tiny girl, about 4ft tall, which I was sure was hired because she just fit... anyway – I decided to walk around to look at the tiny little shop (can’t believe they call it a shop, but anyway, in the shop) there were 6 guys. I call them guys, not technicians, because they were just doing oil changes – and no they were not all short, small guys – so don’t go there ok?

Again, I say they were doing oil changes because that’s all they were doing – they weren’t inspecting the car, they weren’t checking the fluids, they weren’t looking at the brakes, they weren’t checking the wiper blades, they weren’t rotating the tires…just changing the oil and filter – that’s it. At first, I was pretty impressed to see how well they did their job – I mean they worked together like a pit crew at a Nascar race. Each bay (pit) was manned by 2 “guys” - one in the pit and one above – and let me tell you, this was not their first rodeo – they have done this dance many times before. It was like they already knew what the other was thinking – and I quickly realized that someone had put a lot of work into the processes these guys were doing. I mean, someone had really focused on timing, efficiency and speed – and at first glance, again I tell you, I was really impressed – but then it all came to an end.

Let me explain. There was rock and roll music playing and the guys were jamming. They were not lazy by any means – they were really working hard – but what I heard next really blew me away. What I heard next immediately told me that whoever put all of the hard work into the processes – had missed the mark horribly. The guy above the pit yells out as loud as he can – “11 minutes 4 seconds – That’s a record!” The guys from pit 2 voice their disgust at being beaten and vow to give them a run for the money on the next car that comes in. Pit 3 shouts out that they were robbed because the car they were working on had a stripped oil plug. I was waiting on a fight to start! It was like I was at a ball game or the Olympics – Yeh, that’s it, a timed event at the Olympics. It reminded me of the guys that ski down the slopes in an effort to go around the moguls and flags without hitting them, but still they have to get to the finish line in the fastest time. It also reminded me of the ones that make the trip down the hill, miss a few flags but still get to the bottom quickest – but the penalties cause them to lose the gold medal.

As I watched this well-oiled, oil changing pit crew, I realized that they made it to the finish line in record time, but they missed a bunch of flags on the way down. The penalties they got, in my opinion, will take them out of winning – just like the sloppy skier. Here’s what I am saying – Quicker Isn’t Always Better – you have to be quick for sure, but you have to be good, accurate, precise and you have to do whatever it is you are doing – right. The guys in the quick service at this store (and so many other stores I visit) were not doing the job right; they were just doing it fast.

Customers come to your dealership because they believe you will do the job better than Jiffy Lube or one of the other independent, quick oil change places. They expect you to let them know if their car needs something that will save them time or money in the future. They expect you to be the experts and they understand that it takes time to do a job right and they are willing to wait a nominal amount of time to get the job done right. They are not, however, willing to wait an hour to do an oil change or to get their paperwork. They are not willing to be ignored or avoided when they arrive for service and they are not willing to call your store 4 times to try to get you to answer the phone. Put yourself in their shoes for a minute – would you be willing to go through what you put some of your customers through?

Here’s the deal. You have to have an efficient way to, “in a timely manner”, get customers cars in to change their oil. You have to be competitive, both on price and speed – but you also have to give the customers what they really want – quality at a fair price in a convenient amount of time. That is what they want and that is what you have to give them if you expect to grow your business and keep customers from ever defecting to the competition – come on guys – this isn’t rocket science, you know this.

The guys at the dealership I visited were impressive to watch, but they had missed one of the main reasons customers chose their store – quality! They were so focused on rushing the job to beat the clock that they forgot to do the entire job – and the result is that they left money on the table and customers in a car that might need important repair work or preventative maintenance. Quicker Isn’t Always Better – Quick and Done Right – Is Always Better!

Go back to your quick service area and meet with your “guys”. Let them know that while quick is good, quick and done right is better. Make sure they complete a multi-point inspection on every single car. Make sure they present that report to customers to build value, build trust and build sales. Make sure they slow down enough to do it right and make sure they know that customer retention is more important than beating the clock by 5 seconds. Talk to them about the skier or pit crew scenarios and point out that the pit crew that is fastest but leaves the lug nuts loose - loses the race. I know we have to offer more convenient maintenance services if we are going to compete in the market we are in today – but don’t get too caught up in the quick part – don’t let your store be the fastest loser.


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