I talk to service managers all the time that say they feel pulled in a hundred directions at once. They say they get a million emails, they have fires to put out, unruly employees to manage and too many customers that demand one-on-one time with them and nobody else. Here's my advice- stop whining and crying and do something about it - the only thing worse than a crybaby employee is a crybaby boss!
If that sounds like you- there is hope and you need to know that you aren't alone. There is a lot to do - but you just can't let the email machine or anything else get it's claws in you to the point that your store is "managing you" instead of you managing the store. You have to get organized and creative and you have to get a handle on time management - remember I said time management which means you managing your time- not letting time manage you.
I believe one of the most important jobs a true winning service manager has is being involved with his sales team - the service managers and techs. Listen guys- a really great manager just can't know what's going on, improve the customer experience and can't close more deals if they are sitting in their office at a desk. It just won't work!
I'm not saying you put all of your other duties and responsibilities on hold, I'm saying you have to get creative and keep your priorities in order. For example, email doesn't have to be done at your desk- it's mobile and on every Smartphone - take control, carry your job with you, instead of letting your job pushing you around. There's lots of ways to do this - for example, teach a clerk or BDC person how to run your performance reports instead of running them yourself - then you review those reports and key performance indicators while you are 'on the drive' as other things are happening. I think it's really about setting up processes that make this work - and the goal is to manage the store while you are out there on the drive or in the shop. You have to run service like a sales department and you have to run it like you own it!
Think about how the sales department operates - usually the sales manager is sitting in a tower that lets him see what's going on in the showroom - I think we should have a service tower or at least a desk on the drive for the service manager. Now, don't get me wrong - I don't think the manager should be an advisor. He should however, greet customers, listen to what is being said, pay attention to phones that are ringing, read body language, close deals and push work through the shop. That is where all the powerful stuff happens- and the reports and emails can be handled on his Smartphone or computer on his "drive desk". Imagine how cool it would be to really know what is going on - in person and on paper and on the phone at the same time. Now imagine the changes - the extra 2-3 ROs that get written each day, the extra phone calls that get answered, the customers that leave happy instead of pissed off- and the extra effort everyone puts out because the boss is watching, training, motivating and reviewing performance reports right out on the lane - Wow!
I jokingly say this line - "Stay out of your office, nothing good ever happens in there. The only thing that happens in your office is customers bitching or techs asking for a raise! Lock the office door and throw away the key - Stay out on the drive as much as you can!"
We all choose to do the things that are the most important - so if all of those things are important find a way to do them all- not just the ones in the email or on a report. I'm just sayin'
President - Car People Marketing, Inc.