Whether you’re a veteran of the service automotive industry, or are new to the world of auto body repairs, you’re entering it at a time unprecedented in growth and ripe with opportunity. In fact, the USA reported over 6.1 million units in sales in 2017 alone, meaning there are more cars on the road that will eventually need servicing and repair than ever. But when taking over a new dealership, you want to make sure you have the best chances of success. As consumer experience experts, the team at UpdatePromise have some sage advice to get you into the right gear from the outset.
Surround yourself with a great team
As Doug Conant once said: “to win in the marketplace, you must first win in the workplace.”
The power of a team of happy, engaged, proactive employees should never be underestimated. The mindset and attitude of these employees can equate to the crucial difference between customers who leave with a frown, versus those who leave with a grin. Ideally, your team should comprise of customer-service oriented, agile and positive individuals who work fast, can diagnose technical problems with ease, and have a solid understanding of how their work contributes to the bigger picture.
In short, they should be constantly committed to improving your dealership’s overall CSI (Customer Service Index), because this is what will keep you afloat in the automotive business – especially in the early-stages when you’re establishing yourself, or reinventing the dealerships image in the area you service.
Understand your numbers
Numbers never lie, and your first technical port of call when taking over a new dealership should be to look ahead, as far as you can, in order to set clear goals around what success looks like in your new venture. In particular, we recommend creating goals and objectives for the whole department, including an annual operating budget and a marketing plan to promote new and repeat business in your area.
Remember, while it’s important to be successful – sometimes success and profitability don’t always go hand-in-hand. A perfect example of this is customer pay labor. You could be busy with repairs all day long, every day – but without maximizing the customer pay labor potential of those service repairs with upsells, you could be losing out on precious revenue. This is a prime example of success, without profitability. Perhaps you’re making just enough to keep the lights on, but you could be making enough to grow the team further, or pay yourself a more attractive paycheck.
Consider manufacturer warranty and policy procedures
The law is the law, and it exists to not only protect consumers, but to protect you as well! Take UpdatePromise for example – our business is TCPA and FinCEN-compliant, because we know that our customers appreciate having access to technology that abides by stringent federal regulations around consumer and data protection and financial crimes.
Becoming acquainted with the federal, state and local legislation in your industry is required not only to stay ahead of all regulations that can affect your operations (and thus your ability to function as business), but can also save you money in the long run. If you’re found to be breaching or breaking the law, you can find yourself at risk of exposure and substantial legal proceedings.
As a basic start, you want to comply with TCPA, FinCEN, as well as regulations around hazardous waste disposal and OSHA Right-to-Know. You must also provide necessary training to your staff on any of these regulations, as well as ethical best-practice as it relates to them. For full disclosure of what to ensure you are compliant with, it is always best consult a specialized, practicing automotive lawyer who can advise you.
Pursue professional development opportunities
Education is key – because happy minds are healthy, more productive minds. Remember: you don’t need to be working in a white-collar, academic environment for this to be the case for you, and taking over a new dealership will let you carve out your own educational path.
As standard, a professional certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) is preferred for anyone working in the dealership or automotive services – and not just your Service Managers or Auto Technicians! Also, pursuing anything that helps you to hone and develop the analytical side of your mind can be very beneficial, owing to the fact that you will be required to make many quick, diagnostic decisions in your tenure.
If you can involve your staff in that, too, it’s ideal – because they’ll be doing much the same on a day-to-day basis. In our experience, we see the most successful dealerships provide ongoing training on administrative policies and procedures for all department personnel, and love when we see technicians encouraged to keep their skills up-to-date with periodic technical training on new systems offered by automotive manufacturers.
Work with the right tools and systems
If you’re the reading our advice, and ticking them off in succession, you’re well on the way to forging a successful automotive career! You have everything in place: happy employees, industry-standard compliance and robust business goals, so now the only thing missing is an innovative technology toolbox that arms you with the abilities to get the job done, automatically.
UpdatePromise is the leading technology communications provider to dealerships throughout North America, providing leading consumer experience solutions that increase sales and improve reputations.
With features like AI-driven automated status updates via text (which are video and photo enabled), mobile payments and real-time analytics, we integrate seamlessly with the leading DMS systems on the market. At UpdatePromise, our product is our promise: to provide a technology solution that promises to update your customers on the status of their vehicle, helping you to keep customers satisfied and employees efficient at the same time. If you’d like to learn more, you can request your FREE demo now!
At UpdatePromise, our mission is clear and simple. We want to positively impact millions of consumer lives, one industry at a time, by automating processes that enable businesses and their employees to communicate with their customers in an extraordinary way. Take our website for a test drive at https://www.updatepromise.com/.
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