The fixed operations department generates the most profit and is key to the overall success of your store, as we well know. So why are most service departments still operating with antiquated processes and outdated software tools? Why is such a small percentage of marketing dollars allocated to the Service Department versus sales? It is almost as if the Fixed Ops Department is stuck in a time warp.
Over the past ten years, automotive dealerships have installed CRM and trade appraisal systems, desking tools and countless other software programs in their Sales, Internet and Finance Departments. Dealers attend seminars ad nauseam and hire consultants to help them nail down the best processes to practice. Tens of thousands of dollars are spent on advertising, both conventional and digital, yet the Fixed Ops Department is lucky to have a marketing company that sends emails and postcards to retain defecting customers.
If you invest the same level of technology and processes in service operations as you do for sales, the industry is quickly realizing that the rewards can be significant. A few years ago, our leadership team tasked me to learn everything I could about Fixed-Ops and to investigate what type of technology was available in the marketplace, specifically for personnel. So, I spent months on the road going from dealership to dealership – observing service processes and extensively learning about their software. I was very surprised how far behind most stores were when it came to technology in the shop since most of my career has been spent working with the software and processes behind selling cars.
Although every shop I visited was very profitable, my investigation uncovered that the communication was extremely inefficient between departments and with the customer. One area, specifically, was the write-up process. Advisors were left to chance when it came to additional service recommendations. I estimate that less than 20 percent of a vehicle’s existing damage was being recorded or photographed. Furthermore, when the vehicle was in the shop, the technicians were walking between their bay and parts with a paper RO – 15-20 minutes of wasted time. Communication between the advisor and customer seemed to be a crapshoot as to whether or not the advisor would be able to reach them if additional work needed to be reviewed and approved. Sometimes they got the approval right away, and other times it took several hours.
Our development team spent last year focused on a solution for my findings. During NADA 2015, we introduced Service1One – an all-encompassing suite of tools that streamline the service management process. Service1One is an easy-to-use web-based technology used in every department– from the moment an appointment is scheduled until the repair order is complete. With seamless integration, the application is completely transparent and guides personnel through the entire process. Because the application is used on a handheld tablet, you never have a need to use the traditional pen and paper system.
It all starts with a service appointment, so we designed a very robust service scheduling tool. Service1One Scheduler is intuitive with a clean interface for optimal viewing across all devices. We took all the feature functionality available in an online scheduler and blended it with our CRM workflows and all-automotive contact center. This best-in-class tool not only makes scheduling easy for your staff, but your customers too!
Service1One Lane addresses the write-up process and provides the advisor every tool needed to create a professional and printable estimate. The walk-around process records vehicle damage and ultimately creates the RO in the DMS – all from a portable tablet. Once the RO is created, the Service1One Shop software takes it from there. Service1One Shop is a fully digital, multi-point inspection process with internal communication tools and provides technicians with the ability to estimate jobs and add lines directly to the RO in the DMS.
Service1One is the first solution of its kind in the automotive industry, solving the real-world issues witnessed first hand. Easy to train and even easier to use, Service1One keeps service staff engaged and producing at peak performance levels. Best of all, Service1One delivers massive ROI – especially in the declined services area. During the product’s infancy, several dealers have already achieved a 300 percent increased in the number of Declined Services recorded, and tripled their ROI achieved from additional sales to those customers.
With hundreds of our customers ready to turn their Service Departments into selling machines, we can see the tide turning with Service1One. Antiquated technology in the back of the store will soon be a fading memory, and exponential increases in sales, efficiency and CSI will be the future of Sales in Service.
By Anthony Monteiro
VP Product Development