Stopping or Creating Anarchy?
So, I’m visiting a valued client I had not been to for a while. It’s maybe 7:20 a.m., the sun is up now and the Northeast soothing morning temperature is perfect, no humidity to be found. “Sweet,” I’m thinking as I hustle towards the service department. This late summer perfection is quickly interrupted by a gang of semi-organized cars and trucks resting in lines outside drive lanes, sans drivers. While inside there is a disorganized herd in a big room expecting to get an “oil change” in no more than a half hour, cause there ain’t nothing to it according to the 10-minute quick lube disasters.
The unusable reception design (created by an obviously clueless major manufacturer’s so-called architect), is probably the worst I have ever witnessed – a closed in sit-down counter maybe 25’ long, one opening nowhere near the drive lane, trapping the worn writers behind it. Steely-eyed patrons seeking the vaunted “empty chair” in front of the one player who can get the ball rolling – a weary writer trying to type and process mounds of paperwork as quickly as possible. The key word for the morning is “NEXT.” Four of these souls, plus a BDC and a rental employee, create enough cacophony in this non-sound absorbing echo chamber to drown out any normal conversation. As a result, voices are lifted steadily above the fray compounding the noise to rock and roll decibel height.
“The BDC personnel can only function as well as the scheduling system is designed based on writer schedules and the available tech staffing skills, all tied to working hours…”
As you can calculate, the quality of all transactions is marginal. The pure pressure of this cattle drive causes zero additional services to be found (few MPI’s are completed) and less presented. Even more troubling than the resulting very low hours per RO, is the fact that the services being published and promised, such as the MPI process, are ignored, creating a great potential for liability issues. Essentially customers are being told in print that safety and dependability inspections are being done, but they aren’t, and no fault of the technicians, who are victims of this lack of organization themselves.
Cap this mess off with no confirmations of the customer concerns leading to plenty of NPFs, as well as a few NFPs by irritated techs. Oh, and already damaged vehicles – well they are just fixed for free since no one confirmed the damage up front. There’s more, such as a huge pile of unclosed ROs, but you get the gloomy picture.
As you can imagine there are no sales to service handoffs, no education about the required maintenance needs, no review of the appointment/scheduling system, and no introduction to anyone in service – not even a service walk during the sales process. Customers, after the first visit, figure out quickly that getting in early for their freebie is a key, so there are constant instances of them banging on the doors at 6:15 a.m., 45 minutes before opening if anyone is present. The writers try to hide behind the massive glass windows in front of their “chamber,” but the all-knowing manufacturer has proclaimed “no tint” and “no blinds”, topped by a store culture of “whatever the customer wants;” hence, the time set aside for creating estimates and closing paperwork gets filled too often by the “let me in” crowd.
The lid on this pressure cooker is the BDC program utilizing a schedule unfortunately designed to create an automatic overload by setting up far more arrival appointments than the team could possibly handle. This brushfire, combined with pint-sized reserve hours, walk-ins, emergencies, and the dealer’s many “friends” made every day a major get-it-done challenge, especially in the pre-lunch period.
The immediate fix was to redesign the appointment schedule to match the staffing capability. Secondly, we expanded the service hours by moving writers and various skilled techs to work unique hours, so we could stay open until 7 p.m. with coverage, all designed into the upgraded scheduling plan. Included in this array, was an aggressive greeting plan to help overcome the pathetic physical layout as much as possible.
Also important was to design how the BDC personnel, none having much experience and little or no technical knowledge, would word-track the customer interactions. For example, in a mere fifteen minutes of listening, I heard one BDC member blow off two customers when they threw out a couple demands, and the customer’s name or phone number wasn’t even retrieved so that they could be saved.
So, two BDC areas were addressed: 1. Proper word tracking and common situation customer handling examples were developed to be reviewed, practiced, coached, and followed up. It will take a bit of time and effort to perfect these conversations, but there is little choice. 2. A series of technical training overviews for the most common issues and all required maintenance were designed. These included the information necessary to coach customers and to understand when a customer can/should wait versus leave the vehicle, and generally how much time to set aside for pre-loading.
The BDC personnel can only function as well as the scheduling system is designed based on writer schedules and the available tech staffing skills, all tied to working hours – that’s number one. However, as important, are the BDC-customer conversational skills, based on the specific objectives of each. The BDC personnel must have at least a fundamental knowledge of maintenance and some other technical knowledge related to shop loading and skill assignments. The most efficient and successful BDC personnel I have seen were successful writers in the past – no one grasps the overall situation better than one who has been there and done that so to speak.
Sorry, but a fresh-face untrained smiley twenty-year-old just ain’t gonna get it done.
If you’re interested, I have some effective Service BDC word tracking you can utilize/modify to review-practice-coach your personnel, if you have this entity. Just send me a note to EKovalchick@Dealer-Communications.com and put on the subject line, “BDC Process-Butt Saver” and I will reply directly. A controlled and precisely managed service schedule is a beautiful thing, but someone has to step up and make it happen – that could be you Paco. Yeah!