Sharks and Minnows: A child’s game of pursuit reminds your dealership to just keep swimming to avoid time robbers in the name of boosting your profits

Do you remember playing tag as a kid?  Someone was “it,” and they ran around trying to tag another person to make someone else a new chaser to be it.  I recently watched some kids at the park playing a version of this called “Sharks and Minnows.” In this game, two kids were called sharks and they were considered it. The sharks role was to call: “fishy, fishy come out and play.” As the other kids or players, the minnows, slowly approached, the sharks yelled: “Shark Attack!” and gave chase. If they tagged another child, that kid became a shark, too! Finally, the last two untagged Minnows switched roles and became the sharks in the next round of play.

How does this relate to my service department, you ask? Think about the sharks in your department. Are you seemingly chased by the things that call to you daily and rob you of your most valuable resources: efficient use of time and increasing profits?

Here are 7 ideas to reduce the daily “shark attacks” at your dealership:

  1. Managing the Shop: In some smaller marine dealerships, I have seen shop foreman instead of a service manager. Are they reviewing reports for proper scheduling, technician efficiency and productivity? Who is monitoring warranties? How long are units sitting on your property after the work has been completed, waiting to be cashiered? The longer they sit there, the longer before you get paid. That’s a bite in the swim trunks. Hire and train a good service manager or at minimum, empower and set expectations with your Shop Foreman!
  2. Service Writer Training: Are your service writers properly trained? Are your service writers performing a complete and thorough walk-around in order to upsell parts? “If the customer comes in for a routine repair, what other items do you automatically check and communicate concerns or tips to the customer?” This is a soft-sell technique that increases parts sales and incidentally, builds customer confidence in you.
  3. Service Writer Tools: Do they have the proper tools? Three tools to consider are:
    • Checklist. Design checklists by make and model so that service advisors don’t miss a thing.
    • Mobile App. The use of Mobile Apps allows you to check in customers quickly, efficiently and sign to approve the work.
    • Service CRM product. A Service CRM tool can allow you to send follow-up communications for current or future work and communication automatically through email or text.
  4. Service Writer Pay Plan:  Even though it is their job, very few service writers make a conscious effort to sell parts unless their pay plan is affected by specifically includes it. Track their performance like any salesperson and provide them with incentives for selling.
  5.  Shop Supplies: Do your techs have a limitless supply of nuts, bolts, cotter pins, fluids, oils and greases in their bays that you simply recoup by charging “shop supplies?” When practical, you should be charging the proper part numbers to the repair order. This helps with inventory levels as well as documenting to the customer everything that went onto their unit and that you are getting paid for it.
  6.  Technicians:  Are your technicians roaming through the parts department pulling the parts that they need? Those technicians should stay in their bays where they make you and themselves money. All parts requests should be handled by the parts department or by a parts liaison to ensure that they get sold properly to the job.
  7.  Warranty Processing: Too often, I see money left on the table because warranties are not processed in a timely manner or refiled. Again, the shark of time (i.e.: I’m too busy!) is swimming around your shop. File warranty work on time! IF the OEM denies it or some part of it, refile and fight for your money. As you become more familiar with the OEMs’ expectations on warranty items, you will find more claims approved and money back in your bank!

So, the next time you hear; “fishy, fishy come out and play,” you know it wants to eat your time or your profits or both! Don’t take your eyes off the shark, stay calm, keep swimming, and you’ll avoid be caught, letting your team focus on what matters most, maximizing its time to boost your profits.

Lightspeed is the #1 Dealer Management Solution used within the Recreation industry for a good reason. We provide a completely integrated solution for dealers, OEMs and their customers. Our goal is to help you operate your business more efficiently and profitably so you can spend more time doing what you love.

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