Process Equals Profit | Gerry Frank | November 2019
Gerry Frank shares his proven processes for managing service advisors and ultimately boosting gross profit.
Gerry Frank has been in the industry for over 30 years, and through those years has built proven processes and procedures that he has been able to bring to other shops through Repair Shop Coach.
One of Frank’s largest strengths is his ability to hire, train, and manage the employees in his shop. Frank sat down with MWACA Magazine to discuss his tips for identifying and managing strong service advisors.
What characteristics do you look for in a service advisor?
In the early days, I would hire on gut instinct, but sometimes your gut isn’t a really good indicator—I made so many hiring mistakes. Now, I look for if they are a winner. You pick up on that when you’ve interviewed enough people. Most successful service advisors have dominance, and are very decisive—they are going to win at all costs and aren’t timid.
One of the techniques I use to find a good service advisor came from a Chet Holmes book; I put that we were looking for a “superstar service advisor” in the job posting. When the potential candidate calls me, I ask what makes him or her a superstar, and I listen for somebody to sell me on themselves.
If they can’t sell to you, why should you hire them? They will never be able to sell to your customers.
How do you discuss the role and position expectations to a service advisor?
I’ve been in the business a long time, and have had a whole lot of employees come and go in my business in the last 30 years. Early on, so many would come and go or quit, and I really think the main reason that happened is because they had a lousy boss—that was me. I wasn’t happy with their performance and I did a bad job explaining exactly what I wanted from them, and then, of course, I wasn’t happy when they didn’t meet their expectations or my goals.
Now, I start with clarity, especially in the interview process. I’m really clear about what my expectations are. You can’t be hazy; there can’t be any grey area. I let them know what I expect of them in sales, what their average margins are, gross profit dollars, average repair order. They have to agree that they can obtain that. Saying, “yes, I can do that,” is really important, because if you don’t get the “yes,” you don’t get the buy-in. If there is a doubt in the way they say “yes,” they’re never going to be able to achieve their goals.
How do you hold your service advisors accountable for their work?
We’re a numbers-driven company; I think any successful business should be. Each employee has a “win” number—they know what a “win” looks like. We measure their performance each week, and that number is tracked and posted. So, if you are a technician, a service advisor, a customer service representative, apprentice technician, you know what a “win” looks like for you. You know when you go home on Friday if you got a “W” in your win column or not.
Before, I don’t think that was so clear. An employee would drive home, and maybe he or she worked hard, but when he or she left on Friday, it was unclear if the shop’s expectations were met or if he or she won.
Everybody wants to win.
The most important number for a service advisor is gross profit dollars. That’s what makes the business tick.
Are there other processes you put into place to ensure an advisor’s success?
Process equals profit. Things are either people-dependent or process-dependant. People come and go—my service advisor could up and quit next week and I would have to put another person in there. So, you see, it is really hard to rely on people—so if you have a proven process, it’s way better.
Look at McDonald’s. You could go anywhere in the country and eat a Big Mac and it would be exactly the same, because they have great processes.
You really want to work on the process.
At my shop, we use an eight-step sales process, just a laminated sheet. I sit and talk to the service advisor about it, so he knows that we are clear.
Do you have meetings with your service advisors, or how often you check-in with them?
Weekly, we go over the company report card as a shop, and those numbers are displayed where everyone can see them. The goals have to be present. I suggest doing it early in the week.
I go over those numbers in a team meeting and we review last week—you, as the shop owner, should hold that meeting and go over the numbers. We use the IDS process: identify, discuss and solve. We come up with a to-do list of what we are going to do this week to change those numbers for next week.
I set aside an hour per week to go over the individual phone calls with the service advisor, to make sure he is following the process. We sit down together and fill out a report card, a little score sheet. Did you build the relationship? Did you call the customer by their first name? Those key things, and we make sure they are getting done. It’s really uncomfortable at first when you bring an employee in because nobody likes the way their voice sounds, but there is no other way to hold them accountable.