When I talk with Dealers, Dealer Groups or Manufacturers at senior management level, there seems to be a feeling that the people at the front of the aftersales department are the people who are the bottleneck for business development – they often feel that these are the people who are under-performing.

Even, in some cases, questioning whether the profile of aftersales front-line staff measure up to the modern demands of the job.

The reality is that most service advisers are genuinely very good at what they do, and in my experience, their attitude (for the most part) is excellent.

Over the last four years I have had the privilege of working with nearly 2,500 Service Advisors on Workshops and Coaching Programmes, and I find that it isn’t through any real lack of will or desire, but more that they work in an environment where they rarely get explicit positive feedback for anything that they do, and it is this which creates an atmosphere of low morale and in many cases poor performance.

Therefore, in my opinion, it is more a case of the business not getting the best out of their people, rather than the people not wanting to perform.

So, the first challenge is to question the mind-set of Dealer Management, and look at how they can achieve better results from what they see as the under-performance of their front-line teams.

WellDoneLabelWhat Alex said …

Alex Ferguson (former Manager of Manchester United Football Club who dominated English football under his leadership) shared his management philosophy with students at Harvard Business School. One of the points he made stood out for me, because it validated something I have been advocating for years with Management Teams I have helped develop and it was this; “Two words that all players like to hear – in fact, all human beings like to hear, is – ‘Well Done’!”

As I say, this validates something I’ve been working hard on with my own clients over the years.

Managers should be constantly looking to catch people doing things right.

Too often, Managers spend their time looking for things that are going wrong and trying to fix them. But when you look at the success  Alex Ferguson had with his players over 20 odd years, it’s difficult to argue with his assertion ion that the best way to get the best out of people is to catch them doing things right and say, “Well Done!” rather than look for the negatives and criticise.

Positive reinforcement

From a psychological point of view, this looking for good behaviour and recognising it is always the best way to get a repeat of the identified good behavior – technically known as positive reinforcement of acceptable behaviour.

So by going down the Alex Ferguson route of finding as many opportunities to say “Well Done!” as often as you can, you actually get people to repeat the behaviour you want.

It frustrates me when I sit and talk to managers and they say that people at the front desk aren’t doing a good job.

Under-performing people are usually doing the best job they can with the tools they have, in the environment they’re given.

It is important to remember, one of the key facets of being a Service Adviser is that customers see them as the first line communication with the dealership.

Customer Relations and Repeat Business

And remember, it is very rare that customers come in and start singing the praises of the business to the front-line staff; more often than not front-line teams generally only get feedback when customers have complaints and are upset.

Add to this they also get negatives from the Sales Department and the guys in the workshop when something has gone wrong.  It all adds up to the fact that there are not many areas where Service Advisors consistently get positive feedback on a job well done.

The aftersales front-line is the most important touch point with the customer for any car retailer. Think of it this way – when you buy a car, your relationship and communication with that business is through the Service Adviser.

The repeat purchase and the recommendation of that dealership to other people is often solely down to the relationship with the people on the front-line, so it’s important that you, and they, get it right.

Examine Your Technique

When I work with dealerships, either on coaching programmes, or full ‘turn-key’ Aftersales development programmes, one of the key things we look at is the communication process with the Service Advisers.

My advice, if they’re not performing well?  Be brave enough to examine your management technique and the environment you are creating, are you sincerely appreciating the positives in your team’s performance?

Take a long hard look at the whole culture of the department, have you created an environment where every member of the team can give their best.

  • Do they know what good performance looks like? (and I mean really know, specifically)

  • Is it clear what Service Excellence is in your business? (what are your specific operating standards)

  • Do you regularly and positively review the department performance with your team and make suggestions for improvement? (on a daily basis)

men happyConclusion

The reality for most people is they just need some simple direction; it helps if people explicitly understand what good behaviour looks like, and receive positive recognition for that behaviour on a frequent basis.

Positive re-inforcement of acceptable behaviour will have an amazing impact on the performance of the people in your team… give it a try!!

Remember, if I can help with anything please do let me know, and do leave a comment and share your views and opinions…

Good Luck and Good Selling!

Rob