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Dennis Galbraith

Dennis Galbraith Chief Marketing Officer

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The wall between fixed operations and sales needs to come down.

  • Franchised dealers must regain some of the accessory sales lost to online and offline competitors. That is not going to happen unless Parts, Service, and Sales all work to make it happen.
  • Regardless of what is done with social media, it is impossible to maximize customer relationships for loyalty and advocacy if the store is not uniformly committed to growing those customer relationships.  
  • Service revenue is lost every month when customers call in for service on the same tracking number they used when initially shopping for the car itself. Sales people don't get paid to answer service calls, and the way some of them handle those calls surely reflects it.
  • Most service managers don't get paid to teach people how to operate their vehicles. And it shows when customers call up complaining about their car not operating when the customer simply doesn't know how it is supposed to operate. Vehicle delivery is insufficient at thousands of stores. Of course, most sales people don't care about that. Their only worry is about the next sale, not the last one.
  • Occasionally, nasty comments are tossed back and forth over the variable-ops/fixed-ops wall, but most of the time these departments uttered their disdain for each other to the consumer.

When Ronald Reagan gave his famous speech at the Berlin Wall, telling Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall," it was not a new policy position. The five previous presidents had all wanted the same thing. In fact the wall did not come down for another 29 months, nearly one year after Reagan left office. Persuasion takes multiple efforts, even when it is clearly the right thing to do.

Many stores are changing their commission plans on accessories, splitting the gross profit equally between parts, service, and sales. Although there are plenty of success stories coming from the use of this approach, some stores baulk at the idea of taking such a big step right away. At a minimum, GMs can start by adding non-human touchpoints that introduce service to sales customers and sales to service customers. Here are a few product examples:

  1. AdVantage Tec, an Innovation Cup finalist at DSES, uses 15% of the TV screen in the waiting area for promotional messages, often promoting sales to waiting service companies.
  2. Dealer e-Process won the 2011 AWA Fixed Ops Technology Award for their service solutions on dealership websites. Many websites are virtually controlled by Sales and neglect service opportunities.

I'd love to hear what your store or product is doing to help tear down this wall. 

Mike Shockley
How about an aftermarket/customer relations person who gets paid by both sales, parts, and service. They answer to both sales and service managers. They are neutral, sell products, and schedule the install.
Dave Page
Dennis, Great post and I couldn't agree with you more. Thanks for the mention of our award at Dealer e Process. I invite all to learn more about this in February where I speak at the 2012 Digital Marketing Strategies Conference in Las Vegas February 1-3 2012. Fixed Ops Strategies, Engagement & Driving Fixed Ops Traffic. I have 16 years of real experience in the Fixed Ops space, so I can confirm and expand on this problem. The Fixed Ops space is truly challenged by technology at he moment (no difference) then sales was 7 years ago. Its going to take our SALES leaders in technology to bring Fixed Ops departments up to speed in all the areas sales is starting to excel in; CRM Process, PPC campaigns, pricing of services online, Google Place Pages, Reputation Management, Fixed Ops Websites, Mobile Apps, etc. If we don't do this soon, wave the white flag to Pep Boys, Jiffy Lube and the rest of our dealership competitors!
Jim Kristoff
Amen......You HAVE to build a culture within the store for this to happen!!
Dennis Galbraith
Mike, Your recommendation makes sense! I think the issues to work out are that it is a one-person solutions, causing a change in work flow if that person is out. Also, it can be tough to work for two managers at the same time. That said, I'll be there are more than a few stores that could figure out how to make this work and begin tearing down the wall even further. Dave and Jim, Thanks for contributing!
Steve Emery
How about using the Salesperson to remind the customer about their Service appointments?

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