Another year has come and gone. The industry has seen ebbs and flows in business, and the service lane remains the dealers highest earning asset. As the year does come to an end, there are five things to keep in mind (and consider) when planning for the next year. And if you are not planning for the next year then you are not only missing out but most likely always working on plan C or even D!
Here are the 5 things You Need to Review:
Staff/overhead the real cost of your employees
It is normal for your staff count to fluctuate throughout the year as there are times where you need the extra manpower to handle business. However, at the end of the day, every dollar counts. It is best to look through your expenses in the lane vs. the staff costs. If the ROI does not make sense on what the position is focused on, then it is either a) a personnel issue or b) an unnecessary position.
This does not mean that s/he is on the chopping block. It does suggest, however, that their position needs to be realigned with the current business needs. Remembering to show the employee that it is not a demotion or negative, but rather an opportunity to develop and improve. Creating a position that fluctuates with the business needs is crucial for a dealer to maintain a healthy profit.
Marketing Landscape - there’s more than what meets the eye
While 10B+ is spent in the Auto industry for SEO/SEM (paid search) what is spent on fixed-ops? The Service Lane marketing is just as important given it is an integral part of the overall ecosystem.
It will take some time - trust me - but it is best to review all of the campaigns you did per quarter. Evaluating the ROI on each campaign, which will assist you in structuring the years marketing tactics. And while it is not necessarily feasible to manage the marketing calendar in one or two days. It is feasible to work on the year in quarters - as one quarter comes to an end, you review the ups & downs, and work towards forecasting and marketing for the next quarter.
Even if your store is profitable - at the end of the day, people are human. Considering the hours, energy, and overall dedication they can burn out fairly quickly. To keep them at their optimal performance you have to work with them. Not over them, through them, around them - with them.
Whether it is something as simple as a offering them a long weekend here and there. Or giving the advisor an extra day off each quarter. Encouraging them to use it as a day for personal development (how do you handle personal days?). This will not only make sure that the service lane is covered at all times. But that everyone is working at their best.
Service Absorption Rate
If your absorption rate is under/below 85%, then there is room for improvement. The improvement will most likely come from a) restructuring staff or b) realigning advertising costs. Working to ensure that overlaps are at a minimal and that the campaigns that are running are offering a healthy ROI. As your service lane increases their absorption rate of the company's fixed expenses, it affords the dealer to invest, develop, and - most importantly - increase their bottom line.
Annual Data Cleanse
The dealer should cleanse the database, and understand how much raw data they truly have. When is the last time you did a data purge? That takes all “active/inactive” accounts and cleanse for emails, phone numbers, addresses, etc.? This will not only give you a better understanding of how many customers you actually have. But it will also help regarding your marketing efforts. It does no good to send an inactive customer email in whom you haven’t engaged with for 3+ years. Not only do you run the risk of hitting their junk folder. You also run the risk of getting blacklisted.
How do you prep for year-end? Do you include the department managers in the meetings? Have you tried planning marketing for the year?