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Jason Unrau

Jason Unrau Freelance Contributor

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What’s the Excuse This Month?

Dealership service departments slow down during the summer months. Kids are out of school. Summer holidays happen. Overall, there’s just a sense of relaxation as people enjoy the weather, a break from the norm, and hey – even dealership personnel are entitled to some time off too.

But September is right around the corner. It’s back-to-school time. Everyone’s just settling back into their routines. Credit cards are recovering from a harrowing onslaught of summer activity charges. October is when things really get into the swing of things.

Then October rolls around. Seasons change to crispy fall weather and there’s Halloween.

November has the whole Thanksgiving weekend.

Then Christmas takes over December.

We All Have Our Excuses

There’s something every month, and what follows it up? An excuse. There’s always an excuse for why things are like they are in the service department. There’s a holiday or someone’s away on vacation. It’s school summer break or it’s too cold outside. And they truly play a role in how the service department operates. Yet, they are all just excuses.

I’ve used each one of the excuses I’ve mentioned, most of them truthfully. It’s easy to justify why the department’s performance isn’t growing or isn’t achieving quite as much as it could – or it could be about my personal performance too.

There’s a crude phrase about excuses that rings true here…

“Excuses are like… ahem… rear ends. Everyone has one and they all stink.”

Excuses aren’t any good to anyone. What they do is attempt to deflect responsibility away from the individual or department. But if you have an excuse, there’s a very good chance your inner lawyer is at work, helping you justify your position. And if your inner lawyer is at work, you probably should be doing something differently.

When’s the Right Time to Step It Up?

There’s no time like the present. You’ve missed enough opportunities already.

Here’s the thing about the summer excuse – and I know, we’ve been ragging on summer a bunch. Summer offers excellent opportunities if you gear your service department toward the right target. Emphasize air conditioning services and subsequent repairs. Encourage pre-trip inspections and subsequent repairs. Intentionally book service appointments spread across slower weeks, then implement accessory spiffs for your service staff.

Looking forward, make the fall months about routine maintenance and vehicle safety. If you have snowy months in your climate, take on a winter tire drive or alignment specials.

In the spring, get back to suspension work and vehicle detailing packages. And when summer rolls around next year, start it all over again.

Whether your service department naturally slows down in certain periods of the year or not, there’s literally no good reason to let off the gas as a department. You have customers out there that need the products and services you have. Your dealer principal expects your hard work every day. No excuse changes their expectations. But here’s what you can do instead of making excuses.

  1. Turn excuses into challenges. If the service department normally has a slow couple of weeks once school lets out (or in), make it your goal to buck that trend. Here’s where intentional scheduling really comes into play.
  2. Make service ads fresh for every season or month. It’s super important to keep your ads catchy and fresh so they don’t become old hat to old clients and potential customers.
  3. Have a plan for slow times. Have your BDC or service staff call customers with declined services or missed appointments. Forge forward to catch up with outstanding recall notices.

There’s always an excuse you could use. If you’re looking not just to make a paycheck but to either make a difference or get noticed for a promotion, ditch the excuses and look for solutions instead.

Amanda Gordon

We have a sign in my house right over the front door that says "TODAY I WILL NOT MAKE OR TAKE ANY EXCUSES." It keeps my family aligned with pushing thru and always giving it all you've got, and having expectations for those around you as well. 

Bryan Armstrong

It takes little time to look at a situation with an eye for opportunity vs. calamity. 


Jason Unrau

Amanda, that's a great daily motivator! And Bryan, I second that viewpoint!

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