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Richard Holland

Richard Holland Managing Director

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Fix the Affliction

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The adage “two brains are better than one” has long been used to think through matters and solve problems.  And to take it even further, excluding the human element, often two computers with different programming can solve problems more effectively than a single device.

As an example; the government has admitted to a problem with the security lines at airports. They’ve taken steps to attempt to fix the issue.  But, not even all the brains at the TSA can develop a logical way to speed up the lines at the security checkpoint. They’ve been trying, and haven’t yet admitted defeat, but the problem isn’t going away. According to an article on Entrepreneur.com, the government has offered a reward of up to $15,000 for ideas generated to help make the process of going through security more efficient. 

Imagine a similar situation that happens all the time in our service departments. There are cars parked in lines, waiting to move forward so the service advisor can make note of the customer arrival, review the service work to be performed, and take the keys from the customer.  The cars slowly inch forward and more vehicles pull in the lot, taking their place behind the last vehicle.  It’s an unending line of customers that want to do business with you, yet the longer the customers wait in their vehicle, the less patient they become.  When they finally are serviced, you wonder if their extended wait time will impact the customer service survey they will receive.  You’re thankful for your customers’ loyalty, as they return time and again, despite the repetitious cycle of extended wait times. Your dealership’s service manager and advisors are ready to throw their hands in the air. They are willing to try anything that may simplify, speed up and make the service department more efficient.

Perhaps you’ve tried polling all your employees, from advisors to technicians, and some have come up with ideas on how to streamline the check-in process.  You’ve debated about hiring additional staff; however, you’ve determined the extended lines aren’t always out of control. You already know that your facility has its physical limitations and the dealership is unable to expand the service lanes. New technology has been incorporated, such as specialized mobile devices, tablets and apps, to make all phases of your service process as modernized as possible.  Yet, the dilemma of long lines and extended waits still plague your dealership.

Taking a cue from the TSA, one thought may be to offer rewards for ideas from your customers.  We only see the surface of what needs to take place as we pass through security, there’s obviously more to it than meets the eye.  Likewise, while most customers won’t understand what is required to check-in a vehicle or expedite it to the proper technician, it can still help to get some external ideas, a fresh perspective on the matter.  Your dealership certainly doesn’t need to break the bank with financial rewards.   Giving away discounted service or free basic services such as an oil change may be enough.  Simply recognizing the best suggestions and integrating ideas provided by your customers could be sufficient.

Letting your customers know that you are seeking to improve processes so as to improve their service experience isn’t an admission of failure.  If the leaders of your organization and management team can’t develop sufficient ideas, why not offer a contest to your customers?  Use social media to spread the word about your contest. Put a banner in the service aisle, and instruct your staff to talk about it. Let the brainstorming begin!  The mere attempt at improving the experience for your customers will be noticed and appreciated. Perhaps the solution is so simple that you wonder why no one ever thought of it before.  Or, perhaps putting two heads together will form an idea that not even the government could think of. 

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