As an automotive dealership, every department should be going after the same goal, but often it is as if we are each on our own island separated by a sea of processes and office politics. We rarely interact with one another—unless there is a crisis. We don’t practice departmental inter-connectivity within dealerships and because of this, we miss out on the positive potential of having a symbiotic relationship.
Even Google has recognized this fragmentation to the point that each department has its own Google Business Profile with separate information relevant to that specific part of the business. When we have different processes, different hours, and different influences an obvious disconnect happens.
In the current landscape we are seeing a decrease in RO’s at the same time we are witnessing an increase in the mean year. This, coupled with inventory and pipeline concerns, creates an environment where one of the biggest issues we are facing is vehicle acquisitions.
As the front of the house scrambles for inventory shouldn’t we be mining the service department? Shouldn’t we be looking there for more opportunities to purchase from a customer base that already trusts and interacts with us on a daily basis? The answer is yes. At this point—two years into the pandemic—we should have a service acquisitions system dialed in.
Yet, is it even being done? Do you have a robust service to sales vehicle acquisition process in place? If the answer to that question is no—why not?
Another example of the disconnect between departments is Parts. Everyone has heard of digital retail by now. Vendors are cropping up left and right promising the next best iteration capable of competing with the Carvanas and the Vrooms. So, we are trying to sell a $50,000-$100,000 vehicle digitally, but we haven’t figured out how to sell a $20 part online? Why don’t we focus some of our incredible dealership ingenuity on creating an SRP for our Parts Department? What other digital platforms could we be utilizing for fixed ops?
Again, we are considered to be separate businesses in one building. We all have the overall objective of doing business together, but at the end of the day, can we truly say we are cohesive?
Currently, we are all high-fiving each other for the record profits, but the reality is we just got lucky.
If the right hand doesn’t fully comprehend what the left hand is doing then how much did we leave on the table?
Lack of functional communication is costing you more money than you realize.
We wrote an article about the CRM disconnect between the Sales and BDC departments. What about the day-to-day across the house? Does everyone know what’s going on? Is your BDC present in sales meetings? Do parts, service, or finance have a representative at these meetings? Is Sales and BDC present for Parts and Service meetings? Do we have all the information available to us to make educated, robust, aggressive decisions that truly bring intentional profits to our dealerships?
The BDC is where the majority of customers first interact with your dealership, so why are they not present at meetings?
Does the sales floor know what the sales marketing pitch for the month is?
Does the sales floor know what the service marketing pitch is?
Does Service know when sales are offering $xx extra for a trade-in? How about Parts?
How often do you get calls from customers who know more about the incentives than your staff does?
We over-communicate with customers and under-communicate with our own dealership. As a Service Manager, I often experienced the frustration of watching the Sales Department sign up for pitches that included discounts I was not informed of or involved in.
Not only do we need to work on training and CRM use on the sales floor, but we must be connecting with one another. Not communicating what is going on everywhere—by signing up for all the shiny objects without informing everyone—is unacceptable.
All department heads—Service, Sales, Parts, BDC, Finance, etc—need to be talking about strategy on a monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis. They need to have the opportunity to gather, speak and disseminate information. There is no excuse for anyone not knowing what is going on.
Here’s the test:
Stop an employee cold, and ask them what the marketing message is for the month. Do they know what the parts specials are? Do they know if you have an aged-unit special?
We need to communicate and not treat each other like separate islands but as a fully interconnected chain working together for the success of the whole. The last two years have shown us where our greatest weaknesses are now it’s our responsibility to address them.
Herb Anderson / Charity Ann