ORLANDO, Fla.Content employees will work hard for the success of the business.
So treating technicians as professionals and fostering a bond among shop employees are keys to increasing profits for a dealership, according to Pam Oakes, owner of Pam's Motor City Tire & Auto Center in Fort Myers, Fla.
Ms. Oakes discussed her strategies for success, based on her own experience, during the recent International Tire Exhibition & Conference (ITEC) in Orlando for tire dealers and auto service professionals. She has run a dealership for 20 years with techs who have worked for her for more than a decade. The business is doing well because, she said, her staff interacts with each other and she treats them like professionals.
The whole dynamic of a shop is important and that's what's going to make you top dollar right there, those dynamics, she said.
The majority of shops don't understand this dynamic and they don't treat the techs (very well). So you need to have word-of-mouth about what a great place it is to work at your shop.
Having a good reputation will attract well-qualified techs and service writers who are vital to improving profits, she said, stressing that dealers should hire ASE-certified technicians.
You want that professional tech to be in your shop, she said, noting that there is a trade-off. You need to treat them like a professional and not a number. If you start treating them like a number, they're not going to do anything for you. You need to give them professional courtesies.
Such courtesies include encouraging them to buy tools, allowing an hour for lunch and providing a lunch room where employees can congregate and bond.
Camaraderie in the shop is extremely important to make it function properly, she said.
A bond between the techs and service writer is particularly important so they can communicate effectively with each other about service jobs and parts needs.
Service writers have to deal with both the customers and the techs. They're the liaison, Ms. Oakes said. They're the middle guy. So you really, really have to pick the proper service writer to do this. You have to have the right mindset.
She also encouraged dealerships to have a lube tech.
These guys are your bread and butter. These are the guys that you really, really want to pay attention to because they are going to be feeding your techs jobs, she said.
The lube tech should conduct a multi-point inspection of the vehicle and submit the results to the service writer before starting the oil change. Then the service writer can be discussing and selling needed services to the customer while the lube tech is changing the oil.
Ms. Oakes noted that in addition to encouraging camaraderie among employees, the shop owner should require that employeesand the shophave a neat appearance. Not only does that impress customers when they enter the dealership, it also makes employees feel proud of their workplace.
She also promoted the concept of community involvement as a way to boost a dealership's reputation and instill pride in the workplace.
You need to get involved in your community. Why? Because you are working on cars in your community. This is going to bring cars into your bays so you can have these qualified, well-trained, well-oiled group of people working on these cars.
It's very, very important to be active in your community. You want to show that you're active in your community because when those techs and service writers come in that door, they see on your wall what's going on.
She encouraged shop owners to hang certificates and awards for community servicepresented to the shop and to individual employeeson a showroom wall.
You want that bond between the guys and girls in the shop. You want that bond between the shop and the community, she said.
To reach this reporter: [email protected]; 330-865-6127. Twitter: @kmccarr.