Shop Life Columnists

Don't Build Robots

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In this industry, we know that sales are the key to success or failure of a shop. You make pennies of profit from just a “simple oil change.” No owner goes to business to make a dollar a day. You would not have money for improvements and maintenance. 

In order to profitably run your business, you are going to need someone who can bring those add on items to your invoices. There will be many managers that will just throw up a new hire to see what they can do, hoping that the dart will hit the bullseye. There will be some organizations that will put sales quotas in place to retain employment, but this will only lead to pressure and upset customers. If you want to be the best long term, you will need to find a way to identify and train exceptional customer service advisors.

 

Building Blocks of Sales

Step one is to build a proper training procedure that works for your business. You can simply start with a piece of paper and a pen, writing out what your expectations are for the job. Things that you need to answer could be what you want your CSA to wear, how they will speak to customers and when, what KPIs (key performance indicators) you will track, and possibly how to reward high performing employees. 

How and what you decide to do is just the start. The next step is sometimes harder, as you put your plan into action. I will put pen to paper myself and show you a few steps that I might take in order to put together an effective training program.

Step one for me is probably a little out of sorts for some. Most will try to put a program in place and train off those teachings, hoping to hit a home run on a tech or two. I believe that identifying the right person or persons for the job is key. You cannot train attitude and want. You can try and train sales skills, but that is not easy in most cases. 

I would identify my trainee with a few small needs, such as drive, pride in appearance, competitiveness and most importantly, the gift of gab. If they cannot talk to people now, then they will never be successful in your role. Look for clean cut, happy and neat employees that generally do not stop talking. That is your CSA trainee!

You now have a team of talkers, aka non-robots, but you have no way to get them talking about what you want them to talk about. Putting together a training program is the next and most important step.

 

Training Time

Many of you are a part of franchise groups that have some sort of computer-based training or material. Use these to your advantage. If you do not have formal guides, search online and with vendors. Many parts stores have training such as these. 

Speaking of vendors, reach out and request some classroom training. I have sat in Pennzoil and Valvoline oil training sessions, additive training classes and even filter training with suppliers. Once you think that you know is all, the industry changes. Put together a training track that works for you.

We are almost there! You have found a role for all those jabbermouths, sat them in some meetings and in front of a computer, so they’re ready to go. 

But wait—there’s more! For them to be properly trained in what you want them to do, you need to do the one step that was missing before you started this process, the role play. Do not revert to the past. 

Listen to them speak with your customers and provide feedback, positive and negative. Let them listen to you and pull from your knowledge. Do not build a robot! Allow them to use their personality by talking about sports teams, local events and conversation topics brought up by the customer. This is a tactic that is learned to ease a customer or generate a connection. Also, watch their body language, as a stiff delivery can be a negative.

Finally, you have the makings of a successful CSA. Build from this and recreate the process. Look for new hires with the right personalities, looks and more. As you start to grow a network of consistent customer representatives, look at a rewards program to retain your hard work. 

This can be bonus programs or employee incentives, whatever your company decides is the right direction. So, look at your shop and your teams, take out a piece of paper and a pen and get started on the road to change!

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