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Service advisors are key to dealership profitability

Service advisors are key to dealership profitability but only if general managers adopt techniques which have been honed in the showroom, according to Karl Davis, managing director at Coachworks Consulting.

The consultancy, which has recently undertaken an extensive ‘business growth’ exercise visiting all dealerships in Vauxhall’s network, works with both manufacturers and retailers and is headed by Davis, himself a former retailer of some 12 years.

Davis will challenge traditional thinking by raising a host of provocative questions when he takes to the stage at AM’s Aftersales Conference at Crowne Plaza, Heythrop Park, Chipping Norton on April 8, 2014 when he talks about creating a ‘performance culture’ in aftersales.

Presenting the case for a more sales-orientated aftersales operation where departmental and individual targets are the norm and processes common in the showroom, such as second-facing, are introduced to both support service advisors in the task of up-selling and to close more deals, Davis identifies five key elements which, he argues, are critical to a successful transformation.

Davis said: “By far the biggest challenge is to transfer sales principles to aftersales even though they may operate extremely effectively in the showroom, it is not as simple as it sounds. It is not just a question of setting service advisors a sales target and leaving them to it, that’s a recipe for disaster. Managers and operatives need personal targets set against a real opportunity to do business, which first need to be fully appreciated and properly calculated.

“The industry has spent years fine-tuning the sales model to the point where it is now slick and customer-focused whilst still being results-driven. There are many times more transactions in aftersales compared to car sales and heads of businesses need to apply their sales ethos to reap the benefits but that takes time, effort and exceptional mentoring.

“It also needs a change of mindset. There are double standards which exist – when typically more than half the direct profit of a dealership is generated by aftersales but you will rarely find a top performing service advisor driving home in one of the business’ cars yet the lowest performing sales executive always has a car. Our working model, which is essentially the same as it was 20-odd years ago when sales did deliver the lion share of profits, needs a drastic overhaul if dealerships are to reach their full profit potential.”

The presentation will be very much a ‘how to’ rather than ‘should do’ approach with a number of ‘quick fixes’ such as asking customers to make a forward booking for their vehicle when the eVHC flags amber work.

Tickets are available to dealers and manufacturers, with a limited number of supplier tickets on sale. To book, please contact Nicola Baxter on 01733 468289, email or visit

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  • kevthebass - 18/03/2014 15:07

    Since when was the sales model "slick and customer focussed"? Would you say this about the banks? It's about getting the highest finance rate you can get away with, selling gap insurance and other financial products, and £600 for paint protection. In the customer's interest, really? There is little enough trust in the industry as it is. I'm all for capturing genuine sales by legitimate means, by forward booking etc. but putting unreasonable pressure on aftersales staff to up-sell (an £8k basic plus commission?) is risking crossing the fine line between "looking after the customer" and misselling. You'll upsell to a customer once, then never see them again, unlike new car sales, customers have almost unlimited (usually cheaper) alternatives to chose from. I do agree that aftersales staff rewards should relate to their contribution to dealer profitability, though with most DPs coming from a sales background I doubt that will happen anytime soon.