Monday, October 17, 2011

Service Lane Healthcare – Taking the “VITALS”

Every single time you go to the Doctor’s office, it happens.

They take your “vitals”

They check your pulse, your temperature, your blood pressure and they weigh you.

Your vitals are an indication of how your body is doing “health-wise”.

If any of the “vitals” are outside of the normal parameters, it may be an indication that your body is not as healthy as it could be.

AND….if your body is not as healthy as it could be, the Doctor then diagnoses and prescribes a process to get your body better!

So when a Service Advisor does a multi-point inspection of a vehicle that comes into the service lane, aren’t we getting that vehicle’s “vitals”??

All too often a Service Advisor misses the chance to build trust and rapport with the customer by NOT doing a complete walk-around of the vehicle and taking its vitals!

So let’s get the customer involved in taking the “vitals” of their vehicle so that the customer can understand what is going on with the health of the vehicle.

This entire process, if done correctly, will only take a grand total of 4 minutes!

Start off by having the customer step outside of the vehicle and move to the front of the vehicle. The Service Advisor then gets inside of the vehicle. Explain to the customer you would like them to check ALL of the lights on the vehicle, starting in the front. Then have the customer check their own, headlights, high and low beams, the signal lights and the emergency flashers.

Then have the customer step to the rear of the vehicle and have them check their own brake lights, tail lights, signal lights, the back up lights and emergency flashers.

AND….. beep the horn to make sure it is working correctly!

Get the customer interactive in checking both the tire tread depth and tire pressure of their vehicle. Explain to the customer that a “new“ tire has 10/32’ of tread depth. Let the customer measure the tread depth and the air pressure of their own vehicle!

Show the customer that their tires are either “wearing” perfectly or they are wearing unevenly. Explain to them that at 2/32’ the tire is “legally” worn-out.

Explain to the customer that properly inflated air pressure in a tire is the BEST way to avoid an accident and is best for the longevity of their tires.

Now let’s move under the hood.

Get the customer involved in checking the strength of the battery. With a good battery tester, you can show the customer right then and there how well their battery is performing. You can show the customer how much “life” the battery has or the possibility that it may need replacing.

Check ALL of the fluid levels of the vehicle. Show the customer where ALL of the different “dip-sticks” are. Make sure you get the customer involved in looking at these fluid levels.

Top off the windshield washer fluid while you have the hood open! It takes but a few seconds!

Then walk around the vehicle with the customer to note any existing damage that may be on the vehicle.

You now have taken the “vitals” of the vehicle in the service lane!

Are any of these vitals outside the normal parameters?

It may be an indication that the vehicle is not as healthy as it should be!

And if the vehicle is not as healthy as it should be, aren’t you the “Doctor”??...... And aren’t you going to diagnose and prescribe a process to get the vehicle better??

The customer has seen with their own eyes that they might have a light out on the vehicle.

They have measured the tire tread depth and air pressure themselves so that they know that the tires may be wearing unevenly, so they may need an “alignment” or possibly new tires.

They have watched you perform a battery check so they know that with a new season coming; they may need a new battery.

They have watched you check all of the fluid levels so that they have piece of mind that these levels are correct.

By taking the 4 minutes to go through the vehicles “vitals” with your customer, it will give the customer confidence that you are going to correctly go through the rest of the vehicle and prescribe the proper diagnosis for the vehicles ills.

This process delivers open and transparent measurements so that you instantly build value, rapport and trust.

AND…..what if the vehicles “vital” are perfect?

Well…..we ALL like to have good news when we go to the Doctor!!!!

About the Author: From a Salesperson to a Dealer, I have a vast amount of experience in all areas of the automotive environment.

You can follow me on:

My website:  

Twitter: @jimkristoff

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Armed with ALL the knowledge; customers are still SCARED!

Today’s customers have access to an abundance of knowledge.

They can get on their computer or smart phone and see what the cost of a New Vehicle is.

They can appraise their own trade.

They can see what the lowest interest rates are.

They can do side by side comparisons with vehicles they are looking at.

They can check for the vehicles safety and reliability.

They can check how much insurance costs will be.

They can pretty much check on ANYTHING and EVERYTHING about the transaction!

Customers CAN, and in most cases DO, come armed with a LOT of knowledge before they enter the showroom floor.

BUT………they are still scared!

What are they scared of?

They are scared that they will still pay too much for the vehicle, not get enough for their trade, pay too high a payment, pay too high of an interest rate and most of all…….they are scared that they bought the wrong vehicle!

You see, even armed with ALL of the knowledge, there will always be some doubt by the customer that they are making the correct decision.

THIS is where YOU, the Sales Professional, can make a difference!

As a Sales Professional, you have to sell the product, the Dealership and YOU!!!!

“YOU”, make the difference in the sales transaction!!

Customers want to deal with someone that is knowledgeable, professional, and courteous…… and most of all……LIKEABLE!!!

So how do you get to become, “likeable”??

The formula is rather simple.


Ask questions…….

That’s it……ask questions…and a lot of them!

LISTENING to the customer!!!!

You see the art of building rapport and knowing what a customer REALLY wants is the key to closing more deals!

The best closers do one thing better than everyone else! They ask the MOST questions.

When you ask questions, you get a better perspective of what the customer’s wants and needs are.

You get a better perspective of how they are going to use the vehicle.

You get a better perspective of what they “have to have’ and what they would “like to have”.

You get a better perspective of the information that the customer already has.

This is where, “YOU”, can make the difference!

YOU have to have extensive product knowledge of not just your own product, but the competitions product.

YOU have to have the ability to sell the advantages of your product over the competition.

YOU have to be able to know all of the 3rd party websites that are giving these customers their information! Websites such as, Edmunds, Truecar, NADA, KBB, NHTSA, IIHS, Consumer Reports, TheCarConnection, CarData, CarInfo, DealerNet…..the list goes on and on…..

YOU have to have the confidence and conviction of knowing HOW to overcome your customer’s objections with the correct knowledge and information to help them make the correct decision.

YOU can give the customer confidence that they are making the correct decision by purchasing your product!!!

The NUMBER ONE complaint of all customers in regards to the Sales experience is;

“The Salesperson wasted my time!”

The reason the customer feels that the Salesperson wasted their time was that the Salesperson didn’t listen to the customers wants and needs.

The Salesperson didn’t know their product.

The Salesperson didn’t give a good demonstration.

The Salesperson was not trustworthy.

As a Sales Professional, you have to make the customer feel comfortable and confident about their purchase!

The ONLY way you can make the customer feel this way is by becoming the very best at what you do!

Product knowledge, competitions products, comparisons, selling your products advantages, demonstrating, building value, practicing, drilling rehearsing….and……asking a LOT of questions!

Customers are armed with a lot of knowledge, yet they are still scared!

YOU can make the difference by putting all of the customer’s fears aside and making sure you give them the most professional presentation they will ever see!

If “YOU” can put the customers fears aside…..YOU will make the sale!!!

About the Author: From a Salesperson to a Dealer, I have a vast amount of experience in all areas of the automotive environment.

You can follow me on:

My website:  

Twitter: @jimkristoff

Monday, October 10, 2011

Your own employees hate you!!!!

I know…….it’s a pretty strong title for an article.

BUT….it’s true…..

It pertains to a vast majority of car dealerships around the country!

Your own employees MUST hate doing business with you!

They take their own personal vehicles and get oil changes, tires, tire rotations, alignments, batteries and wiper blades at other places!

You have made it inconvenient for them to service with you. You don’t seem to value their business and your prices are too high!

They purchase New and pre-owned vehicles from other dealerships!

They feel unappreciated and they are scared to go through the “sales process” with your sales team!

Your own employees don’t feel comfortable doing business with your own dealership!


This scenario plays out at a LOT of dealerships across the Country!

Employees won’t or don’t do business with you!

The accounting office doesn’t trust the sales department. The sales department thinks the service department charges too much for service. The service department thinks that the sales department wants too much for the vehicles.

It goes on and on and on and on………does it sound like YOUR store???

You need to be a true leader and make sure your employees see AND feel the value you are giving them to do business with you!


After all, they are the ones taking care of your customers!

You have to make sure that you have a clear cut set of policies that are transparent to all your employees in regards to doing business with your own dealership!

Don’t just proclaim you have “employee pricing”! Make sure that you give your employees that “little extra” to make them feel good about doing business with their own place of work.

Are you willing to extend your “employee pricing” to your employees immediate family?

Are you willing to give your employees “special incentives” to pass along to their friends in order to get their business?

Do you, as a leader, convey these policies on a regular basis with ALL EMPLOYEES?

You HAVE to make your employee your BIGGEST ADVOCATE for doing business in your store!!

After all…..if your own employees won’t do business with you…..who will???

It takes a true leader with great communication skills to make sure that ALL EMPLOYEES feel special!

And when the employees feel special, your customers will feel special too!!!

About the Author: From a Salesperson to a Dealer, I have a vast amount of experience in all areas of the automotive environment.

You can follow me on:

My website:  

Twitter: @jimkristoff

Monday, October 3, 2011

Customers “wear” their vehicle!

Have you ever noticed that the type of vehicle that a person buys reflects their character or lifestyle?

People buy certain vehicles for a reason!

People buy pickup trucks for work or play….and maybe a little of both!

People buy minivans mostly because they have children.

People buy sports cars mostly because they like the image it portrays.

People buy high-line luxury vehicles for a status symbol.

People buy “green” vehicles mostly because they are concerned for the environment.

In ALL cases, people simply “wear” their vehicle. Their vehicle is an extension of themselves.

Like the clothes you wear, a vehicle becomes that new suit or that beautiful new dress. Maybe the vehicle becomes that sporty jacket you just bought or maybe the vehicle is that pair of sweat pants you just bought to run around and do errands with!

So if customers “wear” their vehicle, they also accessorize what they wear.

Customers will buy an incredible amount of accessories for their vehicle; just like they buy a new tie to go with the suit or a sparkling piece of jewelry to go with the new dress.

We all need to find every single opportunity to maximize our profits and give the customer a reason to be loyal to the dealership!

By making your store a “one-stop” shopping experience for those people that would like to accessorize their vehicle, you create one more reason for customers to frequent your dealership!

·        Are YOU as a dealer getting your fair share of accessory sales?

·        Are you even offering the customer accessory options?

·        Are you pricing the accessories to make it attractive for the customer to purchase from you?

·        Is your sales team involved in presenting these options?

·        Do you have 10-15% of your “in-stock” vehicles equipped with these accessories so that the customer can see them?

·        Do you have a dedicated area of the dealership to highlight accessories?

I encourage all of you to go to the SEMA show in Las Vegas!

SEMA is short for Specialty Equipment Market Association, which was formed in 1963. The SEMA Show is the most excellent trade event for automotive specialty products in the world. It is consists of 6,764 companies worldwide and products in this $27.8 billion-a-year industry. 

The first time I went to SEMA, I spent 2 entire days and STILL did not see the entire exhibit! It covers every square inch of the Las Vegas convention center!

Maximize your profit by checking out this show!

It is WELL worth your time!

About the Author: From a Salesperson to a Dealer, I have a vast amount of experience in all areas of the automotive environment.

You can follow me on:

My website:  

Twitter: @jimkristoff