Susan works with business owners to solve problems and increase success on their terms.
Solve Your ProblemMike’s automotive services business suffered a significant drop in revenue every winter. From December – March, revenue was about 65% of capacity. Mike never laid anyone off, and there wasn’t any way to reduce capacity and fixed costs, so the winter revenue drought also depressed profit. Mike explained that even his best customers tended to put car maintenance off during the months when there was the possibility of bad weather. The average number of routine service visits per year was 3. We brainstormed for ideas that would increase that average to 4 and bring people in during the winter. This is a typical Refresh effort. Mike had a straightforward issue with a clear goal.
Our solution had three parts:
- Improving the quality of the service writer. We agreed to implement two new ideas. Both of them would require a service writer with strong customer service and communication skills. For years Mike had undervalued this position. As we visualized the success of these two initiatives, it became clear that a better service writer was needed. Mike finally agreed to look for someone who fit the bill. That someone was a disabled veteran who had years of experience with vehicle maintenance and wanted a job very much.
- Outbooking. This is when a service rep asks the customer to book the next appointment at the conclusion of the current appointment. More than 80% of out booked appointments are kept. Without making a big deal about the timing, the wonderful new service writer began asking his customers to book 3-4 months in advance, and promised to remind them as the time got closer and to reschedule if they found they could not make it.
- Storm-related specials. Whenever a snow or ice storm was forecast, Mike would email his customers and invite them to bring their cars in before the storm. There were only 10 slots. They would get the maintenance service they needed, their cars would be safely stored in the garage, and they could pick them up right after the storm.
ResultsWithin two months, the outbookings were a normal part of every customer’s check out. When the first winter storm was forecast, Mike emailed his customers and filled the ten slots in 30 minutes. The first winter there were 7 storms specials and 70 cars serviced. The three solutions brought utilization up to 85% from December to March. In addition, the new service writer changed all customers experiences in positive ways and changed Mike’s life. His customers liked the service writer so much that they stopped calling Mike. He had much more time to travel to see his grandchildren, one of the goals he had put on hold while he was suffering the low winter revenue. Except for the additional compensation for the higher-skilled service writer, there were no additional cost to gain new revenue. When you have a specific problem in need of resolving or an irritant that needs relief, we can work together to create the solution. The goals are always to keep the costs down, leverage existing capacity, products, services and customers, and achieve no less than a 10% increase in revenue and profits. Mike’s revenue increased 38% and profit increased 27%.