Monthly Archives : November 2016

LIFT from CFS > 2016 > November

Anticipation Is Not What’s Making Them Wait – It’s Inefficiency!

The audience listens to the acting in a conference hall. Focus is under the man on the front ground

The audience listens to the acting in a conference hall. Focus is under the man on the front ground

Recently I’ve seen several blogs and articles about the customer experience and an article in Automotive News really caught my attention and sparked my interest. It is all about how seven minutes is far too long for a service customer to wait before they are even acknowledged.


Seven minutes doesn’t seem like a long time. But when you think about it from a customer’s perspective, standing there totally ignored while waiting to be assisted — those seven minutes could seem like forever!


According to the article, Lee Certilman, owner of Nardy Honda Smithtown in St James, N.Y., has a pet peeve: waiting in line. As he walked his service department, he noticed customers waiting to be helped by service advisors with no other customers in front of them. Turns out they were finishing up paperwork from the previous customer. Certilman noticed this several times and so felt he had to do something to handle the situation. He used his security cameras to gather information and discovered that this was not an anomaly. In fact he saw one customer waiting for seven long minutes, so he decided to come up with a remedy.

The dealership sells 3,000 units per year and enjoys a CSI score of 93 to 98 percent. The high volume and CSI scores show that the dealership is doing something right. As one of the top three Honda dealers in the district, Certilman is proud of his customer service. However, he realized something needed to change as it was obvious some customers were forced to wait too long and as a result were receiving a less than excellent experience.


But what could he do to illustrate to the service advisors, cashiers, and other front-line employees exactly how long seven minutes FEELS to a customer?

He had them sit in front of him, in silence, for seven minutes without speaking.

According to Certilman, it hit home for his service advisors.

Customer experience is about more than just providing great amenities. Don’t forget the importance of the human element. To today’s busy consumers, in many cases, amenities may actually be secondary to the service experience itself– the helpfulness, attentiveness and feeling of welcome they receive upon arrival. Today, speed and efficiency are vital to a good customer experience.

This high-volume dealer is very likely servicing more cars per month than he sells in a year. Consumers already think BUYING a car takes too long. How do you think they will feel if they find dropping their car off for service takes too long as well?

Many excellent technologies and services exist that can help improve the customer experience and expedite service lane efficiency. From scheduling, to the customer welcome, to the vehicle walk around and inspections, to customer interaction and presentation of recommendations, simple process analysis and change can make a huge difference.

All we’re talking about here is seven minutes. And that’s not even seven minutes to complete the transaction — but seven minutes waiting to be acknowledged. Ensuring that your service advisors quickly and efficiently acknowledge and welcome a customer can make a huge difference. It’s a simple thing to do and does not need some huge process change.

That Keurig. Those free pastries. That car wash. They mean nothing if the customer has to wait too long for their presence to be recognized.


Consider taking the time to analyze what’s going on in your service department. If it means sitting your advisors in front of you for seven minutes of silence in order for them to get it, that seven minutes could be worth more than any investment in a dealership movie theater, Starbucks, or other amenity.

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Maximizing your Conference ROI!

We’re well into conference season and some conferences can be quite overwhelming — Exhibit halls packed with hundreds of vendors all vying to talk to dealers and hundreds of speaking sessions to choose from. Conferences can also be a significant expense for a dealership, especially if multiple employees are sent. However, if planned well, conferences can prove to be extremely valuable and money well spent in keeping dealership staff up-to-date on cutting edge technology and new sales & marketing techniques.


Most conferences offer up a little bit of everything, so knowing how to get the most out of each conference is the key to getting the best bang for your buck. In that spirit, I’d like to offer up some tips:

  1. Do your Homework – Most conferences offer mobile apps and online interactive class schedules which you can use to organize schedules. Or, at the very least, the conference will offer an agenda which can be reviewed so you can map out sessions of particular interest or of need for the dealership. Don’t wait until you get to the conference or you’ll find yourself staring at the agenda every hour between sessions, trying desperately to identify where you want to go next. With a little advance planning, your day can go smoothly and will be more productive.
  1. Divide and Conquer –If you send multiple people it is wise to ensure that the attendees cover as much ground as possible. All too often, attendees from the same stores tend to stick together and attend the same sessions. However, you tend to get more bang for your buck if your staff has an organized schedule and attends different concurrent sessions in order to bring back as much knowledge as possible.
  1. Come Prepared – Wearing appropriate clothes isn’t about impressing other attendees. Many first-time conference goers tend to overdress for the occasion. In fact, most conference attendees dress in business casual attire, with some choosing to wear polo or button down shirts with their dealership logo. Comfortable shoes are a must as attendees will do a lot of walking to and from sessions and within the exhibit hall. In addition to dress, a preferred method to take notes is important – whether a laptop, tablet, or simply pen and paper… and be prepared to take a lot of them. It’s very easy to get overwhelmed by all of the information, and just as easy to forget it.
  1. Visit Your Vendors – One of the most invaluable and most overlooked practices is to simply visit all of the vendors in the exhibit hall that you already use. Often, your vendors do demos and announce new features or products that you may not be aware of. It’s not always easy for that sales rep who is juggling a bunch of accounts to reach out to everyone personally right away. Conferences are frequently where product launches happen. Simply visiting your vendors and asking them if there is anything new that you should know can put you ahead of the game.
  1. Visit the Other Vendors – I know that many attendees walk down the exhibit hall rows feeling surrounded by sharks. Trust me. They don’t bite. Those vendors that you aren’t familiar with could very well have new technology that can help your dealership be more productive or sell more cars. Getting to know the resources that are available to your dealership through vendors and any new technology, simply means that you’ll know your options when a solution is needed.
  2. Relax and Unwind – At the end of each day you may be presented with cocktail networking receptions and/or parties thrown by vendors. If you’re a social type and attend these, make sure to mingle and meet your fellow peers. Some of the best connections and friendships are made at conferences. And, having someone to bounce ideas off of throughout the year is invaluable. As for vendor parties, if you’re a dealer or dealership employee, you’re likely a shoo-in for a ticket — with one caveat – you need to find out early in the conference what parties are happening, who is throwing them and which you’d like to attend. Many parties have space limitations so if you wait until the day of the party to visit the vendor’s booth for a pass, you may find that they don’t have any left. Get the information and visit them early for your best chance at a pass.


When the conference ends you will very likely be somewhat brain dead! I am sure you will have a bunch of notes, a lot of new knowledge and action items to implement. Don’t be tempted to put them aside and get back to what you’ve been doing. If you do, you may find the next conference rolling around as you wonder what the ROI is as you still have a bunch of notes and action items that you have not yet done anything with from the last one.

Make a commitment to use the knowledge you’ve gained, share it with those at your dealership that couldn’t attend and make changes at your dealership based on what you learned. Only with positive change made through definitive action can a return on investment from a conference truly be realized. To your success!

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