Longtime Applewood Chev GM Lee Wittick was looking for a way to encourage his techs to sell more items – air filters, wiper blades, cabin filters.
Why the techs? He reasoned that if a service advisor looks at the service record of a customer’s car and says it’s time for, say, the cabin filter to be replaced, the customer’s response would probably be negative. But if the service advisor says the tech has checked it and it needs replacing. That carries weight.
Problem is that techs don’t get paid much for checking and installing items like these. So encouraging them to do work they get little or nothing for is like plowing the sea, some would say.
But Wittick had an idea. Why not entice them with a frequent-flyer type program? In other words, the tech gets points for wiper blades checked and replaced, points used to buy useful items like vacuum cleaners, lawn tractors, luggage.
“It’s just using unused time techs have lots of during the day,” he says.
So he took his idea to Farid Ahmad, president of DealerBucks and DealerBucks was born.
“The system is based on the WIFM principle,” Ahmad says. “In other words, ‘What’s in it for me?’ We create a good reason for the tech to look for that work.”
Ahmad explains that in return for checking and recommending certain items, techs get points – Wittick dubbed them AppleBucks – if the customer elects to have the work done. Techs can cash them in only at the dealership
Ahmad says the system comes with a website where participating techs can check their point totals and see how their scores shape up against their colleagues.
All the calculations, tracking and premium display are done online so there’s no paperwork.
“The dealer gets more business they wouldn’t normally because there’s no labour charge, he says. And because there’s no labour charge, it’s easy to sell to the customer.
It’s been six months since the system went in at Mississauga, Ont. dealership.
He says monthly tracking of the seven line items the dealership chose shows sales have improved: air filter installs, for example, went up on average to 134 in the first 90 days from a monthly average of 47 in the 90 period prior to the program’s start.
“It’s not massive, but it picks up those dollars here and there,” he says.
But Wittick notes they’ve put some teeth into the program.
“We want to reduce comebacks, so under the program, if the tech doesn’t do a thorough, professional job, if there’s a comeback, they lose points. There’s accountability.”
Techs also get points for perfect CSI scores.
Paolo Glorioso has been Applewood’s service manager for seven years. He says the store’s 30 techs were wary when the system started, but they’ve bought into it. It helps, he says, because he spent years working as a tech himself and knows how his staffers think.
“Once they got enough points to get something, others see how easy it is.”
Glorioso says it also helps that there are no long waits for winnings to arrive premiums.
For more information, Farid Ahmad, president DealerBucks, 416-364-3025 or [email protected]