An Example of Fixed Ops Performance Monitoring
We see three key benefits in approaching fixed ops management analytically. Firstly, we can track the appointment process and monitor the type of service coming in. Secondly, everyone wants to optimize spend on the repair order, however, the repair order context is complex and subtle analysis is needed in order to gauge issues service advisor and technician performance. Thirdly, retention should be a huge preoccupation for OEM dealers, in spite of this, how many of us have taken the time to view our business through the lens of retention and customer churn and win-back of lost souls.
Approaching fixed ops management analytically can have major benefits. One approach to building our performance monitoring application is to take the customer flow approach.
Understanding the customer flow model
A common approach to customer database management is the so called customer flow model. This approach has four basic stages:
- 1Inflow: Activities and events related to customer acquisition are part of the inflow phase. In a service sales context any interactions by your BDC, service requests or appointments and even walk-ins would be classified as inflow.
- 2Base Management: Transactions, engagements and interaction between you and established customers are classified as base management. If your service advisor manages to up-sell a customer or your technicians provide world-class service resulting in higher CSI-scores, this would be classified as base management.
- 3Outflow: When customers decide to leave or simply omit coming to your service centers we classify these events, or non-events, as outflow. Your preventive measures should be informed by outflow data.
- 4Win-back: Customers who are no longer servicing their vehicle at your service departments and are highly desirable are classified as win-back clients. It's the high-value lost-souls you would want to focus on.
Next, we will design a basic performance monitoring dashboard. We will use the customer flow model to structure the dashboard, see below:
Customer database management is a large topic and we will use these definitions liberally to suggest, but not prescribe, performance monitoring visuals, metrics and analyses.
Inflow: Appointments and service types
Monitoring departmental performance should always include service acquisition activities. What type of service is coming in, which service advisor is getting assigned which type of work and what are the near term trends, are some of the questions you would need to ask.
In terms of appointments we might want to arrange our dashboard in the following way and with the following objects:
This gives some insight into what's incoming, however, we might want to add longer term trends, goals and benchmarks as well as some monetary goals. Another useful metric not included here are drop-offs, which we might further augment with appointment channels.
Base Management: Key metrics and promises
Our key sales and retention resource in our department is the service advisor. Revenues hinge on the advisor selling consultatively and advising the service customer on preventive maintenance. As fixed ops directors we want to know how our service advisors are managing the sales process.
There are many ways we could develop this part of the dashboard, and we may need some dedicated performance monitoring reports on service advisor performance. Below are some suggestions:
Visual flags help you discern, at-a-glance, where you are falling short in terms of key metrics.
Base Management: Technician hours
Do you know your top performing techs? Have you got a handle on new hires, are they being assigned RO's matching their skill-levels or is there a mismatch resulting in efficiency losses? Employee retention is a priority for dealers as there's a shortage of skilled service technicians.
This portion of the performance dashboard gives a high-level view of hours by technician flagging any issues you may be having in terms of labor producitivity:
Even if you have the needed capacity to handle all incoming RO's you still want to monitor service quality, use this section to get an overview and a dedicated report on technician efficiency for detailed review.
Outflow: Our leaking bucket
The definition of retention is situational. For single-point dealers retention might be defined as failure to return for service within a 12-18 month period. In a multi-location setting, this definition might relaxed such that a return visit to any of the dealer rooftops would count as retention. In addition, since we are primarily discussing customer retention we may want to relax the definition further to encompass vehicle sales.
Needless to say there are many ways of defining retention and depending on our definition our performance metrics will vary. To get started we have added a visual for common vehicle segments and a residual service value based on NADA average repair order values and average vehicle age:
The visual needs to be actionable and we need to do something about high-value customers leaving our business. Acquiring new customers through vehicle sales is sub-optimal if we're acquiring into a "leaky bucket".
Win-Back: High-value lost souls mapping
The concept of lost souls refers to those customers who haven't shown up for service as expected and are no longer in a churn-prevention window. We might not want to offer incentives to low-value customers outside our primary marketing area. The following visual is meant to demonstrate which customers are within driving distance from our dealership and have bought a car from us:
The visual shows lost souls from our database of passive customers. In addition, they have been filtered on high-value attributes, ie. frequency of vehicle purchase and service, as well as monetary value of purchase and service sales breadth. The map is constructed to show which zip-codes fall within a 15-minute drive time of our dealership, suggesting those locations that can be sold on convenience in addition to other offerings.
Use this visual to drill down to customer contact details and any preferred method of contact you've recorded. Some data cleansing service may also be necessary to ensure that your customer contact information is still up to date.
The Performance Monitoring Dashboard in review
One of your main responsibilities as fixed ops director is departmental performance monitoring. With increasing responsiblity for both dealer revenue and profits resting on your department's shoulders, you need to have the tools necessary for performing monitoring.
The performance monitoring dashboard below is just an example (with mock-data). Hopefully, you can pick some elements or find ideas for further performance monitoring and management enhancements:
It may well be that we need to segment fixed ops monitoring into different reports and dashboards by process: appointments & booking, write-ups & MIP, service sales, parts, labor. In addition, fixed ops may need to be augmented with F&I for service agreements, BDC-data for call center efficiency as well as vehicle sales for cross-process analytics.
While an attempt at customer orientation has been made, a true customer flow dashboard would orient each process and sub-process on the customer, allowing for advanced analytics such as profiling, segmantation, customer lifetime value and equity, win-back and survival rates, service churn and prevention to name a few. In closing, I have a couple of questions for you:
- What are you currently doing to monitor performance in your service department?
- Are you using performance dashboards to gain an at-a-glance situational awareness of engagements and interactions between your service department and the customer?