Service Managers: Get the Most Out of Your Fixed Ops Team

Larry Edwards

Excerpted from Larry's Ramblings by Larry Edwards

Don’t waste your time try­ing to help an employee who doesn’t want to be helped.  Peo­ple who resist being helped with behav­ioral and skills devel­op­ment needs will drain the life out of you.  They’re adults; mak­ing their own decisions

As a man­ager you have one pri­mary respon­si­bil­ity “pro­vide the busi­ness owner(s) with a return on the assets they have assigned to you”.  These assets can be bro­ken down into three dis­tinct categories:

  1. Human assets: the employ­ees in your department
  2. Phys­i­cal assets: build­ing, tools, equip­ment, soft­ware, etc.
  3. Cus­tomers assets: your dealer, over time, has devel­oped a dis­tinct “BRAND” for their deal­er­ship.  This brand deliv­ers buy­ing cus­tomers and cus­tomers who are here because of the dealership’s brand but have not yet made a deci­sion to purchase

Man­agers have a respon­si­bil­ity to man­age each and every asset assigned to them.  They must ensure that each asset under their con­trol is pro­vid­ing a decent return on the invest­ment the dealer has made to acquire these assets.  Man­agers fail (get fired) when they place a greater value on one asset assigned to them than they place on the other assets assigned to them. [Let’s take a look at some samples]


We imple­ment our Ser­vice Sales Process that requires the advi­sor to do a walk-around with every cus­tomer.  The man­ager approved imple­ment­ing this process; we assisted the man­ager with train­ing and imple­men­ta­tion.  Thirty days later, we do a follow-up visit and observe that the advi­sors are not doing the walk around.  When we ask the man­ager why the advi­sors are not doing the walk around, the answer is “I just can­not get them to do it!”  Well, if the man­ager can­not get his/her assets to “work prop­erly” then they have a respon­si­bil­ity to replace the asset.


The num­ber one prob­lem we encounter when con­sult­ing with parts depart­ments is not post­ing lost sales.  Deal­er­ship Parts Inven­tory Soft­ware is devel­oped uti­liz­ing the demand based prin­ci­pal of deter­min­ing parts inven­tory.  In order for the soft­ware to work, it must be told the “actual” demand (request) for parts.  The soft­ware takes demand for an indi­vid­ual part and applies a math­e­mat­i­cal for­mula that cal­cu­lates the num­ber of demands that must be received for an indi­vid­ual part, over a period of time, spec­i­fied by the Parts Manager.


The sin­gle largest prob­lem we encounter when con­sult­ing with col­li­sion is Deal­ers, Gen­eral Man­agers, and/or Fixed Oper­a­tions Man­agers who do not know how to man­age this depart­ment.  When these indi­vid­u­als encounter a sit­u­a­tion they do not know much about, they usu­ally fall back on some­thing they know a lot about: Con­trol­ling Expenses!  They do not know how many and what type of staffing they need; they aren’t sure how much a metal tech­ni­cian or a painter should be earn­ing; and most of their expe­ri­ence with paint and mate­ri­als was obtained when they nego­ti­ated that $100,000.00 up-front fee from their paint sup­plier.  Oh and by the way, they failed to give the col­li­sion depart­ment credit for the $100,000.00 paint pre-bate.

Larry Edwards, pres­i­dent of Edwards & Asso­ciates Con­sult­ing, can be reached at Read the full arti­cle here.