NADA University has been received well by the first Australian students to go through the ranks.
The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) University courses are up and running, bringing specially designed courses from the world-renowned NADA educational programs to Australian Dealers.
Devised for staff from shop foreman to Dealer Principals to show how dealerships can maximise customer retention, maximise profits and secure business back from independents, the first Service Department Operations Management Course was held in March at the Motors Group dealership in Launceston, Tasmania and was attended by service managers from both the Motors Group and Gowan’s Motor Group. The course was well-received by participants, who gained a comprehensive look at the workings of the service department from a fresh angle– including analysis of financial statements, sales, expense, forecasting, pay plans and applying them to case studies.
‘The course was really very good,’ said Dany Wong, a Service Manager with Motors Group.
‘There are several things that I really liked about it. One was the interaction. You don’t just listen to someone talking, but bounce ideas off each other, talk about what others are doing in their workshop and what you are doing in your workshop and how their ideas might help you.
But the biggest difference to the other courses that I have attended is that you actually use live data from your business. Using live figures means you can relate it to your business. It’s the best thing I have seen on a training course, by far.’
For Mark Taylor, Service Manager for Gowan’s Motor Group, the outcome was similarly positive. ‘The course was very good and pretty in-depth,’ said Mr Taylor. ‘I think the best thing about it is that you use your own dealership figures. That gives you a new angle on things. You can see areas to improve on and can implement those ideas when you come back to the dealership. We covered pretty much everything – from mechanics’ efficiencies to your own figures on hours sold last month, to where you can implement more ideas on how to make money.
We also discussed the ups and downs of scenarios such as when a customer hasn’t paid a bill and the effects that has on the company, and we took part in a role-playing exercise in which someone was a warranty clerk, someone was a service advisor and someone was a customer. That was a great exercise – it gave you a look from every angle and that was great.’
The Service Department Operations Management course was specially tailored by industry experts from the Australian Automotive Dealer Association (AADA), NADA, and the course provider in Australia, the MTA Institute of Technology.
The course is delivered by NADA-accredited consultant Rob Mackenzie. ‘The course went very well,’ said Mr Mackenzie. ‘There were some great moments when the guys were actually a little gobsmacked at how much they could do using the information we gave them. They were very excited about what they were hearing. We go through the various modules and show them how things are supposed to work, and then ask them to do exactly the same but using their own dealership figures. Then we take those and say “Right, that’s where you are and that is how you compare to the NADA guide.” It can be quite a surprise.
For instance, regarding repair orders, a service advisor could come out from behind their desk, do a walkaround of the car with the customer and perhaps discover other things on the car that require attention,’ said Rob. ‘Adding one line per repair order can add massive profit to the dealership.’
For Ben Berne, a service manager with Motors Group, taking the course was a positive step. ‘I’ve only recently become a service manager and there are a lot of elements in the course that I probably wouldn’t have thought of. And using the figures from your own dealership was great. It puts a more realistic approach to it, you’re more involved and want to know more, and as soon as you get back you start seeing where you can change.’
Another element of the course that is new is the analysis of ‘Proficiency’ – a combination of productivity and efficiency, with productivity being the number of hours a technician is actually working, and efficiency being the amount of time it takes for the technician to finish the job. ‘If the flat-rate manual says a particular job should take three hours and the technician can do it in two hours, we can say he is efficient – he can complete the job in less time than is actually allocated,’ said Mr Mackenzie. ‘But what does he do with that extra hour? If a technician is 120 per cent efficient, but only productive for 80 per cent of the day then he is effectively costing a dealership money. The combination of being efficient and productive – that’s how you get the calculation of proficiency and it’s a relatively new way of looking at things.’
Terry Bienefelt, Motors Group Director and State Manager Fixed Operations observed the course:
‘For new service managers it’s a good course. It covers the basics of service management and it got them thinking about pay plans and about different ways of analysing the data – especially the financial data that comes out of the DMS. It gave them the basics, and the fact they used their own live data was good because they were able to extrapolate that data, see where it sat and then were able to compare that with everyone else. A new service manager will certainly get a lot out of it. Having case studies in courses is brilliant, otherwise you’re just doing theory,’
‘By the end of the course, participants will have covered many elements that effect the profitability of the service department,’ said Mr Mackenzie. ‘They will have an understanding of the importance of cash flow, they will know how to improve the contribution the service department makes to the dealership, they will be able to recognise where they can make a difference to the profitability of the department and the dealership and, amongst other elements, they will be able to develop and analyse pay plan models to identify opportunities for profit growth.
They will gain knowledge to make a significant difference to the bottom line of their dealership.’
The Service Department Operations Management course and the Sales Operation Management I and Sales Operation Management II courses are now available through the AADA.