How a VW dealer has boosted alignment, tire sales?

How a VW dealer has boosted alignment, tire sales?

But Onion Creek Volkswagen’s service advisors did not prioritize explaining the results to their customers. To solve this, Wetsel devised sales competitions that made wages fat, paid bonuses and offered other spiffs, such as dinners in luxury restaurants.

“We have a friendly match and every day I let everyone know exactly where their numbers are for the month,” he said. “That creates a competitive environment.”

When the wheels are misaligned, the tires wear prematurely and the vehicle tends to pull to the left or right. All it takes to disrupt an alignment is for a wheel to bump into a curb or hit a large pothole. Performing an alignment is not complicated. Usually no parts are even needed, just adjustments of threaded suspension components. By some estimates, six out of ten cars need an alignment.

Wetsel consulted with the store owner, Carl Barnett, and CJ Barnett, the dealer’s vice president, and together they came up with a plan: Carl Barnett suggested that the store hire a technician to perform the alignment alone – a task that usually takes about 35. minutes per vehicle, according to Wetsel. The store would also hire an additional doorman to assist the alignment technician.

The Barnetts agreed to increase the budget for supplies as well. Because the Hunter machines print in color, ink and paper costs would increase by at least about $2,400 a year.

Getting his team of five service consultants on board also took a bit of planning, Wetsel said. The service director set up the process of selling reconciliations, and then ensured that his team not only signed up, but followed it consistently.

Upselling can be a sensitive topic among service consultants. In some stores, advisors are often pressured to push services that are not really needed, which can erode trust and drive customers away.

Wetsel’s strategy consisted of two components. The first was communication.

“I explained to my advisors about the alignment investment,” he said. “If the alignment isn’t right and especially if the customer buys new tires, it’s in the customer’s best interest to get the alignment.”

A key feature of the Hunter equipment is that if a report comes back green, meaning the car doesn’t need to be aligned, the consultants can convey that to the customer, giving that customer confidence that the store is not trying to unnecessarily blow the bill, said Wetsel.

“This is one of those things they shouldn’t be ashamed of,” he said. “You don’t sell anything the car doesn’t need. It’s an honest service. Customers care about their tires.”

The second part of the plan concerns motivating the team. “The one thing you should always do with service advisors is show them how it affects their payroll plan,” said Wetsel. Now the store holds regular alignment sales contests, paying a commission for each. Some consultants, Wetsel said, have seen their salaries rise by as much as $500 a month for alignment sales.