Fixed operations manager injects pep into former dealership stage

Butler says his makeover formula focuses on three basic actions: assess the situation, prioritize what needs to be done, then execute the plan.

The first step was to talk to individual employees and observe operations in general. Butler says he looked at a myriad of things: how do customers and staff interact? How do advisors greet clients? What is the general atmosphere? Do customers seem happy to be in the store? How is employee morale? How well does the parts department work with technicians? What is the skill level of the technicians? And so on.

“I also study the numbers,” says Butler, who provided fixed operations makeovers at two other stores, located in Virginia and Tennessee. “The numbers don’t lie.”

Butler determined that he had two big advantages on the bright side of the ledger: strong, skilled technicians who were good long-term employees.

“We have a very good base team,” he said.

On the negative side, there had been no training or process updates in the last four or five years.

“Over time, if you don’t invest and scale, things start to roll back,” Butler observes. “You start to underperform and not live up to your potential.”

In addition, technicians were underpaid, which stemmed in large part from a low effective labor rate, he says.

“If your ELR is too weak, you can’t afford to pay more for technicians or upgrade equipment and facilities,” says Butler. “It affects gross income and ultimately your bottom line. A higher ELR allows you to hire more staff and offer extras like porters and hosts.”

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