Civil War
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Civil War: Service VS. Sales

Are Your Service and Sales Departments in a Civil War?

To be recited to the cadence of the pledge of allegiance: I pledge allegiance to the mission, of the United departments of my dealership, and to the jobs that rely on each other. Mutual success, under one partnership, communicatively, adding value and dedication for all.

I call it, the Car Motivators pledge of dealership department alignment!

You need every person in every department of your dealership to understand the strategic direction, you are trying to take your company. When they know the direction and are excited to be a part of that vision, you have alignment! This is one sign of a #winningculture. Sometimes this alignment is off within each department. More often, when you take cross functioning departments like sales, service, parts, training, office, BDC, and marketing, things are even more skewed. This can get extreme and cost your dealership a lot of money. The office team can feel completely left out in the cold when it comes to processes and procedural changes when they should probably be the first to know. Sales departments complain that it’s the offices’ job to save the dealership money by finding ways to not pay salespeople. When these misalignments occur, you are bleeding profit. This is because disengaged employees directly impact turnover, productivity, and performance.

There are many ways to unite many departments and many amazing benefits to connecting each one. For this article, we will focus on service and sales. Here are a few things that you can do as a senior leader at your dealership, to unite these two cross functioning departments. The goal is to have your people putting the company first before self-interest and ultimately take profit margins to another level. This can be accomplished through a high level of team cohesion and alignment!

End the civil war between service and sales.

The all neglected service walk. Why do employees of dealers skip this all to important step? Most of the time, employees don’t see value in it for themselves. While its often-true sales will make the first sale and service makes the rest, salespeople aren’t thinking that far ahead. They want to sell a car right now, and anything beyond month end may not be worth spending time on. I ask sales teams at dealers I coach around the country, “What value do you see in doing a service walk with your customers?” I get the same answers almost every time, even from senior leaders. They say, “The service walk helps us begin a service relationship with the customers and ensures service gets business.” They see this as value for the dealership, but not necessarily for the salesperson. If they do perform this step its often because you or your OEM force them to with through paperwork. In short, they’re doing a service walk out of compliance rather than a commitment to the entire teams’ success. Often even ignoring how it affects their success because the payout is far in the future. The further in the future the reward, the less desire to act because the reward looks smaller. If you can create an immediate reward for this activity, it will generate buy-in. Another reason employees tell me that this doesn’t happen to the extent or should, or with the impact, it should have on sales is because salespeople say, they don’t want to bother service writers. Finally, and this is a big warning sign of a service and sales civil war, is when salespeople are fearful of how a customer will be greeted when they take them to service! This means there is guaranteed hostility between the two departments, that must be hashed out.

First, let’s create a WIIFM (What’s in it for me) For the service writers AND salespeople.

What if both sides were on the same team and wanted an amazing service walk for every customer? What would it mean for your dealership?Car Motivators recommendation: Build the team cohesion by pairing a group of salespeople with a service writer. Discuss openly in these groups how the service writer could add value to the salespersons’ process by meeting these customers! When the salespeople know who they should go to, and these people are now working together with the way they know that leads to success you can eliminate the barriers that may prevent a service walk.

If the service writer is trained on how to behave, specifics on the engagement with said customer, and the salesman knows that this improves their immediate closing ratio, they are more likely to do it. The service writer should know that when a salesperson brings someone back to them, that they will reap the service business if the deal is closed, and must treat the interaction as such. Saying something helpful like, “Your lucky to have Sean as your salesman, he always takes care of his customers, you’re in great hands! I’m looking forward to servicing your new vehicle for you!”

What gets measured gets done.

For maximum accountability, start measuring which team has the highest sale to service walk numbers and ratio to sales. If your service writers are logging the opportunities that went through the service walk process, now you can compare closing ratios for service walk vs non-service walk deals. Prove to your people this step gives immediate results. Find out which service write sales teams are not meshing well, and uncover the challenge. This will help everyone function more cohesively as a unit. One store I work with by measuring these metrics, uncovered the service writers were frustrated by after sale “we owe” work. As a result, this was preventing a good service walk! By addressing the issue on the sales side and tightening up some processes, we saved the store money in after sale we owe work and allowed for sales and service to work better together.

Other tips for uniting both departments.

Overall there are many other ways that you can end the civil war between service and sales. You can have your sales department give a “pit stop” to each customer. Now the customer can stop in for a free post-sale inspection, fluid and tire pressure check. You can have service share a service retention metric on each salesperson, so the sales team can have line of sight to long-term opportunities. Service can communicate to sales with scheduled customer service visits for their sold customers so that the salesperson can ensure they talk to their customers each time. One of the many leadership lessons I learned in the Army is that people appreciate the recognition. Create a unit citation or award that you can give to each service and sales team that reaches objectives or sets records each month.

To sum up, you can achieve some great results by having these two departments align and work together. This can be integral in taking your dealership to the next level. Make the service walk introduction extremely valuable to the salesperson and customer. This ensures that your salespeople start doing the service walk after the demo drive and before the write up each opportunity. Sell it to them by asking your sales team, “Should you introduce your fiancé to your family before or after your marriage?” The answer is before, why do the service walk after the proposal? You’ve lost an opportunity to woo the customer over and make closing the sale even easier by demonstrating how confident each player in both departments are of each other. Come up with creative ways for the two departments to work hand in hand. Integrate both teams into the process and show each employee the value of this teamwork, by measuring the results and how they affect each player on the team. You will close more sales, increase service retention, and help create a #winningculture at your dealership.

Car Motivators works with car dealers across the country to customize real and relevant training that everyone at the store wants and needs. By coaching excellence into each player on the team, we create an ongoing sustainable process for developing and growing sales among your top performers. We help our dealers align to a unique cultural vision, value proposition, and ensure this vision becomes reality when we create winning cultures that impact your results. Your managers can leverage the tools you already invest in, and the people you already have to increase both profit and sales without working harder. If you are interested in achieving these results, you may email or visit

#thisistraining #coachingexcellence #winningcultures #leadershipdevelopment #sales #servicedrive #culture #automotive

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