Time to take a risk

Jim Henry is a special correspondent for Automotive News

Suggesting a New Year’s resolution for someone else is risky business, but to me 2013 is the year dealerships should resolve to sell extended-service contracts in the service lane.

As an outsider, I may underestimate how hard it is to rejigger pay plans and job descriptions and adopt anything new in general.

But electronic menus and other computer programs make it much easier for service writers to wear two hats. The usual complaint is that service writers don’t have time to do a good job in service and a good job selling extended-service contracts. The process doesn’t have to be that time-consuming.

Also, the concept makes so much sense from a consumer point of view. Who better than a service customer to “get” the need for an extended-service contract?

Finally, all signs point to a relatively benign market for U.S. auto sales in 2013. Sales forecasts are up. Interest rates are low. Pent-up demand is high. Credit is available.

Maybe 2013 is the year to disprove how good habits are forged in bad times, and bad habits are forged in good times. Doesn’t it make more sense to acquire a “good” habit, like selling in the service lane, in a “good” year, when there’s less life-or-death pressure for it to succeed right away?