Shane Dyer rolled into work just after 6 a.m. on Sept. 9 thinking of the possibilities.
The manager of the Quick Lane service business at Maroone Ford of Margate was expecting two regular customers who might be candidates to purchase an extended service contract. Could he make a sale and put another "X" next to his name on the white board keeping score in the service department of the south Florida AutoNation dealership?
For the past year, Dyer and the service advisers at Maroone Ford have been selling extended service contracts and prepaid maintenance contracts from the dealership's service drives. It's part of AutoNation's companywide initiative to boost revenue of products normally sold in the finance and insurance office -- and to keep customers coming back to the service department.
Dyer receives $75 for each service contract he sells: $25 from Ford and $50 from AutoNation. The money is good motivation, Dyer admits. But the ultracompetitive manager also likes knowing that each sale helps the company and adds to his reputation as a go-getter.
"I just got AutoNation another customer for four or five years," says Dyer, 32.
And that's the ultimate goal behind the push to get service advisers to sell products typically sold in the F&I office, says AutoNation COO Michael Maroone.
"The whole idea is to drive repeat business into service -- to demonstrate our capabilities, to gain the customer's trust that we are the right place to service their vehicles," Maroone says.
Through the first half of 2010, AutoNation sold 60,000 prepaid maintenance plans. Of those, 21,000 were sold in the service drives, Maroone says, adding, "I'm pretty happy with that."
Those maintenance plans, covering oil changes and tire rotations, are the primary focus of the service-drive effort.
Sales of the much more expensive extended service contracts also total about 60,000 companywide. But just a tiny fraction -- maybe 1 percent -- comes from the service drives. Some stores are doing a better job than others of selling the products.