Joe Geosits, 39
Parts & service director, Audi of Smithtown
Achievement: Fixed broken-down communications in the service and parts department
It was easier said than done, but fixing a lack of communication in the parts and service department helped improve teamwork, efficiency and customer satisfaction for the whole dealership, said Joe Geosits, parts and service director at Audi of Smithtown, St. James, N.Y., on Long Island.
"You kind of have three communities: the service advisers, the parts countermen and the technicians," he said. Those groups were barely speaking to one another when Geosits (pronounced GAY-sits) took over the department almost four years ago.
"Communication was poor. Teamwork wasn't there," he said. For example, Geosits said service advisers might ask a technician what was wrong with a car and get a short answer such as, "I already typed it in the computer. You could read it yourself."
Because of testy responses like that, Geosits said, advisers hesitated to call techs late in the afternoon to ask if a customer's car could be scheduled for an oil change or other quick job.
As a result, some work got postponed that could've been done right away. Salespeople also had problems scheduling delivery prep work on short notice, he said.
Meanwhile, he found technicians also had valid complaints. In the past, techs stamped repair orders with a time clock. That gave them an easy way to keep track of productive hours. Then the dealership switched to computer-based records and the techs had no easy way to track their hours.
The change took place before Geosits joined the dealership. He said it hurt morale because, say, midway through the week a technician might not know if they were on track for more or less than 40 hours for the week. Geosits said he started providing a daily printout to document each technician's productive hours from the day before.
Geosits said he also instituted regular meetings in the department to get people cooperating again. "As crazy as it sounds, we also had barbecues, any kind of way to get everyone together," he said.
Pretty soon morale improved. The department started turning jobs around faster, and customer satisfaction scores for the whole dealership improved from near the bottom to at or near the top for Audi's Eastern Region. "It was a pretty quick turnaround," Geosits said.
"The best part about this success story," Geosits said, "is that it was made possible by the very same employees who were struggling in the same store just a few years ago."