2016 Best in Class: Best Service Department

Best Service Department

South Shore Marine
Huron, Ohio

One of the core tenets at South Shore Marine is that the company offers “cradle to grave” care for its customers’ boats.

From its founding in 1989, South Shore built its business on service first and those roots have not changed in the intervening decades. It’s a recognition that a great dealership is only as capable as its ability to deliver on service promises.

That service success is built on strong systems, good relationships and a positive culture.

“The majority of South Shore Marine employees are boaters too, and they understand the urgency in providing quick service and sales turnaround to maximize time on the water,” says CFO Chuck Thompson. “South Shore takes any means necessary to make sure the customer gets the best boating experience possible. There have been times where the customer had a big outing planned and have had an issue with their boat the day before or morning of. Our mechanics are always quick to jump in a vehicle and drive out to help get that boat running in time for the customer.”

To encourage customer service that goes above and beyond, outstanding service technicians receive special recognition. Positive comments are posted for all to see, and considered as part of the annual compensation review. An Employee of the Month is also recognized during the monthly team meeting and in the monthly enewsletter, as well as with financial rewards from the company.

Efficiency matters

It’s also important to maintain efficiency and profitability, of course. At South Shore Marine, this is monitored daily in terms of the Red/Yellow/Green program.

shop-areaWith that system, each job is assigned a color based on analysis of labor relative to revenue: labor costs under 35 percent = green, labor costs from 36 to 50 percent = yellow/caution, and labor cost over 50 percent = red/not acceptable.

“Any labor costs in the red are discussed with the technician real time in order to improve efficiency, and help process flow in the service department,” Thompson says.

South Shore also tracks technician efficiency monthly using ADP’s software system, which is then posted in the shop area for all to view. Actual technician punch times from each day are entered into ADP where time entries fall into either collectible or uncollectible labor. The uncollectible labor is broken down into eight categories: policy work, auto/truck maintenance, unit movement, boat show setup, unit maintenance, shop meetings, lost time and building/repair maintenance.

brad-gerber-just-starting-the-process“At the end of each month, a labor report is generated showing collectible labor efficiency for each technician, and for the department as a whole,” Thompson says. “The labor report also breaks down total uncollectible labor into the eight [uncollectible] categories for each technician. This tracking is an important measure for the 17 technicians we have on staff, and helps us monitor and measure the opportunity cost for doing internal work along with making strategic business decisions within the service department.”

In planning for the year, the management team met with each of South Shore’s technicians and reviewed their previous year’s collectible efficiency and set goals for this year. They then meet with each technician monthly to review the previous month’s results and see how it tracks towards the goal set earlier in the year.

“We feel adding this monthly interaction will be beneficial in helping our techs reach their goals, which will in turn help achieve the goals set for the department,” Thompson says.

One of the areas South Shore especially excels is in warranty work. Delivering quality, efficient warranty work is important in maintaining positive relationships with customers and boat and engine manufacturers.

(For more from South Shore on this topic, see our Service Efficiency White Paper at BoatingIndustry.com/e-white-papers)

“We have built a special relationship with the customer service/warranty reps from our manufacturers that (some have even mentioned) is above and beyond that of most other dealers they deal with regularly,” Thompson says. “This has helped greatly in the response time for warranty issues, warranty payment turnaround time, as well as cooperation to help out on service issues even after warranty has expired, as customer goodwill assistance. Gaining the trust of the manufacturers we work with constantly, has been a huge help in warranty and goodwill assistance approvals to maintain the highest level of customer satisfaction possible.”

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