Service departments in focus at MDCE

ORLANDO, Fla. – John Spader, president of Spader Business Management, opened the service department track on day one of the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo with a presentation on service efficiency & profitability.

Using a form designed by his company, Spader showed the dealers in attendance how to drill down into their service operations to accurately measure true costs, revenues and profits. He also emphasized the importance of a solid service department during troubled economic times.

“Nine times out of ten you can look at a dealership that has a stable service department and those dealerships are doing well,” Spader said.

One point he came back to several times was the importance of dealerships establishing a proper labor rate.

“If you set your labor rate at anything less than a 55 to 60 percent efficiency, you’re asking the customer to pay for your inefficiencies,” Spader said. “And if you do that it’s probably going to blow up in your face.”

Spader’s session was followed by a panel discussion with three dealerships from Boating Industry magazine’s Top 100 Program and a group facilitator who shared strategies and suggestions and offered real-world examples attendees could apply to their own businesses.

Boating Industry Editor-in-Chief Matt Gruhn moderated the panel, which included Doug Malone, a vice president at Sail & Ski Centers, a five-location dealership based in Austin Texas; Carlton Phillips, CEO of Prince William Marine Sales, based in Woodbridge, Va.; Ed Alf III, president of Sea Ray of Cincinnati and Sea Ray of Louisville; and Bob Schwarz, senior group facilitator for Performance, Inc.

Panelists also discussed several other topics including:

  • How to employ successful performance-based pay plans
  • Key elements to pay for and measure efficiency
  • The key components of a support system that helps technicians function most efficiently
  • How to offer mobile service efficiently and profitably
  • How to stay efficient in the offseason
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