Fixing fixed ops

New and used vehicle sales in Canada will always fluctuate, and there’s not much dealers can do about it.

Even the most agile dealership, with the best marketing outreach and customer retention strategies, will experience events that nip into the profits — such as a global pandemic, an economic downturn or a lack of inventory.

That’s why getting your fixed ops running on all cylinders is so important to your dealership’s business performance and sustainability.

One challenge stems from the fact that many people in senior dealerships have come up through the variable side of the business. They tend to focus their attention on new digital tools and marketing strategies to feed their sales funnel. When dealers visit large mega shows like NADA, there is no shortage of shiny new toys to capture their attention — and their limited investment budget.

Dealers who want to drive the type of interest and investment needed in fixed operations should lean more on their service teams. Encourage them to attend the high-profile trade shows and do their research, meet with vendors and run pilots of different products to measure their success.

This type of longer-term business planning is, unfortunately, not all that prevalent in many fixed-ops departments. Most are just trying to manage the day-to-day ebb and flow of customer demands, keeping service techs busy and meeting their monthly targets (not to mention coping with the sanitization protocols during a pandemic).

Another option for forward-thinking dealership leaders is to send their key service leaders to a program like the Canadian Dealer Academy, run by the Automotive Business School of Canada. This not only prepares personnel for more advanced roles within the dealership, but it also helps them develop a broader understanding of the entire dealership business.

Perhaps most importantly, it introduces them to the language of the boardroom, and how to convert their recommendations and technology requests into a format that will be familiar to business leaders approving other software or capital investments.

The technology exists to truly modernize your service department; it’s just a matter of setting priorities.

It’s too bad there isn’t more of a focus on fixed ops because the vendor community has been developing all sorts of next-generation tools, many of them aimed at helping to automate processes and drive other efficiencies. You can read about some of these tools and technologies in our cover story in this issue.

Many of the software vendors are also working with dealerships to better integrate customer retention tools into the service experience. This delivers a more personalized experience to the customer, with more frequent and less awkward communication.

The technology exists to truly modernize your service department; it’s just a matter of setting priorities. Train your key fixed ops team leaders, the ones who live and breathe it every day, to know that innovation isn’t only something that happens at the front of the store. It’s something they can be proud to lead.

About Todd Phillips

Todd Phillips is the editorial director of Universus Media Group Inc. and the editor of Canadian auto dealer magazine. Todd can be reached at

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