Slow Down to Move Faster

April 21, 2023

It’s no secret that the last couple of years have been financially good for the retail tire and service industry. Sales are up, profits are up and car count is largely up across the country.

What’s not up is employee head count. It has been incredibly difficult to find qualified candidates who are looking for a career, not just a paycheck. And a lot has been asked of existing employees to do more with less. Many of you have rightly adjusted pay scales over the last few years and while compensation is important — we have to compete with the pay of other trades — we also need to make sure our employees work smart.

Car count can, at times, be overwhelming. There isn’t a toll booth at the entrance of the store to make sure customers arrive in a regular, organized fashion. Most stores deal with a minimum of two rushes — one close to the morning with drop-offs and waiters and then again near the end of the day as customers pick up their vehicles. Make sure your employees know how to prioritize their efforts during these rushes.

In the drop-off rush, many times the pressure to “get through” writing up all the customers is wrongly prioritized by a staff that is likely short of proper head count. When an employee is left to make their own decisions about how to handle this, they usually go into “plow through” mode and try to write up as many tickets as fast as possible.

While this works in the short term, the way they do it is by skipping critical steps necessary to properly service the customer. A customer is sold tires without ever going out to the car. The proper interview of a customer with multiple service issues isn’t done and the technician is left to guess the causes. Think of a ticket that is written that simply says “engine diagnostic” without any explanation or history. These kinds of omissions from properly taking the right steps at the right pace may get everyone in the door, but it leads to absolute chaos and missed opportunities throughout the day.

Teach your employees during this time that yes, it is necessary to pick up the pace and act urgently, but speed never trumps accuracy or proper process. Teach them to acknowledge customers who are waiting patiently. Teach them to take a deep breath when 10 customers arrive at the same time. Wouldn’t you rather have seven properly written tickets with the necessary information gathered from the customer and expectations discussed, rather than 10 hastily written, poorly executed tickets with things missing like phone numbers and a full explanation of when, where and how that mysterious noise happens? Skipping steps makes the process slower — not faster.

It's a daunting task, to be sure. The pressure to get through every customer as fast as possible weighs heavily on even the most seasoned service advisor. But the likelihood that one customer who can’t wait 10 minutes is going to financially benefit the store or treat your employees with the respect they deserve is very low. Why should the entire process of professionally handling every possible customer be compromised by one or two people during the rush? It shouldn’t.

And don’t forget about the afternoon or evening rush. First and foremost, tickets need to be ready to invoice. That means all pertinent tire and service work is properly keyed onto the ticket, all authorized work is cleared and all declined work is properly identified.

It’s an added bonus if your staff can secure payment method and have a few tickets that are completely finalized. Again, during the rush is not the time to skip steps. Far too many advisors or counter people simply swipe the credit card, have the customer sign the invoice and off they go. This is a critical point in time where a professional advisor will review the ticket, explain what was done, identify what was not and possibly set up a next appointment. With average repair orders in the $400 range, care needs to be taken to ensure a customer fully understands what was done to their vehicle today and what future work needs to be addressed.

When the majority of customers feel they were rushed through the process — and most don’t understand the process or their vehicle needs to begin with — they develop suspicion. A customer who is suspicious of the process isn’t highly motivated to spend money. Have your employees focus on getting through the process at a speed that doesn’t require skipping steps. And be OK with the occasional impatient person who storms out after five minutes. They weren’t going to buy anything anyway.

Dennis McCarron is a partner at Cardinal Brokers, one of the leading brokers in the tire and automotive industry ( To contact McCarron, email him at [email protected]

About the Author

Dennis McCarron

Dennis McCarron is a partner at Cardinal Brokers Inc., one of the leading brokers in the tire and automotive industry ( To contact McCarron, email him at [email protected].