Becoming A Shop Hero
SHOP STATS: CARS of America Location: Glenview, Ill. Owner: Bob Dupre Average Monthly Car Count: 350 Staff Size: 10 (4 techs, 2 service advisors, 1 SA assistant, 1 owner, 1 controller, 1 service manager) Number of lifts: 11 Shop Size: 6,615 square feet ARO: $700 Annual Revenue: $2.2 million
When Danae Prado came to work for CARS of America as service manager in 2017, she knew there was work to be done. The shop lacked operational processes and the processes that did exist were constantly overlooked. But, with over 20 years of experience in customer service, she knew exactly what the shop needed: guidance.
In all of her past positions, both at dealerships and independent shops, Prado has always been considered the go-to person for assistance, be it finance, customer service, warranties. You name it, Prado knows how to fix it.
Since then, she’s focused her efforts on ways to improve how shops run, with an emphasis on communication, efficiency, and overall well-being. And in just three short years, her efforts have helped CARS of America bring its hours per repair order (HRO) up to 3.7 and achieve a 100 percent effective labor rate, a $700 ARO, and over 600 reviews that have resulted in a 4.9-star rating on Google.
In her unique role, here’s what Prado focuses on each and every day, and how all of her success has made her a trusted leader on the team.
It wasn’t that Prado needed to overhaul the whole operation when she came on board. Rather, the changes she implemented were a matter of tightening up the way businesses was conducted.
“There was definitely some lack in processes, so I implemented a little more structural management and constructive criticism into the shop,” she says.
Now, Prado oversees the technicians and assists service advisors with writing estimates to make sure they hit overall expectations. With technicians, she checks all of the tickets that come through to see if the technician is finished with the repair order and to make sure they have a story to tell. In other words, she’s preparing them to talk to the customer and making sure they’re everything is being explained thoroughly. After each service, she then has technicians complete a test drive to confirm everything is running smoothly, making sure all of the noises are gone, no check engine lights have gone on, etc.
As a part of the shop’s newly implemented processes, Prado says double-, even triple-checking everything is essential, especially when it comes to parts orders.
Prado is diligent in confirming parts come from the correct vendors and were added to the correct orders, following up with vendors when parts don’t arrive on time and ensuring parts are up to the shop’s standards. On top of this, she checks customer history data to make sure they receive the right services and that service advisors are spotting ways to capitalize on strategic recommendations.
“At the end of the day, we’re sales people,” Prado says. “There are additional things we can do to go above and beyond to make sure customers’ vehicles are maintained, and verify that we’re getting it right every time.”
While Prado’s already made measurable improvements to the shop’s processes, she’s always on the lookout for ways to push the shop forward.
“I’m always trying to adjust things and am thinking of ways we can innovate for better communication and efficiency,” she says.
One of the first things she did when she came to the shop was develop a magnetic board to help follow vehicles throughout the shop. That way, a technician can look up and know exactly where a car is without having to bother a service advisor, ensuring anyone can answer customer questions while increasing productivity.
“It’s definitely made it better for communicating with the customer,” she says.
Prado has also kept service advisors from losing valuable time on the phone getting vendor estimates. All along, Prado discovered the shop had catalogs it could utilize instead to provide accurate estimates.
“We were falling behind on answering customer phone calls and giving them updates about their vehicle,” Prado says. “This really freed up the service advisor’s time by simply having them use what we already had.”
One of the biggest changes that has led to the shop’s success, according to Prado, was adjusting the vendors they work with, which brought better quality parts to the shop.
“If you put a part on a car that’s cheap, it’s more than likely to fail,” Prado says. “We started paying for higher-quality parts so it doesn’t become an issue in the future for the customer, while also painting a better shop image."
Supporting Her Shop Family
While Prado is a new mom herself, she's always tried to look after her team at the shop. Every day, she strives to assist her team with anything they need. Every day, she strives to assist her team with anything they need.
“There’s a lot that happens as a service advisor; it’s a very hard job,” she says. “Sometimes, the mind is not able to multitask like we think we can, and there can be a lot of things missed.”
Every morning, she assists the service advisors with the drop-off process. With roughly 10 to 12 customers dropping off their cars in the morning all at once, she helps out where needed to try to make the process as seamless as possible for them.
She even goes above and beyond to ensure everyone’s well-being is in tip-top shape, especially with how busy technicians can be throughout the day. She checks in on them, making sure they have eaten, keeping them happy, and making sure there isn’t any hidden animosity. All in all, she says her biggest focus is to make sure they all have a good day.
“I’m there to make sure everyone’s day is going well, providing my support when and where it is needed,” she says. “Then, we are able to all go home at the end of the day and we are already getting the next day off to a great start.”