People like to know the score. That’s why we spend a lot of time glancing at the scoreboard when watching a sporting contest. “How many outs? What’s the down and the yardage?” We do the same thing in business. “How are we doing? How many units are sold? What’s the bottom line?”

What if there were no scoreboards at a ballgame? Imagine trying to coach a team when you don’t know the score until the end of the game, or where the players don’t know how to keep score.

Individual performance improves when people know what they’re supposed to do and how their behavior contributes to the team — and the score. Yet service technicians in many dealerships don’t know the score.

To improve service department results, you need to develop and maintain a “Service Scoreboard.” We see tremendous improvements from dealers who post and celebrate the accomplishments of their team with specific goals that drive high levels of accomplishment and motivation.

When we say scoreboards, we mean something that is real, large and highly visible. Not a memo posted on a wall or information passed to technicians verbally — but a SCOREBOARD. The scoreboard, its visibility, its development and its accuracy are paramount to motivation and productive behavior.

Service Scoreboards

Scoreboards specifically focus on accountability, accomplishment and recognition.

Accountability increases the responsibility of technicians for areas that they directly control or influence because they have a personal stake in the outcome. Accomplishment attaches specific measurements to those responsibilities and establishes attainable targets of performance. Recognition means not just an “atta boy” but posting the results vs. target for all to see. Public recognition is a powerful motivator.

Establishing a scoreboard is fairly simple but the reasons to do so and what to score can be complex. Some dealers use financial statements. We promote a different approach that focuses on several specific variables, the sum of which drives results for the overall organization.

Given the importance of absorption to dealership results, especially when wholegoods sales are down, the logic is to measure and post critical variables that increase gross profit from service. Gross profit is the net of revenue less expenses. The items that can contribute to these are productivity, sales volume, expenses vs. budget and the like.

For example, a dealer might identify 5 critical items that drive dealership results, like productivity, sales leads, training, rework and customer satisfaction.

If targets are set at reasonable levels and technicians hit their targets consistently, then you and they know that the dealership is making money and service is contributing to absorption.

Service managers should also be scored, but, for them, use a separate scoreboard and different, but equally challenging, set of critical variables.

Developing a Scoreboard

The first step in establishing individual expectations for “scoring” is to start with your company’s mission, which reflects the overall strategies of your business. Next, review the service department’s critical variables — the ones necessary for achieving the overall strategies. Third, review the service technician’s job function. Fourth, consider how they contribute to service department gross profit.

With this checklist, you’ll be able to communicate to your employees your expectations of them, how they contribute to departmental success, how the department’s critical variables contribute to its strategies, and ultimately, how the technician’s performance contributes to the dealership’s overall success.

It’s important to involve employees as much as possible so that you gain their buy-in. People work harder to attain goals they’ve set themselves than they do for goals set by others. Employees who have been with you for a few years and know your company’s mission will be easy to involve.

If there are employees who don’t understand your mission and the necessary success factors, work with them on these strategic areas first, then help them in establishing and understanding their individual goals. For example, technicians must understand how productivity leads to profits in the service department or they will not see the point of aspiring to a goal of 85% productivity.

When designing goals for technicians, start first with what they do. List all of their job functions, which may be different from job descriptions in that they consist of specific tasks that they must perform. Link each function with targets or goals. One example might be no more than one recall for every 200 work orders.

Make sure that the expectations that you and the technicians develop are specific. Settle on a particular goal rather than saying, “I just want your best effort.” By setting clear standards of performance together, you will have communicated your expectations and your employees will have agreed with them. You can now monitor and evaluate their work more objectively. In many cases, this personal dialogue will also reveal other things the employee needs to reach their targets, like additional training.

Once you’ve set the goals, the next step is to prioritize them. What is more important for a service employee — productivity or profitability?

When priorities are clearly established, employees know the answers to these questions and others that they encounter every day. In the scoreboard process, each technician knows what is expected of him or her and how important it is to their job performance and evaluation.

Scoring the Boss

No matter how we evaluate employees, the critical variable in successful companies is the quality of the leadership. As with individual technicians, targets can be set and measured monthly service managers. Variables that can be measured include:

? Techs Above 85% Application Rate

? Comeback Rate

? Key Expenses vs. Budget

? Hours/Repair Order

One of the interesting things we’ve observed in establishing scoreboards is the environment of cooperation and level of energy devoted to setting one up for the top person — not a scoreboard for the company — but a scoreboard for the boss.

Often, when critical variable measurements are aggressive, and when the boss falls short of the targets, we see tremendous employee support to rally around the goals and to get the boss’ performance above target. We don’t see the type of energy directed toward improving the impersonal ‘company’ goals that we see when it involves individual leaders.

Everybody Wins

One result of the enhanced communication that the scoreboard process creates is that the employees enjoy their work more. Satisfied employees lead to higher levels of customer satisfaction. Better customer satisfaction means increased market share.

The other result is that dealers can motivate individual employee behavior that supports dealership goals. With technicians, this means creating specific incentives that improve dealership absorption.

With Service Scoreboards, everybody wins!

The authors are with Currie Management Consultants who specialize in advising dealers in the machinery industry. They can be reached at and