• Fixed-operations

Spotlight on the Fixed-operations Manager’s Role

Highlighting key personnel within a dealership to describe their roles

Cliff Lafreniere By: Cliff Lafreniere September 13, 2019

From time to time in this column, I highlight key personnel within a dealership to describe their roles and to educate readers about career opportunities in the retail automobile industry.

Today, I will focus on the role of the fixed-operations manager.

At my Ford dealership, that role is performed by my son, Matt, who has served in this capacity for two years.

A fixed-operations manager arrives at his or her job with a diverse skill set, along with a strong commitment to lifelong learning and adapting to change. In Matt’s case, he worked in the mining industry for seven years as a heavy equipment technician. He has been a licensed auto technician for 13 years, and he worked in our shop for two years as a licensed technician before taking his current role with us in 2017.

The primary responsibilities of a fixed-operations manager iare to ensure the profitability of the parts and service departments, to minimize expenses and to maintain customer satisfaction. He or she reports directly to the general manager, or the dealer principal.

At the start of each calendar year, the fixed-operations manager prepares an annual operating budget for the parts and services departments and monitors the departments’ and employees’ performance on an ongoing basis.

A fixed-operations manager wears many other hats as well, including working with customers and warranty clerks to administer warranty claims, hiring and training staff, creating pricing policies and maintaining positive relationships with customers.

Another important job requirement for this position is keeping abreast of all provincial and municipal regulations and complying with those regulations. That includes the safe storage and removal of all hazardous waste materials and maintaining a safe (and healthy) workplace.

When he worked in the mining industry, Matt was part of a health and safety team, and he understands the importance of maintaining a safe workplace where all employees have the proper tools to perform their jobs safely, and are trained in the most advanced safety protocols.

At my dealership, Matt has developed a unique performance program for technicians, where they receive bonuses if they participate in ongoing skills development training. It’s a win-win situation for our technicians and for the company as a whole.

Matt’s experience working in the mining and trucking industries has provided him with valuable contacts, and these relationships have helped him to secure auto maintenance programs.

Yes, there is a sales component to Matt’s position, where he actively solicits new business and serves as a sales consultant for customers who want to deal with him directly.

On occasion, when our service department is busy and understaffed, Matt rolls up his sleeves and performs automotive diagnostics, maintenance and repairs on cars and light-duty trucks (he still holds a valid auto technician licence and is skilled at accessorizing vehicles).

Although Matt has clearly defined roles within the dealership, he has become something of a jack of all trades (which is not uncommon among fixed operations managers). He has expertise in sales, service, auto repairs, parts, human resources, finance and marketing, and he applies that expertise wherever it is most needed.

Most fixed-operations managers are hired for the position after working as a parts and/or service manager. Although Matt hasn’t worked as a parts or service manager, his varied background and broad skill set uniquely qualified him to take on the role of fixed-operations manager, and he has learned on the go.

Ongoing professional development is an activity that Matt takes seriously. He regularly enrols in training courses offered by Ford of Canada, and he encourages all of his staff to do the same.

For those who are interested in a career in the retail auto industry, fixed-operations manager is a position that is within reach of anyone with the right skill set. It’s a position that is challenging, rewarding and affords a great deal of job fulfilment.

This column represents the views and values of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association. Write to president@tada.ca or go to tada.ca. Cliff Lafreniere is president of the TADA and is president of Pinewood Park Motors (Ford) in Kirkland Lake. For information about automotive trends and careers, visit carsandjobs.com.