Chris Ford, talent development


•20 Years of industry experience

•Extensive training career including;

     •United Sates Army Drill Sergeant 

     •Civilian Police officer

•Service Director at a top 5 US dealership

•Top performing service advisor exceeding  peers in all metrics. 


•Ability to conduct Gap Analysis activities on training

•Reduce high turnover

•Create and monitor measurable objectives for self and team


The Journey

 Over the last 20 years, I’ve worked in the automotive service field in roles ranging from Technician to Fixed Operations Director, as a sole contributor, team lead and senior manager.  In my years of experience, I’ve worked in high performing teams and in environments where no one succeed.  I’ve found it to be a universal truth that the sole contributors are under trained, under motivate, and under managed.  The managers are typically the top performing sole contributors who've been elevated to the management role in hopes they can replicate their success in others, but not given the training or skills to develop, manage, and lead a team.  Success is more of a matter of chance than predictable behaviors.  It’s been a frustrating AND rewarding journey.

Based on my experiences, and collaboration with several leading auto dealership executive management teams, I’ve established this training course.

The Training Course


" A coach will impact more people in one year than the average person will in an entire lifetime." - Billy Graham-


Mentoring or coaching your team to excel starts with a basic understanding of expectations, and delivering them in a manner that helps your employees understand the goal. Everyone plays a part, so break it down for them. Give them a recipe for success, and your coaching becomes a rewarding and enjoyable part of your job.

Here are ten basic guidelines to an effective coaching improvement session. See where they might be applicable to your situation:

1. Look in the mirror first.

 If you haven’t provided the guidance, expectations, and actual hands-on training the employee requires, how can you expect success? No wonder the performance falls short; employees who don’t understand what their jobs require often falter, become discouraged, and will deliver bad results, usually ending in a resignation or termination. Great, now you have to take your time to go hire someone else. Like my grandfather always told me, when the heck will you have time to do it right a second time? Ever hear the phrase “it’s either knowledge or attitude?” Be sure you provide clear training upfront.

2. Have the employee self evaluation

Getting your employees to reflect on the performance helps them recollect the steps they took. You can ask questions like, “So, tell me how you think you’re doing this quarter?” “How did it go with that customer out there?” “Walk me through that playbook move so I know what you were thinking.” Once that’s done you must follow-up with their assessment. “How did that work for you?” “What was the outcome?”

3. Share your observations.

It’s time to compare their behavior to what you already established when the employee was hired. Language here can include questions like, “Remember when we set up your goals, we talked about reaching 40K in parts sales per month,” “We talked about listening to customers’ concerns and acknowledging them before talking about solving them” and “You have to watch the third base coach for the OK to run through to home.” It’s important that you’re clear on the shortcoming. “You’ve been slipping below that 40K” or “You didn’t pay attention and as a result you fell short of satisfying the customer” are examples of showing that you’re watching!

4. Restate your expectations

Again, guiding the employee back to your behavior requirements when they were hired, or whenever the last change to their job was implemented, will reset the baseline for them. No character assassinations here; just address the behavior and remind them of the exact expectations you have.

5. Discuss negative effects.

Many times, employees become victims of tunnel-vision, and forget they are integral to a larger operation. If the firing pin malfunctions, or the starter fails, or the QB gets taken out, every other part or person in the process is affected in a certain way. In a car dealership for example, if a customer is treated poorly in the parts department, she may decide not to bring her car in for service, which hampers the service relationship, which in turn reduces likelihood of repeat business, leading to the customer buying the next car from another dealer. It costs money when performance falters. Keep your employees’ eye wide open to the effects.

6. Always include the why.

Along with the effect the lack of performance can have, always validate with why it’s important to improve. Discuss the benefits, not only for the customers and the business but also for the employee. These days there is always a WIIFM (what’s-in-it-for-me) involved, so address it. It’s a best practice for making change meaningful.

7. Confirm understanding along the way

 My mom used to say “am I just talking for my health?” usually accompanied by a stern look (or worse; but that’s another story). Don’t talk for the sake of talking; be sure the employee understands you. During the coaching, pause after important points and ask something like, “Does that make sense?” or “Are you with me?” Once the salient points are presented, ask the employee to repeat them back so you’re convinced he/she understands 

8. Establish an action plan

 You’re kidding, right? An action plan?? Yes, you have to write down what will be done to improve the performance. This has to come from both of you; if the employee has no skin in it and only hears you going on about “here’s what you’ll do” and “you better do this or else…” then the change is probably either not going to happen or it will be delayed and seriously diluted. Give them the opportunity to present their idea to improve, and even if it’s the same as yours, make it theirs. This doesn’t mean you have to accept the solution; just that if it’s feasible, give it a go. Remember the SMART process for goal-setting: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely! If the employee thinks it’s out of their ability you’re already reducing the likelihood of success.

9. Agree on follow-up date

  You can’t just cut them loose and expect success. That’s what got them in trouble in the first place (probably!). Set up checkpoints along the way to the goal. Follow-up in two weeks at the next sales meeting, after the next few practices, or the next several customer interactions. As you have these interim follow-ups/check-ups, test the progress against the action plan. Incremental improvements have deeper roots and are likely to remain in place once the habit is developed.

10. Reinforce and encourage successful behavior.

  When you see the changes in behavior or performance start to take hold, get right in there and give the attaboy for it. Everyone likes to be recognized for good actions, don’t they? The very worst thing you can do is spend all that time showing concern for poor performance and establishing an effective action plan, just to ignore employees when they do well. In the employee’s mind the thought is “What’s the point? Not even getting noticed for doing good?” Praise goes much farther than critique.

Service Training Walkthrough

A complete service walk through from previous dealership experience.