Editor's note: The introduction of an earlier version of this story overstated the size of the new Porsche North Houston building.
Mike Yale, 52, joined Porsche North Houston in December. He's been a service adviser, service manager and parts and service director throughout most of his 30-year career, including 12 years at AutoNation dealerships and a year with Asbury Automotive.
In July, Porsche North Houston moved to a new, 60,000-square-foot building along Interstate 45. It's the flagship store for the indiGO Auto Group.
On adopting a "tighter ship" mentality in fixed ops as U.S. vehicle sales slow
I think you should feel that way every day. Watching expenses all day, every day is important. Making sure you're staffed properly, not overstaffed. It's really easy to hire and staff up. But it's not as easy going the other way.
On being one of the few authorized Porsche Classic repair centers
Classic is huge. We have so much opportunity with Classic. I'm super jazzed about that. I want them all. We can get the parts for them. We've got technical support for it. The training's out there. It's adding a whole other revenue stream to this business, which is really exciting to me.
On Porsche customers
I have friends and colleagues who do the General Motors thing, and our experiences every day are very different. The education level of our customer, the income level of our customer is very, very different. But we're still a boutique kind of franchise. These customers are willing to pay for service, but you have to deliver that service.
On what pleases customers
The small things like the steering wheel covers (which are installed as each car enters the service lane). When they need to be cleaned, we send them out to the dry cleaners, bring them back and they're ready to go again.
Providing a place that's comfortable, that's nice, where customers can sit and wait if they want. Our loaner fleet is exclusively Porsche.
On his service advisers' compensation
They get a base, and then they get a percentage of gross profit — customer pay and warranty — and then they get a little bump for CSI. It's a fairly simple pay plan.
On recommending service that customers don't need
I make it clear that there's zero tolerance for that. It's stealing, that's what it is. You're gone. You're done. There's no question about what happens next. You just don't work here.
On service shops that never fail to find something wrong with a car
What does that do to the brand? They (customers) think, "What a pile of crap I'm driving. Every time I go in there they've got a list of stuff I need to fix."
On his toughest management challenges
It's not the customers; I know what they want. It's the employees; that's always the most difficult part. Service advisers are different than technicians. Parts people are different than all of them. You have to understand how each group thinks in order to serve them and remove the roadblocks that they see every day that keep them from being successful.
On technician pay
We have a true, true team system here with technicians. We pool the hours. Everybody is paid eight hours a day. At the end of the month, everything over and above, we give them a third check. It works pretty good.
There's no more of this, "I've been working on rattles and squeaks for two weeks now. I ain't got an annual service [job] in a month, but your boy over here, he's getting them all."
I haven't had that conversation since I started working here. It's so refreshing. There's no excuse for not fixing that car right. Because if it pays four hours under warranty and it takes you six, you got six. You're going to get paid. This is the way this industry is going to go.