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Staff Spotlight: Service Manager Dan Retherford

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The day after his junior prom, Dan Retherford started working at a dealership. Rather than sleeping in and enjoying a lazy weekend day, Retherford got a jumpstart on what would end up being the start of his career.  Although he took time off to go to school, the allure of fixed operations kept him coming back for more. Working as the service manager at Bob Maxey Ford of Howell since 2003, Retherford has picked up a number of tips for being successful in the service department.

Don’t take it personally.

Throughout the years, Retherford has learned to put himself in the customers’ shoes and realized that when they’re upset, it’s not necessarily directed at him.

“They may just be having a hard day,” Retherford says.

It’s knowledge that has come with experience and age, Retherford says. It’s hard for someone just starting out to realize that. Another important lesson to remember is that everyone makes mistakes, so don’t get too down on yourself if something happens, Retherford explains.

Get involved outside of the dealership walls.

Retherford is the president of the Service Managers Club of Michigan. He says that getting involved in an organization like that has allowed him a social platform to be able to air his grievances and concerns.

“It’s a way to be able to interface with corporate people,” Retherford says. “You can’t pick up the phone and call the vice president of the customer service division [of Ford] but you can talk to your rep.”

According to Retherford, programs like the Service Managers Club have allowed him to nurture partnerships with vendors and people that work for Ford and help break down the barrier that often exists between the people who work for the dealership and the people that work for the manufacturer.

Sticking with it pays off.

Part of the reason Retherford feels he’s been so successful is because he’s had so much experience working for Ford. According to him, he’s seen many service managers fail when they change from Ford to GM, for example.

“It’s like learning a whole new language,” Retherford says. “It’s a tough job. Find someone that can stick with it for a while.”  

A welcoming atmosphere helps.

Bob Maxey Ford of Howell is on pace to win its third President’s Award in a row. Success like that doesn’t happen on accident. The dealership does whatever it can to make the customer feel valued, and the service department is no exception, says Retherford.

“Act like you care; say ‘hi,’” Retherford says.

Retherford remembers his customers’ names, their vehicles and the issues they’ve had with their vehicles in the past. More than that, he remembers the issues that they’ve had with the dealership in the past so he can be ready to right that wrong and address it up front.


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