How Well is Your Service Advisor Performing?
Maximizing production and profits in the auto repair business today requires having service advisors who are fantastic at winning and keeping customers, and executing profitable transactions!
Here at RLO Training, we telephone-shop service advisors, audit shop repair orders, and evaluate the financial statements of independent auto repair shops, and in doing so, we have noticed that most shops employ service advisors who could use some immediate upgrading of their skills. This would allow those shops to compete effectively and remain healthy and viable.
What are the most important skills and abilities of a Service Advisor?
Telephone Sales Skills
The phone plays a major role in the daily activities of the service advisor. The service advisor’s sole objective with incoming calls (from both existing and prospective customers) is to get the person and their vehicle into the shop. This requires excellent phone sales skills.
When we perform mystery shop calls, to test the skills of the service advisors in our training programs, we notice some common areas that need improvement. These include: the service advisor taking control of the conversation by asking questions, demonstrating genuine concern for the customer, qualifying the customer, using the customer’s name, providing the customer with options, and asking for the customer’s business. These elements are part of a systematic approach to maximizing marketing efforts. In most cases, improving a service advisor’s telephone sales skills could mean an increase of 25% or more in a shop’s sales!
Verbal & Written Communication Skills
Service Advisors also must have excellent face-to-face verbal communication skills. These include getting a detailed description of the symptoms from the customer, obtaining supporting information and documentation, and determining the customer’s expectations, along with obtaining routine customer and vehicle information, of course.
This information should then be noted on or attached to the repair order so the technician fully understands what work needs to be done. Once all the service and repairs have been performed, the service advisor is responsible for providing the customer with a detailed written explanation of the work the technician did.
We’ve noticed that many comebacks are actually “service advisor comebacks.” A service advisor comeback could be caused by any of the following:
- For one reason or another, the service advisor confused the customer, the technician, or both.
- The service advisor inadvertently led the customer, the technician, or both to believe something to be one way, when actually the opposite was the case.
- The service advisor failed to provide enough information to the technician, causing the tech to approach the service or repair incorrectly.
- The service advisor failed to provide the customer with enough information to justify the customer’s expenditure.
If the service advisor were properly trained in verbal and written communication skills, and followed a detailed SOP for collecting information from the customer and providing them to the technician, it would result in fewer comebacks.
Scheduling & Dispatching Work
We’ve found that the majority of service advisors significantly overbook their shops (aka: exceed technician capacity) on a consistent basis. This leads to more comebacks, gross inefficiencies, burned-out employees, low customer satisfaction, and reduced profits. Service advisors must master balancing customer demand (the number of vehicles) with shop capacity (technician billable hours), in order to maximize shop production. Proper scheduling leads directly to a happier staff, increased customer satisfaction, and a better bottom line.
Dispatching of work to technicians needs to be fair, but at the same time, must maximize the space, equipment, inventory, time, and technician skills in the shop. A skilled service advisor should dispatch the work as it arrives, enabling technicians to monitor their work flow, so they can complete the work in time to get the vehicle back to the customer when promised. Make sure your service advisor is taking in work that your shop can complete efficiently and profitably.
Only the most efficient shops with highly skilled service advisors accomplish these performance levels. Those who have reached these levels of production have done so by mastering the skills discussed thus far, as well as selling vehicle inspections, scheduled maintenance services, diagnostic labor, and hours-per-repair order (HPRO), all while reaching benchmark gross profit goals. Next time, we will take a look at each of these items individually.