The Well-Trained, Well-Equipped Service Advisor
The vast majority of service advisors at independent shops are both ill-equipped and poorly trained. That can severely limit a shop’s chances of successfully competing in today’s marketplace.
New-car dealerships have pulled out all the stops to acquire and retain the service business for the the vehicles they sell. They’re also repairing and servicing other makes in a quest to obtain new customers for future new-vehicle purchases.
The specialty repair/service franchises, chains, independents, and most all other segments of the industry are expanding their products and services in hopes of capturing additional new business. While the entire service and repair market is getting larger, each business’ individual slice of the pie may be getting smaller — that’s why it’s incredibly important to have excellent service advisors working for you, so that you can make your business the best it can be.
The Role of the Service Advisor
It used to be that customers would mainly go to a shop with problems requiring immediate attention and, at times, with a list of items they wanted attended to. The person behind the counter — often the owner — received the customer and vehicle by writing down the customer’s complaint. There wasn’t really any sort of selling involved — it was more like just taking the customer’s order.
Today, it’s a completely different process. Customers now are better-educated, often having “diagnosed” the problems with their car online before stepping into a shop. They also will shop around to various repair shops before choosing one, especially for non-emergency repairs. Thus, the “order-taking” of the past has evolved into a process of the individual behind the counter being an advisor to the customer and selling the shop’s products and services in a very competitive sales environment. In addition to all the other demands of today’s customers, those customers also want to feel confident about where they leave their vehicles.
Unfortunately, for a lot of shops, the majority of the people working behind the counter as service advisors — either the owner or someone they have hired — come into the job unskilled and untrained.
Customers today are often more selective and better negotiators, so professional service advisors need to be well-trained in sales, customer service, workflows, employee relations, and be familiar with using modern technology, as they pertain to their position.
Service advisors require a great deal of employer support, exposure to new methodology and ideas, and, of course, training. Any employer who cannot or will not provide this kind of support will likely not be able to acquire, develop, or retain a professional service advisor.
Shop Management Systems
Service Advisors should have fast typing speeds, and be equipped with a computer that’s no more than two years old. That computer should have a shop management system, which at the very least creates invoices, tracks parts and labor inventories, has a useful customer database, and has estimating and online cataloging capabilities. Obviously, the service advisor should be well-trained in how to use this system.
In addition, many shops utilize tablets or phones to take pictures, send them to customers, hail ride-shares for customers, etc, and service advisors should be well-versed in using this technology.
The best service advisors are organized individuals who like working with people. They are well-intentioned and work very hard to please customers, their coworkers, and their employee. That said, the vast majority of the people working as services advisors possess little or no sales skills.
Selling is a learned process made up of several skills, including listening, interviewing, presenting options, and closing. These, along with many more required to fulfill the position of a professional service advisor, are learned skills.
How do you intend to compete with other shops who have invested in the development of highly-trained service advisors?
Obtaining and implementing the useful skills mentioned in this article takes a great deal of training, focus, determination, and practice on the part of the service advisor. Many service advisors find the sales process difficult to practice on their customers.
For that reason, among many others, we highly recommend enrolling your service advisor into our “Service Advisor Skills” and “Advanced Selling Skills for the Service Advisor” courses, which cover all aspects of the sales transaction, as well as other important processes. This training will be instrumental in helping your shop be successful in today’s highly competitive environment.
Call us at 800-755-0988 to learn more and enroll today!