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Jason Unrau

Jason Unrau Freelance Contributor

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How Service Advisors Can Keep Your Clients Coming Back

After an economic shutdown like the United States is just emerging from, no one really knows what to expect. In the modern era, it’s foreign territory for everyone. It’s largely assumed that for dealerships, the road to recovery will be a steady uphill climb, and the fixed operations departments will be the foundation for profitability in the meantime.

But who actually knows what the service and parts departments will be like during the recovery period? What we know is that customers are fickle. If they aren’t consistently engaged, they soon forget the reasons why they had been loyal. That’s when they start looking for somewhere to service their car that’s closer, safer, more convenient, more upscale, or any other factor.

The coronavirus pandemic recovery is going to claim some of your clients. It’s a sure thing. The question isn’t IF, but HOW MANY. Luckily, the same rings true for every other dealership, so you have an opportunity to impress select new first-time service customers defecting from other stores.

How do you keep them coming back for service? That, in large part, is accomplished at the service desk.

Be A Service Ambassador

Like it or not, service advisors, you are the face of the service department. You’re the mouthpiece, the liaison between the technician and the customer, the conduit between sales and service. You’re a brand ambassador.

Like any diplomat, expectations are high that you’ll keep yourself composed in stressful situations. No matter how many fires are burning behind you, you always smile, greet the customer warmly, and listen intently to what they need.

As a service ambassador, the relationship you build with every client is positively-charged, trustworthy, and personal. This personal touch is what customers will remember and keep them coming back.

Hit the Basics - Hard

In normal times, the basics are important. In critical times, the basics are absolutely essential. Do not give clients a reason to think about defecting to another store. In the basics, you must:

  • Accurately write the repair order with sufficient detail.
  • Discover the preferred communication method.
  • Ensure timelines are being maintained.
  • Communicate regularly with each customer.
  • Clearly explain required/recommended work, the full cost, and ask for the sale.
  • Follow up afterward to ensure customer satisfaction.

Anything less than an excellent job in the basics could increase the customer’s likelihood of looking for another shop.

Exploit the Advantages

Customer retention isn’t only about doing the basics right. All dealerships strive for that same achievement. But each dealership has unique little things they do – as do service advisors – that connect better with the customers.

For a few examples:

  • - A loyalty program for high-mileage vehicles can keep your dealership competitively priced and retain the customer-pay work. Think about a scaled discount of 10-20 percent on CP work for vehicles over 60k miles.
  • - Become small talk experts. Share photos of your pets or sports heroes, engage about their job as an essential worker. Make a note in the CRM, then recall your conversation on their next visit. You’ll blow their socks off for showing that you care.
  • - If the dealership donates to a local charity, food bank, humane society, or any other social cause, mention it! You’ll find many customers prefer to deal with companies that have a social conscience.


Retaining customers is arguably the complete purpose for a service advisor. That’s what generates revenue, receives five-star surveys, and has them coming back for their next vehicle purchase to start the lifecycle all over.


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