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There is no shortage of bad online reviews, excruciating customer tales, and complaints to deal with about the service department. It’s easy to pass off one or two as keyboard warriors or ‘e-thugs’. But the fact is that front-line service staff aren’t perfect. They never will be.
It’s been drilled home about ‘Service Advisor 101’ – the basic tools service advisors need in their toolkit to do their job. Service Advisor 101 includes customer service skills, performing a vehicle walkaround (WITH) the customer, writing a repair order, selling an estimate, and cashing out the customer. These are the essential tools someone needs to do the job.
However, Service Advisor 101 only includes skills that keep your head above water. To swim powerfully in the automotive industry current, there’s another level of training required. It’s one that, sadly, many advisors never aspire to and are never pushed to pursue.
In a nutshell, it’s the constant pursuit of improvement towards excellence. Service advisors should be coached to pursue more than just the status quo. It’s about doing better for yourself and, in turn, providing a higher level of service to the customers you deal with daily.
As I mentioned, it’s about doing more than keeping your head above water. The 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang don’t have swimming as an event, but there is speedskating, skiing, and dozens of other sports. Each requires a daily commitment to training hard, honing skills, and developing a winning mindset.
What you’ll notice is that world-class athletes don’t always train within their sport. Hockey players spend hours in the gym, building muscle mass in all the right areas to optimize their on-ice performance. Ski jumpers spend much of their time working on reactionary skills and mental focus so they’ll stay composed on the hill.
The same goes for the best service advisors. They need time away from their desk on a regular basis – monthly, quarterly, or annually – so they can hone their skills from the beer league to major league.
There aren’t many employees who are content to spend the rest of their career in the same position. It’s hard to accept as a manager or employer, but you need to prepare your staff for the next thing in their journey. If you’re lucky, they want to move up in the chain of command and you have the responsibility to prepare them for it.
Service Advisor Training 102 involves training service advisors in aspects of the industry they don’t see on a normal basis. It’s management-type duties like reading and interpreting the daily DOC report, overseeing a small number of employees, or sitting in on management meetings. You’ll find service advisors involved in this type of atmosphere develop a sense for the business and are better prepared when the opportunity arises to take on a management role.
A service advisor with 101 training can write a work order saying, “CHECK AND REPORT BLUETOOTH WILL NOT PAIR AS PER CUSTOMER”. That’s an acceptable way to write the concern on a work order, and it’s probably not going to bring the heat on the advisor.
Service Advisor Training 102 involves getting the team member involved in more technical knowledge. They complete all the OEM training programs online that are available for their position. Infotainment systems, maintenance requirements, mechanical understanding – it all gives an advisor next-level abilities to be the best advisor they can be.
So, instead of writing a work order about Bluetooth not pairing, the advisor says, ”Jane, let’s go to your car. You can show me what you mean… Oh, I see. Jane, that’s an easy mistake to make. If you do this instead, it should pair for you without a problem. Let’s try it…There, all done! By the way, did you know your Bluetooth connection can also stream music from your phone?”
When a service advisor learns the product extremely well, they can provide a higher level of customer service.
There’s no finish line for service advisor training. It’s an ongoing process and progressive training opportunities should not only be available but encouraged!