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Tim Clay

Tim Clay Chief Revenue Officer

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Training Is a Service Department’s Best Friend

There are a lot of choices for consumers as far as where to take their vehicle for maintenance. And, while consumers are required to visit franchise dealerships for warranty and recall work, the majority of service revenue lies in regular maintenance. That is why a great and consistent customer experience is so important each and every visit. These days your dealership has to stay top of mind with your customers – and keep them happy.

I just read an interesting blog on the consumer site techfeatured.com, which reports that many service advisors are ill-equipped to advise consumers on what’s best for their vehicle. With a claimed (according to the blog) 80 percent turnover in advisors, the blog tells the story of a customer that visited a Honda dealership for their first oil change at 7,500 miles. The customer requested the tires be rotated since, per the manufacturer, that would be due at 10,000 miles, yet he wouldn’t need to come back for the next service until 15,000 miles. The service advisor simply brushed it off, telling the customer it was too early to rotate the tires. This caused the customer to become frustrated as he was simply trying to ensure that he maintained his vehicle per the manufacturer’s scheduled maintenance.

It doesn’t matter who was right or wrong, really. Perhaps the vehicle could go 7,500 more miles without a tire rotation – 5,000 more than the manufacturer recommended. And it probably could for a vehicle that new. The failure here resides in the service advisor’s inability to advise and communicate with the customer in a way that made the customer feel understood. The customer needed to be able to trust what the service advisor had to offer in terms of advice. By brushing the customer off, it simply left the customer confused and, potentially, untrusting of the advisor and, by default, the dealership.

Hey, I know that a service advisor has one of the busiest jobs on the planet and it is tough managing the time they can take with each customer. However, it would not have taken much time to simply explain tire tread along with wear and tear, visually inspect the tires and educate the customer.

The customer should be able to explain their vehicle’s problems in layman’s terms and the advisor should be able to know the questions to ask to get the “who, what, where and when” information out of the customer to properly document the repair order for the technician.

Can all of your advisors do that? Consider doing a mystery shop to see how your advisors do. And they perhaps some training is in order.

Maddy Low

I agree with this 100%! Even working in the industry I'm always worried when I have to take my car to get something simple like an oil change, I'm constantly wondering if they're going to listen to me or try and take me for a ride. Training could help this so much! 

Tim Clay

That's exactly right, Maddy! The perception by many consumers is that dealership service departments are out to fleece them when many are actually trying to help them maintain their vehicle for optimal efficiency. Training techs and service advisors to educate consumers rather than simply TELL them would go a long way to helping a consumer understand WHY their vehicle needs a service and WHAT problem it resolves. Then, value and trust is built, and a consumer is more likely to make an educated decision rather than simply think the dealer is "out to get them" which is often not the case at all.

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