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5 focused strategies to bring a wayward service advisor back in line

In the automotive realm, the salespeople are superstars, capable of selling big-ticket items. In most dealerships, however, the service advisor is responsible for generating more gross profit every month than a salesperson while serving more customers. Anyone who’s spent time in the service drive with these crucial team members can understand what a grind it can be.

Suppose a service manager, fixed ops director, or GM comes across a service advisor consistently underperforming. Their CSI scores might be slipping, or their RO metrics might be consistently lower than their peers. One month might be an anomaly, but a downward performance trend usually indicates a deeper problem. 

So, how do you deal with a service advisor who isn’t living up to their potential in your store? It’s a position that’s tough to fill with experienced candidates, and the best solution is to get your advisor back into their rhythm if possible. Here are five things you can do to work toward that goal.

1. Make them feel appreciated

A service advisor deals with a lot in one day, from frustrated vehicle owners to finicky technicians and tight schedules. They’re the ones who break the unpleasant news to off-warranty drivers and need to convince them to part with their money while simultaneously achieving a positive CSI review. Can you appreciate what they do?

A change in attitude often instigates a decline in performance. Employees might not feel like management has their back or that what they do is overlooked. Sometimes a service advisor is tired and worn out, desperately needing a break. Try showing your appreciation for their hard work with a special acknowledgment that connects with their needs, whether for recognition, rest, or reward. 

2. Speak with them directly

Determining what’s caused the drop in performance should not be a guessing game. If you ask the employees face-to-face and they feel safe to share their concerns, you’ll find out exactly what’s at the heart of the issue.

Be prepared for common concerns such as job satisfaction, conflicts with co-workers, and the feeling of being burnt out. However, outside influences such as health concerns or family issues could spill over into the workplace. Once the root comes to light, you can deal with it better.

3. Ensure service advisors are paid appropriately

The value a service advisor brings to the dealership can often be overlooked since it’s not as sensational as a big sale on the showroom floor. Compared to other positions in the store, though, service advisors generate higher profits, put in longer hours, and deal with more complex things than almost anyone. 

There should never be a justifiable situation where service advisors feel they are under-compensated. They’re hard to replace, and the job is extremely challenging, especially with pay plans highly dependent on personal performance. Stay in line with – or ahead of – the going wage for the position in your area to keep your staff happy.

4. Ease the burden where possible

When the problem stems from feeling overworked daily, there’s likely a problem that needs to be addressed. It might be a case where support staff like cashiers and valets can lend a hand, or it could be that your department needs another service advisor. Dive into the goings-on and explore how you can take things off the service advisors’ plates without compromising the customer experience.

5. Find out their goals

Some successful service advisors could have higher goals that they don’t feel they have an opportunity to achieve. The service desk can feel like a trap for those who want to move into a sales position or management. 

Management should explore what the future looks like for each of their team members, especially service advisors. It’s crucial to a work environment where resignations don’t always come as an unwelcome surprise. That could mean helping them source training opportunities for management skills or simply knowing you have a year or two to find or train their replacement when they move out of the industry. When you’re helping them work toward their goals, it’s more likely they’ll continue to perform at the highest level for you in the meantime.

We all know the importance of a service advisor to customer loyalty and retention as well as the profit they generate for the store. Strive to find out why a service advisor is underperforming and help guide them back to productivity for a healthier department and dealership.

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Jason Unrau
Jason Unrau
Jason Unrau is an automotive specialist with more than 15 years of experience at the dealership level. Focusing mainly on fixed operations and the service industry, Jason’s expertise is in enhancing the customer experience and promoting a healthy, profitable service department.

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