In 1965 Gordon Moore, co-founder of Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel, projected that the processing power of integrated circuits doubles about every two years, thus advancing technology at a pace that keeping up with would be hard. The observation is called ‘Moore’s Law’ and in every area of technology the rapid pace of advancement has validated his projection year after year.

In dealership service departments today, the amount of technology and software available to enhance productivity, increase revenue and build customer retention is expanding rapidly.  Whether we are talking about through the DMS or adding additional processes such as electronic MPI’s and appointment software, staying abreast of all the training that is required to keep up and the multi-tasking ability that is required of a service advisor today is daunting to say the least.

Most advisors are now in need of two monitors to keep up with all the different functions required to meet the expectations of different processes like write up, successful communication and capturing future business. They must have the DMS open, the manufacturers site, texting applications, the electronic multi-point inspection and the list goes on.  This is an incredible amount of operations to keep up with minute by minute, yet all are necessary to handle most service jobs efficiently.

In the midst of all this bouncing from screen to screen to make sure they have covered all bases with every job in the shop, the phone rings and the advisor must recognize the name and the number on the display in order to sound informed and intelligent when answering the call.

Pop-up World and Workforce

I was in a meeting recently with Dan Winters, service manager of Erhard BMW in Farmington Hills, MI., just outside the Motor City.  He and I were discussing service advisors and time management when he made a reference to today’s Pop Up Society and the amount of work needed to keep staff focused.  The stress of working in such a fast pace environment requires that you plan your day complete with interruptions.

In many cases, successful service advisors are giving their personal mobile phone number to customers and loading the texting software app on to their mobile device to enhance the selling process by sending pictures and videos to customers.  This becomes yet another POP-UP in the day of processes to keep up with if you are going to stay on top of things.

Time management for service advisors isn’t just about keeping them at their desks anymore. They are pulled throughout the day by instant technical interruptions that can come at any time without notice. The service advisor is concentrating on booking all charges on an extended warranty claim and his computer beeps. It’s a text from a customer, he looks at his DMS daily log, returns the communication to the customer. The phone rings, he answers and learns that a SOP didn’t make the UPS delivery, he goes back to his invoicing. Two emails come in, while reading them his mobile phone beeps, it’s a technician texting that he is pulling the transmission job back into his bay. This scenario sounds familiar I am sure and it is the very definition of their POP-UP type of day.

Stress Burn-Out

There is a turn over trend in this country in the service advisor role, and no wonder.  Managers have associated this with Millennials’ lack of loyalties and the younger generations steering away from commission-type employment. Yet I believe the enormous stress this type of crisis work environment has on most service advisors has a direct correlation to the quick burn-out rate that is sabotaging our dealership service departments today.  If we do not find ways to deal with these issues directly related to our hi-tech culture, it is very likely that finding new people willing to make a career in the field of automotive service will become more difficult than it is now.

Service managers, do not assume that the stress burn-out is only about the advisor’s lack of will or laziness. I implore you to look deeper and really analyze your service advisor’s processes.  Sometimes less is more. Find ways to streamline your processes and let software handle more of the work wherever possible. Spend time in the service area side by side with your advisors and be observant of repetitious behaviors and constant interruptions and develop more efficient and less stressful technology timelines.

Technology and software programs are needed to simplify and create a more seamless work environment.  This also impacts those who answer the phones who are not service advisors like receptionists or service BDC reps.  The more they can handle customer situations effectively before passing calls on to the advisors the better off the whole service environment will be and the more it will impact customer satisfaction.

It is not likely that the problems of living in our Pop-Up society will make the service advisors job less complicated and easier to handle overnight.  However, as service people we are problem solvers by nature. If we put our heads together we can find ways to tackle the problems as they exist in our dealerships.  Finding the right technologies and software that will help solve these issues and focusing on efficient time management may be the best way to handle things for the moment.  Hopefully those committed to changing future service technology will keep designing based on Less is More.

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