The service department front line is a pivotal position in the dealership. Staff there have the ability to create loyal customers or repel your clientele swiftly. Each service advisor generates several times the annual income of a sales consultant, yet often receives little to no training before being expected to work the desk proficiently.
Like any professional role, a new service advisor will not only benefit greatly from training on a personal level, but will add exceptional value to the dealership. While the career path doesn’t carry requirements for formal training, both preparative courses and on-the-job training will turn a new service advisor into a productive, customer-focused front-line service employee and future leader.
While there’s no minimum standard from manufacturers or dealer groups for a new service advisor, it’s wise to set them at the dealership level. An ideal baseline for new service advisors is ASE Service Consultant Training. The program provides structured online learning for customer relations, sales skills, shop operations, and vehicle technical knowledge.
A basic understanding of a vehicle’s workings helps immensely for communicating issues with the clients they see daily. As you see fit, have the new advisor spend time shadowing a technician or foreman in the shop to add to their mechanical knowledge base.
Once a new consultant has the core principles in place, it’s time to start them out slowly in the service drive. Have them learn the walkaround process first, which reinforces their mechanical knowledge while introducing them to customer interactions for the first time. Ensure walkarounds are performed with the customer, acquainting the new consultant with the customer introduction at the same time.
Nothing frustrates a customer quite like the advisor who’s unable to navigate the DMS smoothly. The new service advisor should acquaint themselves with the DMS system through the provided materials. Whether it’s CDK Global, Reynolds & Reynolds, or another DMS system, service-specific programs are developed to teach new service advisors how to use their software.
Shadow a Senior Service Advisor
Even with the courses under their belt, your dealership’s processes will be markedly different. Before writing work orders individually, a new service advisor should spend several weeks paired with a senior service advisor. This teaches communication and sales skills, reinforces the core principles of customer interactions, and lets them put their fingers on the keyboard to write work orders under a watchful eye.
Junior Service Advisor
It should take six to eight weeks to graduate from a new hire to a junior service advisor. This is when the new advisor can work individually, writing up work orders and following them through the queue to completion, while reporting to their senior service advisor, supervisor, or manager daily. It’s critical to have an overseer who the junior advisor can report to and ask questions of openly. For no less than six months should a new service advisor remain in a junior role or risk the development of bad habits.
Full-Fledged Service Advisor
Within a year, a new service advisor should be expected to become as efficient as other senior service advisors, or close to it. Routinely review their performance with them, offering constructive criticism and offering additional resources or training to further develop their skills.
Much more goes into learning the position for a new service advisor including the understanding of CSI surveys, maintenance schedules, internal communications, shop dispatching, estimating, shuttle scheduling, loaner cars, and the such. All of these details must be taught to a new service advisor but are quite individual to the manufacturer or dealership structure.
The true cost of training a new employee is unknown, but projected to be in excess of $50,000 in costs and unrealized profit. Implementing proper training processes for new service advisors can help reduce the cost of onboarding. It can also help you retain your staff better to avoid repeating the process unnecessarily anytime soon.