Recruiting and training service personnel has been a hot topic of conversation in recent years. Attracting and retaining good talent in your service department is getting harder to do in an industry that continues to have more and more crossover with other, more attractive “tech” jobs.

Similarly, dealers are struggling to attract and retain customers in an increasingly competitive market. One of the keys to customer retention is your service department. A strong relationship with your service department is what will bridge the gap between vehicle purchases.

With so much at stake, you can see why it is important to invest the time and resources to train your service staff. One way that you can turn new recruits into long-term employees is by investing in their training. A residual benefit of training your service personnel is an improved customer experience and customer retention. Both are extremely valuable to the long-term success of your dealership.  

Training Service Technicians

With the increased difficulty of attracting and retaining good service technicians, chances are your new recruits may lack experience and training. This may not be a bad thing. Look at a new recruit as a clean slate with an opportunity to mold them into the type of technician that will embody your dealership values and subscribe to your unique methods of doing business.

While it is important to keep your technicians up to date with factory and industry training standards, this is not enough. There are many aspects of new-recruit training that you can use to leverage your new recruit into a long-term, model employee.

Here are some aspects of technician training that should not be overlooked:

  1. Educate them about your dealership history and philosophy. The more they know about who you are and how you became who you are, the more vested they will be in your cause.

  2. Train them how to meet your expectations on every repair order. You will not be satisfied with their production and they will not be satisfied with their job, if you cannot spell out your processes and specific requirements for the job.

  3. Train them to ask questions. The more they seek to understand a customer and the repair, the better equipped they will be to fix the problem right the first time.

  4. Train them to communicate. A good service technician needs to be able to clearly explain the details of any repair order to the service advisor. There will also be times when the technician will need to communicate with the customer. Train them how to effectively communicate with both.

Training Service Advisors

There is a wealth of industry standards regarding technician training. There are also many resources available for training sales personnel. However, there is a dearth of standards and resources when it comes to training service advisors. service department

This is unfortunate, as the service advisor is the public face of your service department, and an integral player in the game of customer retention. Just as you would not throw an untrained technician onto a repair, you should not throw an untrained service advisor onto the service drive to handle valuable customers.

Customers in your service drive are often there against their will. Their car broke down, or the oil change light came on during a busy day. Either way, you need to train your service advisors to handle this fast-paced environment and often frustrated individuals they will encounter.

Here are some aspects of service advisor training that should not be overlooked:

  1. As with technicians, educate them about your dealership history and philosophy. You need your service advisors to be strong brand advocates if you expect them to retain customers for you.

  2. Train advisors how to use your DMS. This may seem obvious, but too often employees are thrown into the fire without an understanding of basic DMS functions. This can become very frustrating for customers very quickly. This can also be very frustrating for your new hire.

  3. Train advisors how to communicate with customers. Set the expectation for them on how to deal with upset customers and train them to listen and solve problems.

Any efforts you put in at the beginning for a new recruit will likely pay huge dividends down the road. Make sure you are setting them up for success, and follow up with support and resources to help them get the job done. This will promote happy, long-term employees who can, in turn, take care of happy long-term customers.

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