What makes a superstar service advisor?

service advisor

The retail automotive industry has traditionally relied on the practice of hiring people with previous experience in both the sales and service departments.  Though that makes sense at first glance, often we find ourselves hiring some other dealers’ poor performer, underachiever or someone who just can’t manage to show up to work on schedule, if they show up at all.

Key Ingredients for a Superstar

I am not standing in judgment of whether your service advisors are superstars or not.  My purpose in this article is to present some of the key ingredients that make for a superstar advisor; some of which can be hiring guidelines and some are training tips.

When hiring new advisors, stop spending so much time looking for one that has experience in your DMS or your manufacturer.  I understand that if they are experienced in your Dealership Management System and their previous Dealer matched your franchise, their factory and software training will be more current.

However, if they have spent years at the previous dealership having a terrible attitude, a poor sales closing percentage, discounting to sell, and a CSI score in the red zone, the time and training required to right that ship will involve more than a little DMS training.  Not only are these traits that you might not be able to correct, they will cost you dearly in lost sales and lost customers.

Why not hire an advisor that exudes qualities like dependability, compassion, kindness, humor and enthusiasm?  These are character assets that should be priorities when hiring someone as important as a service advisor. Sales skills, time management and the administrative aspect of the job are things that can easily be trained and developed in someone of good character.

Superstar: In Control at All Times

Superstar advisors maintain control of everything around them at all times. They manage the customer by guiding them through processes that assure them of a well stated repair order, obtaining all the pertinent information such as vehicle and customer contact info.  They consistently perform a vehicle walk around with the customer to assure that nothing is missed.

They are skilled at slowing down an anxious or rushed customer, yet they can calmly defuse one who is agitated or defensive when necessary. They are genuinely apologetic and understand that at times they must be bold when adhering to strict processes and guidelines that must be followed.

Superstar advisors know that quality processes in a service operation raise productivity, keep technicians efficient and, ultimately, work to produce happy customers. They understand that these processes are there to keep them out of trouble with the customer and promote a good reputation in the community for their dealership.

This kind of person is not afraid of the sales process.  They are confident in their sales abilities and eager to advance their knowledge and skill level to produce higher numbers and more income for themselves and their department. They are proactive in researching incoming appointments for customer information, previously declined repairs and maintenance, and they spend the necessary time it takes with each customer to allow them to capitalize on every opportunity.  This includes discussing the customers future wants and needs, helping them understand new vehicle technologies, or just offering a smile when a customer is frustrated with a vehicle concern.

Hello Mr. or Ms. Average

An average advisor finds fault with customers that complain or decline their recommendations.  They are convinced that the only thing customers care about is price.  Close to 80 percent of service advisors come to the dealership every day to just survive, to earn a check or to just get through the day. Superstars come to work every day seeking to be truly successful.

The above average advisor is prepared to handle the obstacles that come along with any sales scenario. They trust the technician’s recommendations and know how to explain the concern and the proposed resolution to the customer in detail.  They can describe exactly what is needed, why or how the problem occurred and any vehicle deficiency that might surface if the repair isn’t completed.

Management? No Thanks!

Managers, don’t be discouraged if a superstar service advisor in your store has no desire to move into management. Great advisors, though driven toward success, don’t always view it as an opportunity to move up the ladder.  Too often Managers or Dealers promote advisors into management positions without taking into consideration they might be promoting this person beyond their capabilities.  This is referred to as the Peter Principal, and it is destructive for all parties involved.

Success has different definitions for everyone, be sure you really know the desires of the staff in your care and let them find the level that works best for them and produces the best results for your customers and your department.  This is what makes superstar advisors, and it is what keeps them at your dealership doing a great job for your customers and producing a fulfilling career for themselves in the process.