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How to Be a Great Service Advisor

Updated: Oct 3, 2022

I often have people ask me about what makes a great service advisor. I have met and trained many a successful service advisor and they come in all shapes and sizes, but they have a few things in common.

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What makes a great service advisor?

As I stated in the last blog that I wrote, confidence in the product, team, pricing, and yourself seems to be one of the main ingredients for success. People that have a conscience and care about right and wrong appear to have a difficult time selling things that they do not believe in or things they don’t believe will be making a difference. Having a well-run operation where the team has the ability to be efficient as well as having knowledgeable people on the team that trust each other improves the odds of selling and can make a good salesperson great.

Some people would argue that you need someone that has real empathy for the customer and really cares if the work is done properly and in a timely manner to keep the customer happy. It seems that many customers today care more about when they can get their vehicle back than what it costs to do the work. At least, that was (and is) my experience with customers at my shops. Perhaps this is due to marketing a specific customer that cares less about cost and more about quality and timeliness, which gives me a skewed perspective and, I believe, an advantage over a business that does not consciously create their customer base.

A great service advisor knows the difference between empathy and caring.

I think empathy and caring are two things that should be thought of separately. First, do I need real empathy for the customer? I am not sure this is necessary as long as the customer feels that you care about them and their vehicle. In my later years at the counter and as I continue to get older, the empathy for the customer seems to be getting more and more difficult to come by. I can sell and make the customer feel like they are important - in part because I really do care about them being successful, and I live for fixing the vehicle and making customers happy – but the true empathy may be lacking. Perhaps this is because I have had so many excuses given to me and heard so many trivial problems that seem to overcome the customers, that it has all become white noise.

Second, this doesn’t mean that I do not care about the customer. I know that I care about doing the right thing, doing the job right, and having a positive outcome. This drives me and helps me show customers that I care and that I know what I am doing.I would also add that the confidence I have in myself, my product, and what I believe, helps me appear to the customer as a professional that they can listen to and trust. We are the best at what we do and I believe it.

A great service advisor hates losing.

I would add that the best service advisors are not timid and have a very difficult time losing. It is not that they don’t like to lose, it is that they HATE to lose, and they see selling as a competition. Some people might misinterpret this as having a winner and a loser, but I never saw it that way. I always felt that if I didn’t persuade customers to take care of their vehicle then we were both losers.

Great service advisors really care about taking care of the vehicle and are willing to go up to bat and potentially have a customer dislike them in order to help the customer understand the value of maintaining and repairing their vehicle.

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A great service advisor believes that they are helping.

I feel that I am a pretty moral person and as such I have had the opportunity and the necessity of evaluating what I am selling and why I am selling it. I truly believe that fixing the vehicle is the best option for 99% of my customers and in almost all cases the least expensive option they have. If I really believe this, I care, and I want to win, then I am more likely to disregard the first time they say no, and spend more effort convincing them that doing the work is to their advantage.

Great service advisors do not give up the first time the customer tells them no, especially when they believe in their product and they believe that fixing and maintaining the vehicle is the right thing to do.

There are too many order takers at service counters, and they do not know how to advise the customer or overcome their objections and make the sale. Many of the people at service counters have had little or no training in selling, do not have self-confidence, or have no confidence in their product or team to overcome objections. They would have a difficult time selling anything other than the broken component even if their lives depended on it.

A great service advisor takes responsibility for their education.

This may not be their fault because it is up to the management of the company to supply the tools for the employees to be successful, which includes training specific to what they are being asked to do. Are you training the most important person – the face of your company to your customers – properly, consistently, and continually?

However, it is imperative that the blame for not training is not placed only on the management of the company because the employee has some responsibility to get the tools, training, education, and whatever else they need to be successful in their position. They are at fault if they wait for the company to get it done for them. Throughout my career, I have sought out education and quality training along the way, often paying for it myself, because I knew that it would give me an advantage and help me become great at what I do. It has also paid off in spades.

Are you seeking out good education? There are too many places where good education is available to make an excuse that you can’t find it or you don’t have the time. Blogs, books, podcasts, online training, and in-person training (like our Advisor Performance Groups) to name a few. Great service advisors study and learn all the time without making excuses.

A great service advisor does what it takes to get things done.

I would add that great service advisors also get the job done, whatever it takes, and do not wait around for others to do the job for them. It makes them a bit difficult to manage but increases the odds that they are successful.

So what make a great service advisor? A person at the counter that wants to take care of their customers’ vehicles and believes in what they do, in themselves, their people, and their product. This person hates to lose and is more likely to go a little overboard in helping the customer understand what they need and why they need it and does not take the first “no” or even the second “no”. Not because they don’t want to upset the customer, but because they believe the vehicle needs to be maintained. They truly believe that everyone wins when the vehicle is in great condition and well maintained. That’s what’s at the core of a master service advisor.

There are other ways to increase the odds of a successful service advisor. Things like bringing in customers that can afford your services and that understand why taking care of their vehicle is important. They also understand how they benefit from this maintenance and make it that much easier for a service advisor to be successful. I’ll be diving into this in my next blog, out in a few weeks.

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