By Bob Cooper
Far too many shop owners hire service advisors who they feel are good at what they do, and then prefer to “get out of their way and let them do their thing.” Unfortunately, that’s a mistake. Now I am not suggesting that you need to micromanage your advisors, or any of your employees. However, over the years I have employed many of the top advisors in America, and through our service advisor training courses I have had the opportunity to meet hundreds of the industry superstars, so I can tell you from first-hand experience that if you want to turn your advisors into superstars, then it’s no different from grooming world class racehorses. They unquestionably need proper care and attention. So here are some tips that you can use as a guide to help you turn your advisors into superstars.
1. Make sure you have the right people on your team. When it comes to service advisors, as with all of your employees, you need to look for attitude, aptitude and ethics. If they are missing any of the three, you and your company are going to struggle. You also need to make sure that they have the natural talent to sell. Please don’t confuse talent with skill, which is a learned behavior. Talent is the natural ability to do things exceptionally well. The talents I look for in service advisors are the natural ability to engage people in a conversation, quick-wittedness, and a natural smile. Provide people who have these talents with the training and guidance they need to develop the necessary skills, and they can take you and your business right to the top.
2. Set clear expectations. Obviously you need to have clearly defined monthly performance goals, but beyond that, you need to break those goals down into weekly and daily sales and car count goals. This way your service advisors will know exactly what they need to accomplish by the end of the day in order to view their performance as a success. As with managing any employee, you also need to have clearly defined minimum levels of acceptable performance in place, with deadlines.
3. For advisors to excel, they need to work in an environment that has clearly defined inspection processes in place. These processes should include vehicle inspection procedures, and the documentation of all discoveries. Your advisors should also be required to accurately estimate all of the discovered services, and fully disclose all discoveries to your customers. Any failure in this regard will cost you in lost automotive repair sales, vehicle failures, and ultimately, in damage to the reputation of your business. This is why clearly defined inspection processes are an absolute must.
4. Make sure that you are providing your advisors with the right tools. They need a robust repair shop management software program, feature-rich warranties that they can use as sales tools, point-of-sale items they can use to get your customers visually involved (such as fluid samples), and third party financing options. They also need techs that can produce, daily goal sheets to track their performance throughout the day, and digital voice recorders so they can critique their own sales presentations. In addition, they need to have quick-reference guides that list the benefits of your most common services. This way, your advisors can review the guide prior to presenting their recommendations to your customers. For example, under the “maintenance” heading you would list: protects the vehicle warranty, prevents costly breakdowns, maximizes fuel economy, maximizes the resale value of the vehicle, etc.
5. Service advisors need to have their performances monitored and measured, and they need consistent feedback. At Elite we recommend that owners (or managers) perform a repair order review with their advisors at least once a week. The purpose of the review should be to analyze the declined sales, and have a dialogue about what could have been done differently to close the sales. As a manager, you should also use this time as an opportunity to reinforce your commitment to ethics and customer satisfaction.
6. As is true of all professionals, advisors need ongoing training. In order to stay at the top of their game, they should be sharpening their skills with a sales course at least once a year.
Most importantly, as a shop owner (or manager) you need to make a point of feeding the hearts of your service advisors. By catching them doing things right and providing them with the appropriate praise and recognition, you will be creating happier advisors who are more determined to help you and your company reach your goals.
Since 1990, Bob Cooper has been the president of Elite (www.EliteWorldwide.com), a company that strives to help shop owners reach their goals and live happier lives, while elevating the industry at the same time. The company offers one-on-one coaching from the industry’s top shop owners, service advisor training, peer groups, along with sales, marketing and shop management courses.
By Bob Cooper