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Service Advisor- Male or Female


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Let's start off by stating I am not a sexist, on the contrary I'd love to find the "right" female service writer.

 

Now my story-

Last year I hired a female service writer that had NO experience in the automotive field, I started her from scratch hoping she wouldn't bring any "bad habits" from other shops. I set up a training ramp program for her, first I had her do the BG webiners. . Then for 3 months she didn't sell any work, she strictly build estimates, had her go out after every inspection and figure out what the problem was, and what, why it needed to be fixed. How the system works, and how it'll benifit the customer. She also went thru the ATI service writer classes. She's been with me for a lilttle over a year now, but I can see the frustration, she has a very hard time selling work, she's nervous and she use "ummm" a lot when she's talking to the customers.

 

We role play calls before she calls the customer, but when she makes the call she freezes. I also have some phone lines that are on a recorded line and she seems to do ok on getting the customer to come in, I'll give her credit for that.

 

The issues-

She's not motivated, sits on her bottom, I have to remind her for a lot of things, doesn't get the feel for shop flow, doesn't want to go out and chat with the techs on what the required repairs are. She's on her phone to much, or surfing the web, and she makes next to nothing in sales. If I am gone the shop suffers. The hard part she's family, how do I get rid of her to

Leave??? In a nice way?? Or maybe I'm not a good teacher???

 

So my question is, has anyone had any luck with a female writer or this industry going to stay male dominate.

Any input would be greatly appreciated.

Edited by Chuy Reyna
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Chuy,

I've been down this road. I think the blank canvas of a service advisor with no previous experience can be a great thing. They do not bring any bad habits to the job, and that is a big plus.

 

It sounds like you are doing a great job of providing the training and investing in someone who is not motivated. Motivation can not be taught, but it can be encouraged. Im guessing this individual is not giving you 100%. After a year with little success, she still has time to sit around, surf the net and hang on the phone? unacceptable !!

 

I would recommend having a heart to heart with her, explain your concerns in detail and exactly what progress is required by setting some benchmarks, for example a closing rate goal, a per vehicle dollar goal with correct g.p. percent needed to prevent her from giving the work away. Give her a daily chore list, starting at opening the office, 10AM, update all customers, track all incoming calls, etc. Give her a detailed to do everyday list, since she needs it. Then also consder changing her pay plan from a livable guarantee that she must be on, to a small base pay complimented by a graduated incentive pay plan. This will ger her to do one of two things, 1. get with the program and apply herself, or 2. she will in quit and find a job that fits her "style".

 

It's so expensive to hire & fire, so it is well worth saving her. She needs to understand you can not continue to run your shop like this, and you and more than willing to help her any way you possibly can.

 

Finally, follow thru with what you tell her. This will get the process moving, and all will be better off for it, your shop, employees, your customers and her as well.

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In my two shops, I have two female SWs who are stars. One came from the dealer world, the other worked for the local AAA chain. They have put up with us bringing a lot of change and new processes to their world. I think they would say they have grown and improved as a result. Each has a young female assistant whom they mentor and it's great to see the interaction. The young folks are much more open to new processes and the senior folks take pride in passing down knowledge. Female customers love to find that they don't have to be intimidated by a grumpy old man and male customers quickly learn they are dealing with experienced, knowledgeable advisors. I don't want to sugar coat this - there have been days with each when I wanted to tell them to take a hike and I'm sure there have been days they were ready to walk out, but overall, they have helped us achieve our goals and our customers love them.

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This proves the theory that we should all be recruiting all the time. When you suspect that you have a "square peg in a round hole" problem is when you should start looking for new candidates. Not saying this is what I do. I'm reminding myself.

Business is like fishing. You got to keep your baited hook in the water for employees and customers at all times.

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This will not affect how I pick my new advisor. I have a list of potential advisors, I always have a active ad for techs and advisors.. I just feel like I need to step in, bring the shop moral back up.

 

 

I miss my customers, and the rush of when I sell a big ticket! I'll start interviewing soon, I'll get tired of not getting lunches real fast!!

 

 

I love the active members!! This is a really good auto shop owners forum!

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Great replies by all!

In the future, I would recommend having a "prospective new advisor" male or female sell some air filters, fluid changes, etc. to see if they can get "comfortable" selling.

 

Richard, That's a great idea, but I tired that. Trust me I've talked to many shop owners about this, I didn't want all this training, uniforms, etc, relationships she built with customers to go down the drain. I truly now believe the "selling high" has to be in you! If you don't get up and jump, and have a smile across your face when you make a great sale, then your not fit for the position.

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I have found that its not extremely important which gender the service writer is. There are indeed advantages to having a female because of the female customer base factor. The important factor here was that she had hardly any mechanical experience. I agree with not having too many bad habits from previous shops. But that has nothing to do with a lack of mechanical experience. Being a female mechanic/shop owner/service writer myself I would not hire a service writer male or female that had no mechanical background. The selling part is an art....true. But if they have no clue about what they're selling they won't be successful because customers are looking for a reason NOT to BELIEVE a woman anyway due to lack of knowledge alone. If I had my choice I'd choose a female only because they attract the female customers and amaze the male customers when they are knowledgeable. I think that if you make sure the next service writer has mechanical knowledge AND motivation you will be good to go.

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

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      It always amazes me when I hear about a technician who quits one repair shop to go work at another shop for less money. I know you have heard of this too, and you’ve probably asked yourself, “Can this be true? And Why?” The answer rests within the culture of the company. More specifically, the boss, manager, or a toxic work environment literally pushed the technician out the door.
      While money and benefits tend to attract people to a company, it won’t keep them there. When a technician begins to look over the fence for greener grass, that is usually a sign that something is wrong within the workplace. It also means that his or her heart is probably already gone. If the issue is not resolved, no amount of money will keep that technician for the long term. The heart is always the first to leave. The last thing that leaves is the technician’s toolbox.
      Shop owners: Focus more on employee retention than acquisition. This is not to say that you should not be constantly recruiting. You should. What it does means is that once you hire someone, your job isn’t over, that’s when it begins. Get to know your technicians. Build strong relationships. Have frequent one-on-ones. Engage in meaningful conversation. Find what truly motivates your technicians. You may be surprised that while money is a motivator, it’s usually not the prime motivator.
      One last thing; the cost of technician turnover can be financially devastating. It also affects shop morale. Do all you can to create a workplace where technicians feel they are respected, recognized, and know that their work contributes to the overall success of the company. This will lead to improved morale and team spirit. Remember, when you see a technician’s toolbox rolling out of the bay on its way to another shop, the heart was most likely gone long before that.
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