There has been a disturbance in the Force. Evil surrounds you, but where is it coming from? Was that last unreasonable customer really a Sith Lord in hiding, cloaking himself from your Jedi powers? Probably not. However, the wary Service Advisor must be ever vigilant.

And so we begin our journey down the path to become a Jedi Master Service Advisor. A Chinese proverb says “The longest journey begins with the first step.” As an instructor in the Navy, our first step was to always begin a class by defining terms to ensure everyone has the same understanding. According to a New York Times article dated the 25th May, 2011, the word run has “no fewer than 645 meanings.”

What then is a Service Advisor? The obvious definition would be “One who advises concerning service.” There are also various other terms for the position but for our needs, we will refer to them all as Service Advisor. Some of these other terms are: Service Advisor, Ticket Writer, Service Sales, and Service Consultant (the ASE description).

So which are you? Titles tend to define our way of determining who and what we are. No matter which title is given to you by the facility you work at, you need to define yourself in your own mind. Personally, I don’t like the idea of “selling” service. To me, that involves persuading a customer to buy something they may or may not really need. Advising or consulting deals while giving a customer the information they need to make an informed decision. This may be a subtle distinction, but it can determine how you approach the method of advising your customers.

Most shops today pay their advisors based on total sales. While I agree that everyone should be paid according to what they produce, this type of pay structure pressures the advisor to “sell” in order to get a decent paycheck. It has been my experience that properly presenting items that are actually NEEDED will be plenty to keep a shop busy. There are enough “broken” cars out there to keep us all busy.

Another little tidbit left over from my Navy days is the 7 P’s. There, it stood for Proper Prior Planning Prevents Pretty Poor Performance. (Edited for those with sensitivities). For our purposes here, the 7 P’s are: Purpose, Person, Phone, Process, PMI, Perception, and Payback.

  • The Purpose – What is the real PURPOSE of the Service Advisor? Why are you here? What are your responsibilities? How do you “make it happen” at your shop?
  • The Person – What kind of person are you? Is your personality really suited for this position? Do you get “warm fuzzies” from knowing you do a great service for your customer or is it just a paycheck? Don’t become your own worst enemy.
  • The Phone – The phone is the umbilical cord of the shop. From making appointments to advising our customers to the follow up call to make sure the customer is happy and schedule the next appointment. Phone skills are a necessity. We’ll be discussing phone etiquette and how to diffuse potential explosions over the phone. There is a right way and a wrong way to talk to people whether on the phone or in person.
  • The Process – The Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. The process covers everything from accepting the keys to calling back after the service. We will look at pointers and suggestions for as smooth an operation as possible. This will be the longest and most in-depth part of the journey.
  • The PMI – Preventive Maintenance Inspections seem to be the hardest thing to get technicians to do. They would rather knock out ball joints all day than perform a 15 minute PMI inspection that will make the shop more productive and profitable and create happier customers. The secret is in the presentation. If you are not a born again believer in the PMI, hopefully you will be after this segment.
  • The Perception – Do your customers perceive you as a hero or a zero? Customer perception is everything. You could be the most amazing repair facility ever, but if your customer feels like they got “ripped off”, then good luck changing their minds! Greasy fingerprints on the steering wheel or shoe prints in the carpet are great ways to destroy a customer’s confidence.
  • And finally, The Payback – What’s In-it For Me? Ok, so you’ve stayed the course and persevered through it all, now what?

If you can and will implement all the steps, your life WILL be easier. Will it be totally painless? No. There will always be “those” days when fry cook at McDonalds looks like an option.

The life of a Jedi is not an easy one, but with training and dedication, you too can become a Master. May the Force be with you.


Read the previous article here

Article By: Bruce McDowell

Bruce is currently a Service Advisor for Garber Diesel Service Truck & Trailer Service Center

Bruce’s credentials include: AMAM through AMI, ASE Certified Service Advisor, Ford Motor Company – Master Service Manager, Master Service Advisor, Master Parts Manager, Master Warranty Administrator plus 2 Management Degrees, Stationary Engineer License, and Retired Navy. And above all… modest.