The Top 5 Things Killing Service Advisors

The Top 5 Things Killing Service Advisors

There are things you do every day that are slowly but surely killing you!

But before we get to that, we’ve got an interesting article on Automotive News: “Tech is a threat to service advisers,” where reporter Larry Vellequette brings up the question of whether Toyota can replace advisors with automation.

I actually think I’ve met Larry before. He mainly covers Toyota and Volkswagen for Automotive News and he’s obviously a good writer, but he doesn’t know the first thing about auto. Maybe that’s a bit too harsh but anybody who has written service or worked in a service department knows that it’s spelled service advisor with an ‘o’ at the end, not an ‘e.’ Throughout the whole article, he spells it “adviser,” which is technically not the wrong spelling, but it’s not the correct spelling from an insider’s perspective.

That aside, it’s a great article. Here’s the opening bit that I thought was pretty funny:

“Psst: Hey, service advisers. Can we talk for a second? That new co-worker in the service drive is kinda making you look bad: out there upselling every customer, pushing accessories more effectively, checking every VIN for recalls, equity mining every vehicle that comes through for sales leads. And all while processing customers in maybe a tenth of the time that you take and throwing every bit of information from each transaction immediately into the dealership management system like it’s nothing.

And the worst part? That same co-worker is doing all this without having to take breaks or complaining about long hours or needing health insurance or vacations, and this newbie is working for, let’s admit it, a tiny fraction of what you’re making.”

Now, this is something I’ve talked about before, and basically the point is that putting an iPad kiosk in front of a customer and letting them pick will get them to sell themselves more than an advisor who doesn’t ask, but that’s what happens when advisors don’t ask and aren’t consistent!

If it came down to me or Jeremy vs. automation, we’ll kick the crap out of it! There’s no way that automation is going to outperform me!

The kiosk is a novelty and there will always be a need for an advisor because what automation lacks is that personal connection. You can’t expect a machine to Pet the Dog! Well, maybe a machine can physically pet a dog but that’s a different story…

I’ve been hired to come into some meetings and add my point of view about this, and the thought process with manufacturers is that if automation ever got to the level of what advisors perform to now, it’s a huge increase in profits for the individual dealer because you take out the expense of hiring advisors. The bottom line is that basic stats say you’re reducing expenses and increasing your net.

But imagine this: I’ve been going to the same Starbucks for years, at least three times a week when I go to the gym. What if one day I walk in there and it’s just a kiosk with no personal touch? Granted, I’m a gadget guy that likes to hit buttons and the girl that’s usually there doesn’t make eye contact with me and could care less that I existed…

McDonald’s is a good example of this happening already, and their payroll load is 50% of what it normally is without an automated system in place. It’s like driverless vehicles, it’s not a question of whether it’s going to happen but when it’s going to happen. I still like the personal touch of having an advisor but it’s definitely a possibility we have to think about… at least for the sake of advisors figuring out what they can do better to avoid being replaced by a tablet.

Before I get to the main topic of today, we got some audience questions.

First off, we really do have to thank our fans, viewers, listeners for all your support. Our downloads have been up crazy and we’re probably the #1 show in automotive.

Secondly, we really love your questions. We have pre-production meetings where we go through them and it’s hard to pick some of them because they’re all so good.

Question 1: Hi Chris, I love all your videos. I would like to know: How would you go about attracting a Service Advisor for an independent shop? What are the best places to post the ads to get in front of the right people?

I left this one up to Jeremy on the show because he’s better at that than me. So a number of things when finding a service advisor for an independent shop:

First, you create a personality profile for the type of advisor you want. One of the things you could do is hit up your Facebook page and ask your customers who is the best service advisor they’ve ever dealt with.

Once you’ve got that, find out who the main player is in your town and try to attract them based on that profile. While you’re at it, you can make a list of the top five advisors you’d want to deal with. Jeremy spent over two years to build a relationship with a guy until the stars finally aligned for him to leave his dealership and take a big risk moving to an independent shop.

Other things you can do is get job postings going on Indeed and call other shops or dealerships and find out who’s good. Them you can take them out to lunch and start recruiting.

Question 2: Hey Chris I work for a Nissan dealership in San Diego, and I write around 350 to 400 RO’s a month, which is more than most if not all other advisors. I’ve noticed my ELR and Hours per RO have gone down recently. Am I writing too many RO’s?

Okay so let’s do the math here: that’s 15-20 cars a day on a 20-day working month. You’re okay keeping it at around 15 but 20 is too much. I usually find that you can do your math with, “What would I make if my hours per RO, my ELR, and whatever it is were at a sweet spot of around 12-15 cars compared to when I’m writing too many, under-delivering, and being stressed out all the time?”

Right now, you’re talking about numbers in a transaction. Are you building a relationship with these customers? Is your, as Jeremy puts it, passion bucket filled for serving your clients? Take some time to make sure it’s full because you’ll see it on your paycheck when you feel confident serving people.

Question 3: Hi Chris, just gonna start out by saying you’ve helped me a lot in the past month as a Service Advisor. I have a question for you: We have implemented a new pay structure at work, and a new appointment coordinator. Since then my numbers have really grown, but it’s put a target on my back with the other advisors. How do I keep growing and collecting customers without the other advisors getting pissy at me?

What I used to do when I was a top advisor is I would walk by the other advisors and say, “Hey, you know why I look so good? Because you look so bad.”

Obviously there’s a team effort in the drive but you need to forget about what others might think of you when you outperform them. If you’re a high performer, you’re doing things different than the low performers and it’s working! Your mindset, your actions, your attitude, and your focus are different. Don’t try to be like them because they’re not going to like you.

The key to succeeding is blazing your own path and not setting your barometer to under-performers’ feelings on things. They might not like you and they might say derogatory things but if you let them make you feel like you’re doing things wrong, they’re going to succeed in pulling you down to your level and reverting you to average.

Full steam ahead. It’s not about them, it’s all about what’s best for the customer. I remember they did so many things to mess with me when I was an advisor but I knew I was taking better care of my customers than they were while they were spending time worrying about all the wrong things.

Another thing to that– management needs to understand that if you got one top-performing advisor, you need to surround them with a couple more high-performing advisors because, if you don’t, the under-performers are going to win by pulling that lone top performer down with them.

Top performers also tend to do things that cause customers to gravitate towards them. That’s how you future proof your career when all the under-performers are replaced with kiosks…

Lastly, we move onto:

Top 5 Things Killing Service Advisors

Yes, killing them. Not slowing them down. Not making them uncomfortable. Not hurting them when they pee.

Killing them.

  1. Eating at their desk

A lot of people including Jeremy might think: wait a minute… why not?! It’s a time saver!

That’s not wrong but think about what people eat when they’re given 30 minutes for lunch. It’s usually pizza… or a double cheeseburger…

Those are the meals working people naturally go out to eat when they’re pressed for time but you can avoid that by planning ahead, maybe by packing lunch. If you eat right, you’ll have more energy, you’ll feel better, and you’ll sell more!

  1. Not working out.

You got to start working out in the morning, too. If you eat better and start the day with some cardio or weights, your mind will be 10 times more clear and you’ll start the day with good vibes. Read the book Body for Life if you want some great workouts.

Most advisors are going to say, “Well, I don’t have time!”

Make time! We all have the same amount of time!

  1. Failing to create a morning ritual.

Here’s how my morning would go from the time I wake up when I was an advisor:

My morning ritual starts with brushing my teeth.

Then, I meditate…

… I work out…

… I go to work. 45 minutes to an hour early.

Jeremy calls the hour before anyone shows up to work the ‘golden hour of power.’ During this time, you can do all your menial tasks like getting your desk organized or going into the logbook so you have time to plan out your day.

Lastly, not having the will to do a morning ritual is killing service advisors and replacing them with tablets.

  1. Not learning.

They’re not learning! They’re not listening to books about sales, about customer service, about business, or how to get better. They’re not going to courses, that sort of thing. They’re stagnant!

I’m out of room for books, but I won’t stop buying more books! Pretty soon, I’m gonna need shelves with ladders.

  1. The Parts Department.

No joke, the Parts Department kills advisors dead.

Once again, thanks to all of our viewers and listeners for tuning in. Please share, subscribe, and don’t forget to submit questions for a chance to win some swag, and we’ll see you again next week!

How to be Self-Made

How to be Self-Made

Do you want to be self-made?

If you’re an even remotely ambitious person, then your gut answer is probably going to be  yes. But let me blow your mind…. 

…You might not realize it, but you’re already self-made. I’m self-made. We’re ALL self-made! A homeless person in Downtown LA is every bit as self-made as a so-called “self-made” millionaire! 

Whether you’re successful, or you’re an utter disappointment to your parents, what you make of your life is 100% up to you. That’s why, on this week’s Service Drive Revolution, I put together a little list of what I believe is important to be successful as a self-made person, and turn around the outcome if you feel like you aren’t successful yet.

  1. Own It
    If you blame everybody else instead of owning up to the results of your own actions, then it’s going to be a waste of your time. You control how hard you work, what time you get up, what you eat, how much you work out, what you think, who you surround yourself with, what you watch on TV, what book you read. It’s all up to you. We make decisions every day that take us towards or away from what makes us successful.

  2. Love Yourself
    This is the point where a lot of people fail. It’s too easy to give into the fear of failure where we fail once and then never try again.

    Think about this: if you forgive your best friend after they’ve made a mistake but you wouldn’t forgive yourself, then maybe you don’t love yourself as much as you love other people. Don’t get me wrong – it’s great to love other people, so why not do the same if not more to yourself? Accept that you’re not perfect and that you’re going to make mistakes, but also acknowledge that you can do better.

  3. Self-Talk
    Do you talk to yourself in the way where you are highlighting and giving energy to your talents, or are you giving energy to your faults?

    Once you understand what your strengths are, you need to build your self-talk around them. Put your time and energy into those things and don’t beat yourself up over things you’re not good at.

    Talk to yourself like you’re good at anything you want to be good at. Look at it this way – you just haven’t decided to be good at it. You haven’t decided that it’s a priority and you don’t WANT to spend the rest of your life learning it… yet.

    Just because it’s not something you enjoy doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a weakness. How you look at those things, and how you self-talk about those things, ends up affecting where you go and what you achieve, so self-talk is a big deal.

  4. Your Friends
    The further up the ladder of success you go, it’ll affect the people you attract and the people you hang around with. Are the friends making you better or worse?

    I don’t know anybody who didn’t have to get rid of their friends going up the ladder, because once you’re more successful than them, there might be drama. You might find that they’re not happy for you– they’re jealous. They project their insecurities, their fears, their self-loathing… and you can’t afford to be around that energy. It’s okay to find new friends – people who talk about what CAN happen and see the world as an opportunity, not a curse.

    More importantly, be around people who have made it through hard times, because you’re going to go out and start something, and it might go terribly wrong. It’s nice to think positive, but the truth of the matter is that nothing is ever easy.

  5. You Can’t Feel Entitled
    You’re not entitled to anything. If you can’t get excited about this country’s economy and all the opportunities that we have, you’re watching too much TV. You need to get away from the negative news and understand that opportunity is everywhere.

  6. Commitment
    If you want to be self-made, you have to commit to something in a way where even you can’t tell yourself you won’t do it. Countless people give up as soon as it gets hard, even when they have the recipe for everything up to that point.

    Anyone can say, “Well, I did my best.” Nobody was really asking you to do your best – they were asking you to win! When you say you did your best, that’s a lie. You could’ve gotten up a little earlier, done a little more research, asked one more person for help with an idea, or watched somebody who’s doing it at a higher level. There’s always something more you can do.

Change the way you think. Look for the positive in things and you’ll start to see opportunity. Perform to your full potential and don’t just show up average every day, because you’re better than that. You haven’t even realized what you’re capable of until you own it and go through these steps.

With all that in mind, I’m going to answer some questions from the audience…

“If you had to choose, would you pick washing customers’ cars, picking them up, or drop-off service?”

See, here’s the thing… I always find it difficult to respond to hypotheticals like this because, simply put, that’s not reality!

In reality, you can (and should) do all that and more! Listen to our podcast with Brian Benstock on why disrupting the auto industry might be the only way to survive. You know customers will pay more for better service, right? Ask THEM this, not us. We can charge a fair amount AND offer customers what they want.

A lot of people want their car picked up AND they want it washed. It’s not about which job is more difficult, or less glamorous… It’s about providing the best experience for the customer. 

But, to give you a more serious answer– It’s not hard to facilitate both.

“Our dealership hired a new fixed ops manager who wants to make it so every car that is booked in for the day comes into the shop the second the appointment is booked. Am I crazy to be worried about this? Our appointments are booked at 15 minute intervals starting at 8 AM. I just can’t wrap my head around how this will work. I’m stressed just thinking about it. Have you seen this before? What happens with diag? Upsells? Intervals? Help!”

You know what? You should try it because he might be right. 

We have this little thing we do called instant inspection. Every car that comes in, we immediately have a tech greet them and put the car in the air, and we inspect everything right then. What happens is, if the customer looks at the car with the tech, our closing ratios go up, and at the moment of write up, you know pretty much 90% of the time what the car needs. Parts can pull the parts, put them in the car, and a tech can just finish it. It’s super efficient and works really well so I think you should give him a try.

This next one wasn’t actually submitted to us but was pulled from the Service Advisors subreddit.

You can click that link and read the whole thread, but the gist of it is:

“I’ve talked to two dealerships who seem interested in hiring me. I have never worked at a dealership, let alone as an advisor, so I’m a little cautious about taking the job. I’ve worked at a little engine shop for the last 8 years. I’m the lead tech, and basically the guy under the owner. However, I don’t strictly just work on stuff. I sell equipment, I work up estimates, I call with estimates, I recommend work, I listen to how the customer reacts so I know how to word something and/or give them options I think they would be okay with. So what should I expect? Is the pay worth it? How could I excel? The hours don’t seem great, but my current hours aren’t great. Both dealerships told me the average income is $40,000 – 100,000. I currently make about 32,000 with no benefits.”

First off, the most we’ve seen an advisor make is $420,000 a year, give or take. The truth of the matter is that I started as a porter and then became a service advisor. I don’t know if I would’ve been a good advisor if I wasn’t a porter first. What got me hooked was that the more we made friends with the customers and the more we perfected our craft, the more money we made. I remember being 20 years old, making $120,000, and telling my mom I was making more than some lawyers. 

The downside is that you get stuck in the industry because… where else would you make that kind of money? Everywhere else, people work twice as hard and make a quarter of what you could be making as a service advisor. People in the food industry literally work seven days a week, and they’re making $16 an hour. As an advisor, if you can connect with customers and approach it like a pro, you can make a GREAT living.

The last thing I want to add is, if you interview for any job in the service department, write a thank you letter and mail it through the post office near the dealership so they get it the next day. Not too many people mail handwritten letters anymore, and we look for advisors who go that extra mile that nobody else does. If, for some reason, you can’t do that, then send an e-mail. The important thing is to show that you can follow up and connect with customers quickly.

But more importantly: remember to love yourself, because no one else can do it for you!

Once again, thanks for reading, listening, and watching. We hope you have a great week, and we’ll see you again real soon!