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Do Service Advisor Personality Tests Actually Work?

I’ve been dying… DYING to give away my Jeep Gladiator. You guys don’t even understand how badly I want to wrap up the Service Manager Challenge and give away this Jeep at our Top Dog event… And COVID has thrown a huge wrench into it! It’s driving me crazy!!

So, for those of you who don’t know (I’m not sure how that’s possible considering how often we talk about it on the show), I run this competition every year called the 90-Day Service Manager Challenge. It’s open to anybody who enrolls into our OnDemand Training system, or joins our Coaching Group. This year, instead of the usual cash prize, I decided to give away an all-new, suped-up Jeep Gladiator, and the winner was going to be announced at our annual Top Dog event.

But, because of the Coronavirus effectively shutting down the global economy, the playing field has become super uneven. We have some clients that hit record months during the quarantine, and other regions where Service Managers lost a ton of traffic. It’s just not fair to everybody competing across the country, because different regions were affected in different ways. 

So because we’re in an unprecedented situation, I think we need to take unprecedented action… so we’re going to postpone the Top Dog event. We haven’t figured out exactly what this means for the Service Manager Challenge, but you can bet that we’re going to keep everyone updated as we figure this thing out.

I can’t even begin to tell you how heartbreaking this is for me. This was shaping up to be one of our most exciting Top Dog events to date! We had Jay Leno lined up to speak and do an episode of the show, we were going to announce the winner of the Service Manager Challenge… we had so many fun things planned, but now we just have to wait.

We have an exciting show this week, as always, but this one might even be a little more exciting than usual! We’re going to talk about personality profiles, and whether or not they work when you’re filling a Service Advisor or Service Manager position, and thank God, we actually have some really, really good questions today. Jeremy’s $100 bet really motivated you all!

But first, did you guys know that after 25 years, Ford is releasing a new Bronco! An American staple and the car that defined the SUV is finally set to be unveiled this year…. on OJ’s birthday. Well, at least they were going to, before they changed the date because of a little bit of backlash.

So, this is yet another in a long line of very interesting (poor) decisions by Ford, and my question is… How does that even happen? How does this date pass through so many people in Ford without anybody realizing the coincidence, and saying it was a bad idea? Maybe I should give them the benefit of the doubt, and assume they didn’t know it was his birthday. I don’t know.

I think it’s terrible but also funny at the same time. Maybe they really should just sell to Amazon.

Now, I’m gonna jump right into the questions so we can save all the really exciting stuff for last. That doesn’t mean the questions aren’t good, though…

“What is the standard percentage of gross generated that should be paid to Service Advisors?”

Every financial statement is a little different, but it really depends on two things: What brand, and what type of shop? Are you at a dealership? Independent? Truck? On average, I would say that the range is somewhere between 6% and 8% of gross. Sometimes, when we go into a service department, we find that it’s 10-12% of gross. It really varies from shop to shop.

When you’re talking about the dealership side of things, then the brand also makes a difference. For example, on a General Motors statement, the Parts department doesn’t participate in the Service Advisors’ pay, but you get a parts transfer. On a BMW financial statement, it’s split 50/50 between Service and Parts because, if you think about it, Service Advisors are selling parts as much as they’re selling labor.

So in order to get a clear answer, you need to understand whether or not you have a parts transfer, or whether you’re splitting it, or what the actual accounting guidelines are for your manufacturer… but good question!

“What would be the best way for a Service Advisor to deliver a no-fault-found diagnostic to a customer without them feeling like you’re calling them a liar? The technician’s notes say they scanned for codes, road tested, and could not duplicate… Just curious how to deliver that explanation better.”

I have a system for this! I don’t know if I ever talked about it on the show, but I’m glad you asked because we finally got to talk about this… What you want to do with the customers is deflect it to a boogeyman. 

Let me explain.

When I was a Service Advisor, what I would say is, “We checked it out, and couldn’t replicate the issue… But the thing that I’ve found is that there’s a bubble over the dealership. Any time a customer is experiencing rattles, squeaks, intermittent stalling, everything stops when you come within two, five, or even ten miles of the shop. It’s super common that you’ll hear it, but when you get inside of that invisible bubble, for some reason it just doesn’t happen.”

At that point, I would offer to have them road test it with you, or with a shop foreman or a technician, if you guys are allowed to do that. That’s usually the best way to handle that.

Make fun of that a little bit. Deflect to the boogeyman while establishing that we’ve done everything we can, but it’s not uncommon that these sorts of things disappear when you get inside the invisible dome around the dealership. Customers will understand that. They’ll get a little bit of a laugh, but it will endear them and it makes them non-confrontational.

“I have a question about how to get customers to engage with you during the walk around when they bring their vehicles in, but also how to do it without feeling like I’m looking for added issues to upsell, and more about making it like I’m keeping them safe and looking out for the customer, which is what it’s all about.”

Wow, was that all one sentence?

Okay, get a notepad and write this down:

Number one: You want to treat everybody coming in like they were your mom or dad. I always say, if you wouldn’t sell it to your mom or your dad, don’t sell it. If your motivation when you’re writing them up is just to sell them something, you’re going to project that. You’re not really coming from the right place. The place we want to come from internally is we want to keep our customers in safe and dependable vehicles!

Number two: You want to be curious. You really want to know the customer on a deeper level and pet the dog. If you watched our Pet the Dog video, then you’ll understand this. It’s a story about how when my first bulldog was diagnosed with cancer. What happened was I went to the doctor for him to get surgery but my ex-wife, Satan, said, “I don’t want that doctor to perform the surgery,” because he wasn’t connecting on the level that she was on.

When I was a Service Advisor – there were 8 of us – we had one veteran Service Advisor there, and I think I learned a lot of my approach to customers from her. She really, really cared about customers. When she approached a car, she was really, really interested in who they were, what they did, and why, and I was the same way. I wanted to talk about things like, “Where are you headed today?”

“Oh, you work there?”

“Well, what do you do there?”

“Oh, how does that work?”

I’d be 5 questions in, and we never talked about the car. You have to remember: the car is a commodity. Anybody can service the car. There’s nothing special about the car. What’s special is that every customer has a story, and understanding their story – their motivation – ends up not only being your biggest asset, but it also makes you feel like you’re doing some good!

I always felt like I was actually protecting people from other Service Advisors, because while they were all focused on the transaction and the sale, I really cared about them and wanted to do right by them. Just ask questions and be curious about people. They’ll lead you.

If you look at their car or their truck, they’re going to have bumper stickers. They’re going to be dressed a certain way. People are projecting who they are! If you pay attention to that, it will lead you to where you want to go, and you’ll become genuine friends with your customers. I always say, the job of the Service Advisor is not to sell service, it’s to collect a ton of loyal customers and keep them in safe and dependable vehicles.

In order for a Service Advisor to do that, they have to ask questions… What is their family like? How many kids do they have? What are their hobbies? What are their interests? 

That does it all for you.

And then you check history and advise them on how they should keep their car safe and dependable. You have to fundamentally believe that maintenance saves customers money in the long run, right?

There are tons of numbers out there that say if you spend so and so in maintenance, you prevent however much in repairs. Jeremy says all the time that every car out there on the road on average needs a couple hours of work done on it, and that doesn’t even include parts!

So selling work and your numbers as a Service Advisor are less about being manipulative and selling the customer something, and more about them trusting you and you following up and offering the work early enough in the day that they can get it done without having to leave it another day. 

It’s more about the system and your communication than it is about you being good at selling. Service Advisors don’t really have to be good at selling, they just have to be good at caring about people and being trustworthy, authentic, and good with time management! If you’re not interested in people and you’re not curious, you’re not going to be a good Service Advisor…

“I’ve been working at an Infiniti dealership for a year coming this July. I’ve worked my ass off every single day, and my entire team, service director, advisor, shop foreman, and techs are all behind me 110% for a service advisor role. I applied, but was denied the position based on a culture index personality test issued by the general manager. 

I want to grow. I know CDK and dealer track. I’ve worked at a convention center hotel during peak hours, been a sales associate in the past. I know what customer service is, and how important it is for customer retention and customer base growth. However, it seems like management could care less because my online personality test said I was introverted… 

I’m torn. I found an opportunity for an internal advisor at a Subaru dealership nearby, and I’m seriously considering it, especially because my whole team even offered to be references on my resume. 

Now our porter is quitting and, along with being receptionist, porter, following up with customers, putting together paperwork, and even writing up customers as if I was an advisor, I’ll be doing deliveries on top of everything; all with cut pay since the beginning of June or so. 

Should I stay with my team that I see as family and hope that management decides to notice me eventually, or should I leave and take the opportunity to grow at Subaru?”

Alright, so this is going to lead us into our title topic for this week– Do personality tests actually work? Are they effective at predicting who is going to be a good Service Advisor or Manager?

Early on in my career, I had all my managers doing this guru’s leadership training, and he wanted us to do a personality test on everybody new coming in. I was a little skeptical about it, but like anything else, if it works, I’m going to use it… So I said, “Okay. If these personality tests are so good, let’s take our top Salespeople and our top Service Advisors and let’s give them the personality test and see if we would hire them.”

Guess what? We wouldn’t have hired them…

If you look at the top Service Advisors in our Top Dog Underground competition, you’re going to see that the Advisors who win Advisor of the Year, who write the most parts and labor, who have the highest hours per RO, that have the best CSI in the country – they’re all introverts! They’re quiet. They’re a little awkward. They’re definitely not the life of the party, but they’re amazing Service Advisors!

In fact, they’re probably closer to accountants in personality, really. There’s a few of them that are extroverts but, for the most part, they’re more like me. I register more as an introvert, and I was an amazing Service Advisor! So, just based on my personal experience, my conclusion on these personality tests is that they’re a lot like horoscopes… Even the companies that make the personality tests will tell you that you should only use it as 25% of the decision making.

A much better indicator of a person’s potential in a role– the thing that will always tell you exactly whether someone will make a good Service Advisor, a good Salesperson, or a good Technician– is past performance. If somebody is the #1 Service Advisor at a Toyota dealership out of 12 Advisors, and they have the best CSI and the best numbers, I don’t care what the personality test says! I would advise you to go tell this General Manager to test your top people. They might be surprised to find that the metrics that matter, performance and drive, don’t show up on a personality test.

So, to wrap this up and answer your question directly: Go somewhere else. Leave that dealership. Go write service somewhere else and be the top Service Advisor. Do not stop until you’re the top advisor. Then, mail your numbers to that general manager, put them in the mail and go, “Hey, we got 6 advisors. Look at me. I’m an introvert.”

Personality tests don’t predict performance. Performance predicts performance.

Once again, thanks to everybody for tuning in, and we’ll see you again on Service Drive Revolution!

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