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Service Managers’ Biggest Mistakes

“You are your own worst enemy” is more than just a popular saying. Nine time out of ten, the person who’s costing you the most business is none other than yourself.

Do you want to get ahead in sales? Then you’ve got to stop falling into these traps and standing in the way of your own success. My guest Coach Chris Hogland joins me on this week’s Service Drive Revolution as we break down some of the biggest mistakes that are keeping service advisors from selling more.

As for myself, I often find that scheduling can become a major issue. Managers aren’t putting a system in the drive where advisors have time between appointments to call customers with updates. Usually, appointments are booked way too close together, and the result is that customers wind up calling in for an update. When this happens, you bet the customers are unhappy – they don’t know where to go or what to do, and it’s pure chaos! It’s a manager’s role to fix that before it happens.

On the advisor side, I feel like they can be too transactional… “Line up. Come here. Do this.” It’s not fun or friendly! You’re not an airline! The customer doubts what’s happening in the back of the house if the reception isn’t warm at the front. Even if it’s a controlled chaos, they feel like herded cattle. If your system is just trying to make it from 7:00 to close with the least amount of heat possible, then you’re making it too transactional.

We have clients ranging from dealerships to independent shops and heavy truck clients. 70% of the customers that start off buying their car at the dealer end up leaving and going to an independent shop. Now, from the perspective of the independent shop, the dealers have the home field advantage because customers go to them first.

Think about it: the dealer had the home field advantage that everyone wants, but then they pissed it away!

One of the biggest things keeping advisors from selling is that they think the car is the star of the show, when it’s really the customer. When you make things transactional, the only competitive edge you have left is price. Now, what does that mean? It means you skipped the basic steps of connecting with the customer, so the last card up your sleeve is offering a discount when they haven’t even asked for one. If you’ve defaulted to discounts as an operating system to keep your customers, then your closing technique might as well be dropping your pants and getting naked.

They want their car fixed, and they want to feel like there’s value – which happens when the benefit outweighs the cost. Be the reason they’d rather pay more for your service than go down to Chucky’s Lucky Brakes and get ripped off. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “my mechanic said this,” or, “my mechanic said that.” They’re bluffing. A lot of times they don’t even have a mechanic, and that’s just their way of objecting to a sale. Everybody wants a person inside the car business they can call. Your response when a customer talks about “their mechanic” should be, “What can I do to become that person?”

When I asked him what he thought, Coach Chris mentioned mindset. Advisors think there are too many things preventing them from completing the tasks they need to be able to sell more. That answer ties perfectly into the final item on my list!

A lot of service advisors have a victim complex. What I mean is, some advisors fall into the trap of thinking they can’t control the outcome of a situation. They’re so focused on the things they can’t control, that they wind up not doing the things they can, like asking what you can do to earn the customer’s business, or petting the dog, or following up with the customer before they have to call in and check on status. These are all things you should be doing. Things that you can control.

Speaking of focusing on things you can’t control, the first audience question of the day comes from Tom:

“Are there any written workflow and service lane operations that are written or best practices that I can be informed on? The reason I ask is because I believe I should have every right as a new advisor to have a customer drop their vehicle off as the next writer. On the 10th training day of my new OEM writer position, they tell me that another advisor gets the drop-off in the morning. I am genuinely concerned that I’m being taken advantage of because I’m the new advisor. I’m scared about the new position on day 11 when my survival is dependent on my ability to retain my customers. Any advice would definitely help me.”

Okay so first thing, Tom, we appreciate that you submitted a question so we’re going to send you a Service Drive Revolution care package but I’m going to have to be honest with you: you sound entitled.

Let me tell you about when I was an advisor – I used to come in on Sundays and write the night drops because there were so many of them. My manager at the time – in the Millionaire Service Advisor book, I changed his name to Dick because, well, he was one – was a complete moron.

One day, this idiot service advisor (let’s call him Thomas) who couldn’t write seven RO’s in a day to save his life complained that he didn’t get night drops. So what did they do?

They took all my night drops away and distributed them evenly to all the advisors.

Imagine their surprise when that new rule only lasted two weeks. Why?

Because Dick, in his laziness, didn’t understand that he was going to start getting a bunch of calls from customers whose cars sat there for a day and nobody called them. Customers would leave voicemails for Thomas and never get a call back.

I could have quit, I could have complained, I could have been entitled, but instead I just waited because I wanted to see what would happen. Turns out Dick would rather not deal with customer complaints, so after those two weeks I got all the night drops back, and was writing them again on Sunday.

The very fact that this scheme blew up in their faces proved my value to my boss in the end, right? So it was definitely worth it to grin and bear it.

My grandpa always used to say, “No matter what you’re getting paid to do something, if you try to give more than that, it’ll always work out for you.” Those are words I really try to live by, because someone who can go that extra mile will always be in demand.

So I ask you, Tom, to just flip your script a little bit, bro. If it’s not night drops, give your employer more than what they’re paying you for. Relax; concentrate on connecting with the customers and ask yourself what value you can add to the department, not what’s in it for you. Once you reframe your perspective and bring everything into focus, your luck will change – I guarantee it.

Next question comes from Reddit:

“Who has issues with lifetime warranty? I keep getting 1 hour or greater hold times. As you can imagine, CSI scores tank out and customers get upset when I don’t contact them but what other choice do I have? I had to take work home with me a few times ’cause of the hold times. I had to call on 4 different RO’s and was on the phone for at least 5 hours all the way until 8 P.M. when they closed… What do you guys do? I’ve been doing this for 3 years and lifetime has thrown me in f***ing circles. Also, how many customers are getting pissed when lifetime doesn’t cover parts anymore? How do you deal with that? I give them the number for customer complaints but I would like to see what you guys do. Thanks a lot. (No sarcasm.)”

Okay, so a couple things…

When I had extended warranties, I would dial the number when I was headed to work and just be on hold before opening because you could be on hold for 40 minutes or up to an hour like you said, right?

One thing I would do is have the warranty administrator handle these calls. It’s a lot easier for them because they’re not customer-facing, they’re just sitting at their desk. It’s hard for you, as an Advisor, to take another call when you’re on hold and waiting for that music to stop, so it helps to bring someone else into that process. As an advisor, you might not have the power to make that call, but you could at least propose to your GM that the warranty administrator make those calls for you.

Now, if you don’t have a warranty administrator, maybe there’s a cashier or somebody like that who can do it. If not, then you’re just going to have to do it yourself.

About lifetime not covering parts anymore, I would address that upfront and do something at the time of write up. Let them know in a very soft, subtle way that lifetime isn’t going to pay for the diagnosis, and some of the policies don’t pay for parts. You’re there to be the liaison and do your best to help, but it’s ultimately an outside warranty and not everything is going to be covered.

Learn from these mistakes, and stop falling victim to bad habits.

Once again, thanks for reading and tuning into Service Drive Revolution. We’ll see you all again next week!


You probably don't even realize it, but you're making mistakes and its costing you business. No, really. On this week's Service Drive Revolution, we prepared a list of the most common mistakes that Service Advisors make that prevent them from selling. I guarantee at least one of them will sound familiar. Find out what they are, only on this week's Service Drive Revolution. Now streaming on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and YouTube!

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