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The Top 10 Reasons Why Customers Hate Service Advisors

I thought it was funny yesterday, we were on our bi-weekly call with our coaches that are out in the field, and when we were talking about the agenda for the call, and Christian was like, “I want to talk about menus.”

Because one of the things that we will do when we go into a service department is we will help them redo their menu: parts costs, then the labor, then what we actually charge for it, and then the effective labor rate. And so, we’d seen some inconsistencies in the way because he’s good at sniffing out those sorts of things, but he had some things he wanted to say.

So on the Zoom meeting, he said, “Okay, I’m going to put up some menus, and I want you guys to find what’s wrong with these menus.” So I guess what happened was I kinda forgot that it wasn’t just me and Christian and it was like when you’re in school and there’s always that kid at the front of the room that raises their hand before the teacher even finishes asking a question.

That’s basically what happened. I found things that he hadn’t, but Christian ends up saying, “Chris, with all due respect, do you think we could let the coaches start the exercise now?”

That was hilarious, but I apologized and said that if you put a menu or financial statement in front of me, I get super excited. I just want to go to work and figure out what’s going on!

So today we’re going to talk about the 10 Reasons Why Customers Hate Service Advisors, but before we get to that and questions afterwards, I’d like to thank everybody for tuning into our show because we hit a major milestone: 10,000 followers on YouTube and 1.4 million views! It’s crazy how fast we’re growing!

My goal from the very beginning with our content was, and I’ve said this a million times, I wanted to put out free content that’s better than the stuff anybody else charges for. I know that people play these in their training; our competition will play them in their training, and I know manufacturers will, too!

And so, I think that’s why some of these have so many views. I’m just gonna name some of the top ones here:

Our #1 video is Five Keys to Being a Best of Breed Service Advisor.

#2 is Leadership Training Fundamentals with Jocko Willink.

#3 is Service Advisor Training: The Circle of Trust (co-starring my bulldogs). It’s like a Bob Dylan music video rip-off…

#4 is Service Advisor Training: Pet the Dog. Oh, the Pet the Dog story… That one’s a classic. You could read that one to your kid when you tuck them into bed.

#5 is Service Advisor Training: Selling More Maintenance in the Service Drive.

I’m noticing a trend here: that the title Service Advisor Training seems to rank pretty good…

Anyway, I have a feeling that going from 10,000 followers to 20,000 is going to happen pretty quick, especially with some stuff that we have coming.

So now it’s the Top 10 Reasons Customers HATE Service Advisors, and this is a list we round-tabled from customers that have never worked in our business, and there were so many things that we had to get it from like 74 to 10. They were really not shy at all; they had a lot to say so it was pretty fun narrowing it down to sort of a Greatest Hits list…

  1.       They lie about diagnosis

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Don’t do this.

  1.       The car is never done on time

That’s assuming that the customer even gets an ETA in the first place. This can be avoided by telling the customer the truth. Most of the time, it happens because the advisor either didn’t tell the truth or they allowed the customer to tell THEM when it would be done.

  1.       Not done right

What that video I mentioned earlier that’s part of our top 5, Service Advisor Training: The Circle of Trust. Part of that circle is QC which is one of the most important steps but also the most skipped.

What’s also interesting is that people on the inside would think, “Well, that’s the tech’s fault that it’s not done right,” but that’s not what the customer sees! The customer blames not only the advisor but the whole shop!

So many times the advisor’s called “the mechanic” because that’s what the customer knows them as!

  1.       Charge for diagnosis while under warranty

And then lie about it… Nothing starts a relationship with distrust like that.

I have a story that’s in my book, The Millionaire Service Advisor, that was something that stuck with me forever: the true story of when I first got the job as an advisor. There were times where I would get to cover for advisors when they were sick and out and all that, but when I got my advisor number, I wrote service for these Boeing engineers on my first or second day. They had just bought Subaru SVXs which were like sedan sports cars because they thought they were engineering wonders (they were not).

This guy comes in, but nobody wanted to write him up so I walked up to him and said, “How can I help you?”

He goes, “Oh, I have an appointment. I need to drop this off.”

I write it up and it turns out to be a 20-something line RO of rattles, so I turn it into dispatch. Then, the dispatcher calls me down there and he’s like, “You need to get money for this.”

So the car had been in dispatch all day and I had to get money from the guy, and I didn’t know that Subaru’s warranty only covered rattles for the first 12 months. The point of the story is that the customer’s perception is that the car is under warranty, but depending on the manufacturer, the warranty might not cover things like alignment or rattles.

  1.       Different price depending on who you talk to

Especially if you call parts directly… I don’t know if it’s still a thing, but it definitely used to be that the parts department over the retail counter would quote a different price than what was quoted on the back counter, which is confusing and causes the customer to not trust us!

  1.       Can’t find one

Also known as “the empty desk.” Would you call that an oxymoron? How can you hate somebody you can’t find?

Also, how the hell do they all leave at the same time? That’s especially a failure on the last person. If there’s five people and they all go to the food truck one right after another and you’re the last one, that’s a failure on your part if you go, too!

  1.       They don’t call or pick up the phone

This one is also self-explanatory.

  1.       They can never hear a rattle

Like they’re deaf… None of the service advisors can detect a rattle.

  1.       Condescending

It’s like the opposite of empathy. A lot of advisors don’t have empathy! They think they’re experts and customers are stupid. It’s like a chicken and the egg where we got customers thinking the advisors are stupid and then the other way around, but the customers are the ones spending money so we NEED to be more empathetic.

  1.   They don’t order the parts

In this case, it’s actually NOT part department’s fault, but advisors tend to blame it on parts anyway. I wonder where they’d get that idea…

So those are the Top 10 Reasons Customers Hate Service Advisors. Now, we’re going to go to your questions. Remember, if you call the hotline and we play your question on the big show, we’re going to send you some swag; T-shirt, coffee mugs, stickers, a notebook. It’s great stuff so call us at (833) 3-ASK-SDR. For those of you who don’t remember phone buttons, that’s (833) 327-5737.

“I have a question about your repair authorization process. I understand it, and it makes sense in some ways. However, what do you do when the customer decides not to go ahead and do the repair and now the technician has his, let’s say, his one hour or so into it? Now, because you didn’t get prior authorization for those diagnostic testing, now you’re out on the hook to internal your technician. Right? That’s my question.

Also, Christian, what happens to a frog’s car when it breaks down?

It gets ‘toad’ away.”

… I can’t believe Christian’s got people calling in jokes now…

So thanks, Jesse, for calling in that question, but listen to me: you’re not understanding what repair authorization is, my friend. The term ‘repair authorization’ insinuates that they authorized the full repair before you did it. Diagnosis would have nothing to do with it. If you say to a customer, “Hey, we’re going to figure out what your coolant leak is. I’m going to give myself $2,000 to work with. If it’s less, it’ll be less. If it’s more, I’ll give you a call.”

They cant decline the work because they’ve signed for $2,000!

And then the thing to think about her is maybe you should have said a higher number because the ideal with the repair authorization is that it’s kind of the worst case scenario. If I’m writing up a BMW and it comes in for a coolant leak, I’m not getting a repair authorization for a hose. I’m getting a repair authorization for the radiator, and the radiator is going to be like $4,000. If it’s the water pump, it’s $2,000, right?

I’m going with the worst case scenario, which is telling the customer the truth…

Another thing is that if you quote $4,000 as the worst case scenario, but then it ends up being only $2,000, then you’re a hero! Don’t be so shy on the number. The lesson here is that you probably needed a higher number to begin with because then the customer might’ve said, “Well, if it’s $2,000, I don’t want you to do it.”

If you only got $1,000 to work with, then only spend $1,000, but they’re still paying diagnosis, my friend. I know I said I’m sick of so many people asking about repair authorization, but we’re still going to be sending you some swag. Thanks for the question.

“Hey, Chris. This is Chris Mioli. I work in an independent shop: Essex County Auto Repair in Middleton, Massachusetts. I got a real question for you. We keep hearing it more and more, and I know we don’t give out prices over the phone; we never do. I need a really good, smooth answer of why, without having to get wordy and trip over my words with people. I need that one phrase that gets people to go, “He’s right. I need to bring the car in. It’s the only way to do it,” so that they understand.”

I think that’s more of a Jeremy thing to not give a price. I never believed in that, but yeah it should be the focus of the call to get them in.

When I was the general manager of a BMW store and nobody wanted to quote prices on cars, I knew back then that the trend was going to online sales and people just wanted it to be super easy. The thing I would try to do is ask questions.

If somebody calls in and says, “How much is a water pump on a 2015 Toyota Corolla?” I would just say, “Okay, let me ask you a couple of questions. So why do you think you need a water pump? Who told you that?”

And then I would say, “We get called on for price quotes all the time, and is this just about getting it the cheapest or is it about getting the car fixed?” That’s what I would ask.

Then, I’d say,” Well, I can get you a quote for a water pump. I’ll have to put it together and call around.”

You could ask them how much they were quoted by somebody else, and say, “If I beat that, are you bringing it in?” because you can get it in and recommend other stuff.

There’s tons of things you can do, but I think asking questions and then putting them on ice and calling them back with the quote is the way to go. Because a lot of times, if it’s just about price, you can find a cheaper part somewhere. If it’s just about price, you could find a used part. I know that’s a terrible idea because there’s no warranty, but I think it’s more about understanding what the customer needs and asking more questions. At some point, people just want an answer and you’ve got to give them an answer.

The answer is finding a way to build value in your shop and create doubt in the other shop. Nobody ever wants to call the cheapest plumber.

That’s it with this week’s questions. Thank you so much for watching Service Drive Revolution and getting us to 1.4 million views! If you aren’t already one of our 10,000 subscribers, make sure you click the bell icon on the YouTube video so you don’t miss out. If you have a question you’d like to answer on the show, remember to call (833) 3-ASK-SDR and leave a voicemail.

For special deals on our books and training, head over to I hope you have a great week, and I’ll see you next time on Service Drive Revolution!


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