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What is Your Service Advisors’ S.O.S.?

There is a word circling around right now… and that word is…. Opportunity! There’s so much opportunity in front of us, even despite what’s going on socially; opportunity for repair shops and dealerships to really capitalize on this market now that things are starting to open up again. So that’s why today I want to tell you about two things that can help you improve your service department and make more money!

Yup. It’s really as simple as that.

But first! We have 3 new winners (3 assassins) from our Top Dog Underground competition, which means that there are three new Service Managers getting into the Elite Group! For a full ranking list, tune into this week’s show.

Overall, great job, great month. I’ve been getting texts about Service Managers having record months! I swear, somebody mentioned something about pent-up demand a while back, but I can’t put my finger on it….

There’s a lot of good stuff to cover with today’s topic after we go through this week’s questions. By the way, if you submit a question at [email protected], on YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, or on the new Service Drive Revolution website, we will send you some Service Drive Revolution swag, by which we mean a cool T-shirt, a hat, a coffee mug, maybe a notebook, things like that.

“What if there is no pay plan and I continue to outsell expectations? Between ARO, labor hours sold, and profit margin, I continue to excel. Sincerely, a concerned Service Advisor.”

So Jeremy always tells Service Advisors first and foremost that the time to negotiate your pay is before you take the job. If you took the job and you were happy with the paycheck at that point in time, you have nobody to blame about your paycheck except for you.

Most Service Advisors get into this position because it’s a performance-based pay plan where they can essentially write their own paycheck, and if you’re on salary and you’re unhappy with it after the fact because you realize there’s more money to be made somewhere else, you basically have to treat this as a sales objection. Go in and sell management on a performance-based pay plan if your business doesn’t already offer that, but it’s really hard to do after the fact if you already accepted the job!

One more time:

Negotiate your pay BEFORE you accept the job.

Now, I would go several steps further and say next time don’t apply for a Service Advisor job in whatever communist country your business seems to think it’s in. That doesn’t sound like a capitalist environment so next time, come to America and apply for a job.

On a serious note, I know it doesn’t help to tell you this after the fact but Jeremy’s answer probably sums it up best. Now you’ve taken the job. You’re there. You’re building a clientele and you’re going, “Oh, hey. I’m doing better than everybody else, but I’m making the same!”

That’s communism. That’s what Putin wants for you.

“Hi, Chris. Our technicians refuse to work on any vehicles requiring the dash to be torn apart. They do not want to spend any more time than necessary in the customer’s car right now. I don’t blame them, but it got me thinking: is there a foolproof way to disinfect a car’s air conditioning system? We are turning off the fans in the car. I looked into some YouTube videos on how to disinfect your AC, but they all looked pretty unconvincing. Thought you might have some better information. Thanks for the advice.”

I would call your MOC or BG rep. I think some companies make a foam that sprays into the evaporator into the system, like Toyota makes one. I know MOC makes a really good one that goes right into the evaporator and kills whatever mold is in there, but I don’t know if killing mold is the same as disinfecting…

Also, Bosch just came out with HEPA filters for the cabin air filters, and they’re covering 90% of car lines. Rather than just putting a paper filter in, they have a higher grade of cabin air filter that Service Advisors can put into the cars now so I would look into that.

“I’ve been a Service Advisor for about two years, and I have a quick question. I’m technically the quick lane Service Advisor, so I’m in charge of two guys on our drive. I’m having trouble getting them motivated to turn out 20 to 30 minute oil changes and tire rotations. I understand a few vehicles take longer to drain so that time is flexible, but they are doing 45 minutes plus and I can’t have that.”

Yeah so there’s one way to go at this and you might not like it, but it’s worked for me in the past… The thing I try to do is I try to establish where the real benchmark is.

So let’s say that I come into your Service Drive tomorrow and I have $1,000 in cash, and I say, “Hey, I’m going to give you guys $1,000 in cash if you can do an oil change in 7 minutes.”

The world record, I think, for an oil change is 2 minutes or something like that. Don’t quote me on it, look it up.

We thought about having a contest for that once. Just see if they can do it in 7 minutes or 10 minutes, but you’ve gotta distract them. Have a diversion like a contest. Don’t just go to them and be like, “Oh my God! You take too long to do oil changes. You guys suck. 45 minutes is a joke.”

Instead, be like, “Hey, I’ve got a bet, and I’ll give you (x) dollars if you can do an oil change in under 7, because I was watching these YouTube videos and they do it in under 3 or 4 minutes.”

They’ll get distracted in the game and you don’t necessarily have to do $1,000. You can do $100. Honestly, you might be able to get away with $50. After you give them the money, go, “Okay. So what did we learn here?”

I’ve had this happen a lot of times where we’ll have clients and they’ll be like, “Oh, we can’t sell re-hoses in our area.”

And I’ll go into the store, and I’ll put $200 up on the board. In the morning meeting, 6:45, I’ll be like, “Hey, first Service Advisor to sell a re-hose gets that,” and it’s never, ever been more than 30 minutes until somebody comes back and they’ve sold a re-hose.

Then I’m like, “Okay. What did we learn here?”

That we can sell re-hose! Hey, and maybe set an extreme benchmark so that you’re talking about 45 minutes, but you can really do an oil change in 10 minutes! Get them to do one in 10 minutes for a joke or a dare and then be like, “Okay, well, we need to do more of that!”

Also, you need to take into consideration that maybe they just don’t care; they hate their job, they don’t want to get better, and they might be the wrong people. Maybe they’re in a job as technicians for a quick lube and they don’t see a chance for advancement, and so they’re already 19 years old and burned out, hating their job, thinking about retirement.

There’s gotta be more to the circumstance, but that would be my idea.

“Chris, I know it’s annoying but, in 2020, how much is a good Service Advisor making on average, please? Thanks for your kind words, man. Thanks.”

Jeremy said it best on the show which is “as much as they’re worth.”

Most Service Advisors are making between $300,000 and $500,000…

Yeah, right. There are some Service Managers that would like that paycheck.

It’s a hard question to answer because, like Jeremy said, you’re going to get paid exactly what you’re worth, and that isn’t just on your performance. It’s also the place you choose to work and what their pay plan is.

So back to kind of what Jeremy was pointing out earlier is if you’re an Service Advisor and you’re out looking for a job, the first thing you want to do is ask to see the pay plan, and also ask how often they change the pay plan.

You should have your numbers ready. We talked last week about knowing net to gross, knowing what your numbers are as a Service Advisor, knowing what effective labor rate you can carry. What’s your closing ratio? How do you excel selling the fourth labor type of diagnostic services? What can you bring to the table to separate yourself from the average Service Advisor that’s going to collect a paycheck?

My last year as a Service Advisor, I was 23 and I made $120,000 and change as a Service Advisor. Then I got a 10-99 for 15 grand from Prestige Products where we sold the wheels so that was almost $140,000.

But I’ll tell you, the job I had right before that as an Service Advisor, I was making $60,000 so I more than doubled by going to a different store with a better pay plan. Also, I put in huge numbers.

So the closest I can get to answering your question is that average Service Advisors make $50,000 – $60,000 a year while high performers get into the $100,000 range.

That was the last question and I can move onto the subject for today, and that’s SOS. This was Jeremy’s idea but do you know what SOS stands for?

In this case, it does not mean Save Our Ship. Wrong industry. SOS stands for Speed of Service.

It’s a KPI that a lot of people ignore in our industry. All of the protesters all over the world really, really want to drive something home and that’s speed of service on social change. And it’s no different with car repair.

Customers today demand speed of service. Jeremy’s numbers are dramatically different when they get the estimate back to the customer within 2 hours of them dropping off the car. 86.3% of customers will buy everything they’re asked to if they have the inspection, the root cause analysis, and the estimate back to them within 2 hours. If it goes beyond 4 hours, guess where the number drops…


Speed of service is key. There’s a couple different areas we talk about in our coaching and there are two critical points where Service Advisors need to excel and execute at the Speed of Service.

The first one is estimating. Get that estimate prepared and get it back to the customer as quickly as possible.

The second one is getting the car done so the customer can hurry over to the nearest Cracker Barrel.

Say you’re going to take your car in for service and the car is going to be in your possession for 2 weeks…

Shop A says they’re going to take 13 days and 6 hours to give you an answer as to what’s wrong. Once they know what’s wrong, they’re going to fix it in 5 minutes.

Shop B is going to figure it out within 2 hours of you dropping it off, but they need 2 weeks to fix it.

Which shop are you happier with?

The answer is Shop B, because I no longer have an open loop in my mind that it’s wearing me out wondering, “Is it going to be $2,000? $3,000? What’s it going to be? Is it a total? Does it need a fix?”

It’s taken away decision fatigue.

Make it a priority to get the car inspected, get the diagnosis and the root cause analysis done as fast as you can. Then, get those estimates out, and watch how your numbers will skyrocket!

I think that prejudging happens way too often in our industry. When I was a Service Advisor, we saw it all the time. When I wrote service at a Volkswagen-Subaru store in the university district, a lot of kids that had Jettas or GTIs were college students that didn’t have any money. They were living on top ramen, typical college students, and I would just tell them what the tech wrote on the inspection sheet, knowing that probably fixing it wasn’t worth the car but I felt obligated.

I always felt, well, if the tech recommended it, I’m going to say it. And then I’ll prioritize because some of it doesn’t have to be done today.

I remember a lot of times, there would be female customers who would cry and get super upset and I’d feel terrible. Then a couple hours later, Dad would call me and he’d be like, “Go through this with me again. How much is it?”


“Okay, can I give you my credit card?”

At the end of the day, who wants their daughter to be in a city far away from home from her parents and her car breaks down? It was the right thing to do, but I was probably the only Service Advisor out of the 8 or 9 that I worked with that would have done that. Most of them would have been like, “Oh, the car isn’t worth it. I’m not going to say anything.”

They close it out. They prejudge. Do you know what the problem is with prejudging?

Consistency. If you are consistent every time, if you treated everybody the same, every inspection the same, and you were consistent, you would never have prejudice sneak in.

So be consistent, everybody. That’s our message to you this week. I’m super proud of all the new comp winners. We set out on a mission to increase our account in the elite group and it’s working! We’re moving a lot of Service Managers up to elite, they’re upping their performance, and it’s really fun. Thanks for tuning in and we’ll see you next time on Service Drive Revolution!

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