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10 Reasons Why Automotive Service Advisors Are So Stressed

Think about the market right now. Running the service department is hard as an automotive Service Advisor, and even more difficult than ever before with the technician and parts shortages. 

Whose job is it to relay these manufacturing and shipping delays to the customer? The Service Advisor. And with all these communications with customers to be done, Service Advisors have the most stressful positions right now. 

What causes the difficulties and stress automotive Service Advisors face?

The reasons for this high-stress role varies from the working environment to management to a lack of information and knowledge associated with automotive Service Advisors.

Here are the reasons why.

Reason 1- Writing too many ROs

Number one is writing too many ROs. We are asked often to come in and train advisors because the advisors “don’t follow up with customers properly.” But in reality, what we’ve done as leaders is set the advisors up for failure because we expect them to write so many ROs and handle too many customers. 

I heard the other day, during a strategy session with a dealership, their advisors were writing between 30 and 40 a day. And their CSI was inconsistent as a result. 

The problem is, we bring in new advisors and we warm them up with 15-20 ROs, they get a lot of practice in, and they improve. But instead of saying, “okay, get good at these 15 or 20 or 25 ROs,” we just start piling on more and more, there’s never an end. The better they get at writing ROs, the more we pile on.

Reason 2- Lack of techs 

The second one is that automotive Service Advisors don’t have enough techs. There’s a shortage of technicians, as everybody is feeling it. But as a result, Service Advisors can’t get work done. Let’s say your advisor wrote up 20 ROs today, and 10 of them don’t see the shop until tomorrow. Your advisor is not going to call customers and sell an eight hour job. 

When you have cars that came in yesterday that haven’t seen the shop yet and if you don’t have enough techs in the shop to get the work done, your advisors are not going to want to sell more work. 

This is vital especially when CSI is so important. 

Reason 3- Lack of parts

So, automotive Service Advisors already don’t have enough production to get the work done that they could sell. But then there’s the parts side. So even if they do have the people, then they don’t have the parts. 

Quite a few manufacturers right now are really struggling with the parts side of this shortage. And so, the advisors are the ones that have to communicate that to customers. And, recently, customers are using loan cars for almost four or five months, because they’re waiting for a single part. That’s just crazy.


Reason 4- They’re out of control and reactive

Automotive Service Advisors are not at fault for these manufacturing and labor shortages. Which is why they’re out of control, like a headless chicken running around. This lack of control makes them reactive. 

So, they’re waiting for the customer to call them instead of framing the customer or calling the customer first. And you can tell service advisors are writing too many ROs just by seeing how many people stand by their phone at lunchtime. So, if their phone is blowing up at lunchtime then the service advisors haven’t called or communicated enough with their customers. They’re reactive, not proactive. 

In our Service Advisor Training, we teach The Circle of Trust. We talked about a two-hour call, but calling the customer even if you don’t have anything to say just to make them feel safe. They know that they’re on the radar to be assisted instead of in Purgatory.

Reason 5- They are unhealthy

Next, they’re unhealthy in many different ways. I can’t tell you how many times I see how Advisors don’t get to take their lunch break on an 11-hour shift. They don’t leave their desk, which means they resort to unhealthy food. It’s whatever they can grab, because they don’t care what it is.

They’ll have another Red Bull instead of a meal. Red Bull owes the automotive industry a huge thank you, because automotive Service Advisors financially sustain the energy drink business, like Monster and Red Bull. Who even knows what’s in those drinks, but it can’t be good long term. It’s amazing how 99% of people reading this probably have a Monster next to them right now.  

Reason 6- They’re treated like a punching bag 

Going into the last five reasons, number six is that advisors are treated like punching bags– by both customers and management.

This definitely goes hand-in-hand with how they never get acknowledged, unless stuff goes wrong. Really, service, in a lot of ways, especially in a dealership is like growing mushrooms– kept in the dark and barely fed.

Think about an automotive Service Advisor in action. When does someone come and talk to them? The customers will come and talk to him, but only when they’re really angry. Then the managers will go out and talk to them where they’re really angry. Even the techs come and talk to him when they feel like they haven’t done something right.

It’s a whole closed-loop of negative reinforcement there. Literally, if an advisor works five-day shifts and works 11 hours a day, it’s 55 hours weekly of just getting punched and feeling beat.

Reason 7- Automotive Service Advisors are trained less than a Starbucks barista.

Next, they are trained less than a barista working at Starbucks. Most of the training that automotive Service Advisors undergo is from the factory or manufacturer, which is maybe learning simple product knowledge or warranty processes, that sort of thing. 

But, think about doing something as a career or a job, and doing it over and over again, and having very unpredictable results. And only getting acknowledged when things go wrong. Service Advisors, for the most part, fix customer problems, as customers are breaking down, it’s inconvenient.

So the function that Service Advisor Training can play in that is, if you teach them a couple of things that make them more effective, it raises their self-esteem, and they start to have more fun. 

But, being an advisor in certain departments can kill your self esteem. Because no matter what you do, you’re set up to lose by how many ROs you’re writing, by the fact he can’t get work through the shop. 

The turnover rate for the automotive Service Advisor position is insane because of the inadequate or lack of training provided.


Reason 8- They don’t know what they’re selling

Reason eight for why automotive Service Advisors are so stressed out is that they don’t know what they’re selling, which is totally true on many levels. 

The first level being that they have very little product knowledge, so they don’t know why they’re selling coolant or a fuel induction service.

One thing that I’ve always seen to be very effective with selling induction services is having a tech break the top part apart, showing the advisors how much is in there, putting it back together, doing the induction service, and then showing them and even having them drive it before and after. Because there’s a noticeable difference in performance. And so they don’t really understand that, if the tech doesn’t review this process with them.

Then the second level of this confusion is that they don’t understand what they’re selling in the sense that even if they do think they’re selling coolant, water pumps, tires or whatever it is, the magic in being effective at whatever you’re doing as a career is to understand the outcome and the emotion of this path. 

For example, Apple wouldn’t be successful if they were selling hard drives and RAM. Essentially, what they’re selling is a lifestyle, right? So let’s say you’re a Service Advisor to a BMW dealership, you’re selling lifestyle. Right? If you’re a service advisor to a Toyota store, you’re selling peace of mind or an intrinsic value in that sense. 

So, really understand what you’re selling, and it’s not limited to just selling the commodity. And maybe, at the end of the day, what we’re selling is a relationship

Reason 9- They don’t know how they’re paid

Second to last reason is, funnily, most automotive Service Advisors don’t know how they’re paid. And it’s so ironic, because when you talk to a Service Manager or a Dealer, even they pretend like they know, but they don’t know.

I do this all the time in Strategy Sessions, I’d ask “How are the advisors paid? And there’s this long pause, and they go like, “Well, it’s on a sliding scale.” And they’re trying to manage the department through the advisor pay plan, in a sense. They just provide a broad range of what the advisor could make.  

Not only do you have to make the pay plan simple, you have to explain it to them until they understand. And you have to do this over and over and over again. But there’s a lot of leverage in the advisors having a pay plan that they can easily figure out. They’ll start to realize that the work they do today will be reflected in their paychecks.

The other one too, when they don’t know how they’re paid is if they’re paid on a group plan. Which, it never works. I always wish it worked. Every time I’ve been convinced to try a group pay plan where the advisors are splitting the percentage or whatever it is, it never goes as expected.

Reason 10- More systems and programs are added on to their job everyday

And finally, more systems and programs keep getting piled on to the job responsibilities for automotive Service Advisors. They’re the catch all. 

Tablets aren’t the answer. it doesn’t mean that they can’t work, but they’re not a fix-all. If you can’t get your advisors to do walk arounds, then a tablet certainly won’t help with that. It’s gonna actually, in most scenarios, make it worse. And so it’s garbage in and garbage out. You can do it with a piece of paper and a pen. You can’t do it with the tablet.

What we’re seeing with the best service departments is that they have some sort of leadership or systems that aren’t negotiable. Because they’ve conditioned their team to adapt, and also to commit. It’s not like, “Oh, we’re doing it for a week, and then it’s gone.” And that’s all about the leadership in place at the service department and dealership. 


Recap: 10 Reasons Automotive Service Advisors Are So Stressed Out

As a recap, why are automotive Service Advisors so stressed out? 

1) They write too many ROs

2) Not enough techs

3) No parts

4) They’re reactive because they’re out of control

5) The job enforces unhealthy lifestyles

6) They’re treated like a punching bag– only acknowledged when stuff goes wrong

7) They’re trained less than a Starbucks barista. 

8) They don’t know what they’re selling.

9) They don’t understand how they get paid.

10) They’re the catch-all for more systems and programs added

So what can we do about it?

No one understands that being an automotive Service Advisor is one of the most difficult jobs in the store. In fact, because of this, many of their home lives are a disaster. This high-stress and job difficulty can develop into severe anxiety or work depression and burn-out if untreated. 

If you’re a Service Manager, know that your Service Advisor team can benefit from some Service Advisor Training, there’s a plethora of resources available. The health of your Service Advisors reflects the health of your service department and your customer relations.

If you’re a Service Advisor and find yourself relating to this list of reasons, seek stress-management techniques and appoint effective strategies in order to ease your job difficulty and alleviate your stress before it develops into anxiety. Serve yourself, so you can serve others. 

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