THE WORK OF A SERVICE ADVISOR

by | Nov 11, 2013 | Auto, Service Advisor, Service Department, Service Department Training | 5 comments

Whether they’re brand spanking new or old but still reliable, all cars need servicing.

It can be simple or it can be something that requires a lot of work. It may seem overwhelming at first, but with the proper training, and a scalable system in place, you will find that the work of an automotive service advisor can be very straightforward, and highly rewarding.

Whatever the case may be – and it is on a case to case basis – these vehicles need to go to an automotive service department. The person they'll most likely come in contact with on a regular basis will be the automotive service advisors.

Service advisors are the frontline of an automotive dealer's service department, just like the salespeople are for the dealer's showroom. Their job is to basically greet the customer and interact with them throughout the whole process of diagnosing the issues with, and performing service on, the customer's vehicle.

They also wear a multitude of hats. On one hand, they're counselors. They listen to what the customer is saying regarding the issues and concerns with the vehicle, and then they let their team do their thing to accommodate the customer, and diagnose and fix those issues.

On the other hand, they're also a trusted friend. They let customers know what needs to be done and how much it'll cost. They also let customers know what else should be done for the vehicle on future visits.

To put it simply, automotive service advisors are customer service representatives for their respective department. They set the tone as to how the customer sees the dealership as a whole since they are often the first person a customer sees when they bring their vehicles in for service. At the same time, the relationship they build with the clientele is as important of a factor in customer retention than the service itself.

  • Customer relations. This is what service advisors do. As mentioned above, they are often the first ones the customer sees, but they are also the ones who interact the most with the customer. As such, they are responsible for building the relationship between the customer and the shop or dealership.
  • Booking. When customers call in to schedule their service appointment, it's the service advisors who put them down for the date and time. In this capacity, the service advisor makes sure that the different appointments don't overlap on the schedule so as to not keep the customer waiting or, in the worst-case scenario, not be able to finish the job because of time constraints.
  • Follow-up. Usually when customers leave their vehicles for servicing, they either go home or back to their workplace. That's because the work often doesn't start until diagnostics are done, and waiting takes up time that a lot of people don't have. That's why it's important to follow up with any testing and diagnostic results. The follow-up can include recommended actions or services and whether they should be done right away or can be held off for a future visit. At the same time, the service advisor will also discuss pricing and time requirements with the customer. Basically, they explain everything that's done or is being done so the customer is kept in the loop and will know what to expect when they pick up their vehicle.
  • Complaints. While it's something we'd all prefer not to do, handling customer complaints is part of the job for a service advisor, or a customer service representative in any field. This means that they need to be as patient and as diplomatic as they possibly can when dealing with complaints, whether they are real or perceived. How the service advisor handles this can determine whether the customer will come back or look for servicing elsewhere.
  • Administrative. While customer relations take up a good amount of a service advisor's time, there's also the administrative side of things because record-keeping and things of that nature also fall under their purview. If the administrative work doesn't get done, then servicing can't start and follow-ups can't be made.
  • Work orders. To ensure the right work is done to the right vehicle, the service advisor needs to create the work orders that describe in detail what issues or problems were found in the vehicle and what can be done to fix them. Basically, the work order is the checklist that service technicians follow in order to fully service the vehicle in question. Without it, they'd have a hard time figuring out where to start and where it ends.
  • Customer records. Much like doctors and dentists have patient records, service advisors have records of their customers' vehicles. Keeping an updated customer record on what services their vehicles have undergone in the shop is really important because it serves as the basis for what should be done next or what part of the car should be given extra attention the next time they come in. This way, it's easier to narrow down the cause should the same issue arise after servicing.
  • Invoice and billing. Of course, the dealership won't get any revenue if the customer isn't billed for the service done. An important job for a service advisor is creating an invoice and billing the customer based on the work order they agreed on. Once the customer has been billed, the service advisor also needs to handle the money or process the transaction electronically if no cash is involved. Again, this is an important job because the service advisor has to make sure that everything adds up to the right amount.

When it comes to working as a service advisor, you need certain skills to succeed and be successful in that position. Neglecting these skills will not only be a detriment to your own advancement, but also to the entire service team and the business as a whole!

  • People skills. This goes without saying. Remember: you're the face of the shop or dealership that people see when they bring their vehicle in for servicing. As such, you'll need to be able to interact with them in such a way that they feel relaxed and enjoy the experience.
  • Communication skills. You'll be talking to a lot of people. Not just customers, but also technicians and other advisors. This means you need to be able to articulate yourself well so no misunderstanding happens that jeopardizes not just the work on the vehicles but also the relationship between the customer and the dealership.
  • Comprehension skills. It's not enough that you're able to make other people understand what you're saying. That's kind of the bare minimum… Comprehension on your part is also an important skill to have so you can better understand what the customer's concerns are or give them the answers they need for their questions.
  • Mechanical and engineering skills. More specifically, anything that has to do with automotive servicing and the like. You'll be around machines and vehicles a lot, and that means you need to be able to understand what goes on with everything and know what problems might arise from vehicles that are brought in. This will also help you understand the customer's concerns and make the diagnostic process a lot easier.
  • Troubleshooting skills. As a service advisor, you'll be asked to troubleshoot a lot of things that are seemingly going on at the same time. You need be able to think on your feet and be able to come up with a solution at a moment's notice.
  • Writing and math skills. This is a given, too. Remember: you'll be writing work orders and invoices so it goes without saying that you need a fairly good grasp of writing and math. This way, your orders won't be hard to understand and the invoices won't be wrong.

As for training to be a service advisor, you might need to get some automotive technical knowledge as a start. You might also be required to get certified for different aspects of automotive engineering and such. There are usually classes and exams award you these qualifications. 

At the same time, you shouldn't stop training after you've already become a service advisor. Continuing to learn is a must so that you can be up-to-date on the changes and developments in the automotive servicing world. 

What's your take on automotive service advisors? Is it a good career path for you? Comment below.

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5 Comments

  1. Dan Pariseau

    I have a question, Is it the responsibility of a SERVICE ADVISOR, to inform their customers of any or all warranty issues that directly involves their vehicle. Is it their responsibility to let me know their is a active warranty for a part in my car that may become faulty and my shut the car down. That I should be advised to set up a service time to have my car inspected, making sure that this part is working properly.

    Reply
    • Chris Collins

      We answered your question on an upcoming SDR. Email us at [email protected] for some free swag!

      Reply
  2. Josh adams

    Hey Chris, I’m a service advisor/service manager at a franchise independent. I originally worked for a local Ford store and did pretty decent as far as my pay and making life long customers that I still speak with even though I’m no longer there. My question for you is I left the dealership life for an opportunity to become a service manager at a European service shop what they did not tell me until after I started there was I was the service manager, the advisor, hr etc… due to me being the only one up front. Long story shoart I left that place and came back to an independent I worked at previously as an advisor with the same pay I made previously just with the service manager title but with pretty much the same responsibilities plus more clerical stuff. My question is I’ve been offered an opportunity to be the service manager with a manufacturer dealership which has a lot better pay scale but also more hours. I want to become the best service manager I can but I’m not sure if I should stay at the company I’m with now as I just started less than a month ago or if I should take the opportunity to work for a dealer as a service manager. To be honest the advisor/management side I’ve been doing now has burned me out with all of the multiple hats I have to wear instead of having the opportunity to focus on doing what I feel a manager should be doing and that is leading and keeping customers happy. What are your thoughts? Thanks

    Oh the pay difference is pretty significant As I will probably top out at no more than 65k as I have to split the bonuses currently where I’m at the with service manager/general manager 😂 only benefit here is no weekends.

    Reply
  3. Aira

    i am currently a service advisor.
    ive been for 3 years. but it seems i always have a problem with how i communicate. how do i get better?

    Reply
    • Chris Collins

      We JUST did a podcast on this! You can check it out here.

      Reply

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