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How to find quality service advisors

Thursday, November 15, 2018 - 09:00
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What is a great one worth? Before we can put a value on this we need to define what a good or great service advisor is. Why? Because I promise you, there are far more mediocre and even bad service advisors out there than good or great. How can this be? Because hiring and terminating employees is a hard thing to do and it is easier to keep who you already have at the counter. I’d like you to listen to a former multi-store operator and ATI coach, Paul Marsh, offer you some suggestions on this topic.

Personality vs. technical ability

I am going to get this out of the way first: personality is far more important than experience. I can teach a layperson most everything you would need to know to be a successful service advisor within 60 to 90 days on the job, tops. What I can never teach, and no one can, is the right personality to be successful as a service advisor. What does the right personality look and sound like?

  • This is an oldie but a truth you cannot dispute: you can hear them smiling over the phone. Their tone, energy and voice inflection make the caller feel like their call is important and their business would be appreciated, rather than feeling that the call is an unwelcome interruption.
  • They are social butterflies! The kind of person you can take to a party where they do not know a soul and they are comfortable and happy to meet new people.
  • They have a high need for recognition which drives them to high performance.
  • A high sense of urgency. They can’t wait to do it all!
  • Empathic — they can relate to the level of concern of others and make them feel at ease.
  • MONEY MOTIVATED! They thrive in a pay-for-performance position and are focused on what it takes to maximize their income.
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None of the above is an earth-shattering revelation, right? But if you are being honest, out of the six characteristics I listed, how many can you say this one describes your advisor? I have literally had owners tell me when I bring up a concern about their advisor things like “He is not a people person” and “Once you get to know him he is a good person.” WHAT? A phone call lasts minutes at best, so how can a customer “get to know him” enough to feel like your shop is the place to go? Indifference from the person a consumer deals with is still by far one of the biggest reasons customers quit a business.

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Frequency reports

In a recent coaches’ meeting we were reviewing “frequency reports.” This is an invaluable tool to track the frequency of your customer visits and show how many are one-time, two-time, etc., returning customers. I was astonished to see that at a very successful shop, 53 percent of their customers came to the shop only once. This shop spends good money on their website, search engine optimization and ad words, A LOT of money! But they are clearly NOT giving their customers a compelling reason to return. Their four- and five-time return customers accounted for over half their sales with hundreds of dollars more in ARO but only single-digit percentages of their overall car count. If they could double their four- and five-time return rate they would never need to spend a dime on ad words or social media. They would be rolling in the dough!

I cannot speak to this shop’s advisors or customer experience, but I sure do question them. How do you lose over half of your first-time customers and not think that something is wrong? What impact does a good service advisor have on return rates? I would say they have almost complete control over it except for the percentage of people who move, visitors to the area and other reasons that customers may not return.

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