Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Three Symptoms Of A Service Advisor Problem

The Three Symptoms Of A Service Advisor Problem


Eric M.  Twiggs

“It's easy to look back and see it, and it's easy to give the advice. But the sad fact is, most people don't look beneath the surface until it's too late.”    Wendelin Van Draanen

“Greg”, and I were struggling to figure out why his car count wasn’t improving.  He had ten five star google reviews.  When I “google searched” all of the primary automotive search terms for his area, I found him on the first page and in the top spot.

His website was so strong that I would send the link to my other clients as an example of what to do.  “Steve”, his service advisor had been with him for seven years and had forgotten more about the automotive business than the average person knew.

“So how is Steve performing?” I asked. “Eric, Steve isn’t the problem. He’s my most dependable employee!” In an effort to trust but verify,   I decided to have one of my fellow coaches call the shop posing as a customer in need of brake service. 

To my surprise, Steve made no attempt to get the caller’s name and phone number, or to invite him to the shop. I personally reviewed the results of the mystery call with Steve and he confirmed that he understood and committed to do better

In the following weeks, I had two different coaches conduct two additional phone shops, and the results were the same.  No attempts were made to invite the caller to the location. 

Business declined to the point where Greg had to lay Steve off and take over the service writer duties himself.  It took eight weeks to find a qualified replacement.  During this time span, the sales and car count trends took an interesting turn.

For the better!! When Steve was writing service the shop averaged $14,000 per week in sales with 35 cars.    Greg averaged $19,000 per week with 40 cars.  The only change to the business was Greg taking over at the counter.

Here’s what I learned from this experience:  Consistently bad phone shops are symptoms of a service advisor problem.  You may be thinking: “But Eric, it’s the holiday season and you’re being too hard on Steve.  Failing multiple phone shops isn’t a big problem.” 

Well, consider the following math:  Let’s assume that by focusing more on the phones you only acquired two additional customers per day that normally wouldn’t have come in.  

Over five days that’s ten customers.  If you have a $400 average repair order, that’s an additional $4,000 per week in revenue. (10 X $400=$4,000

By not answering the phones correctly, your writer would be costing you $208,000 in potential sales over fifty two weeks! ($4,000 X 52=$208,000)  This is why I live by the following motto:  If car count drops, do a phone shop. 

Failing multiple shops isn’t the only symptom.  Keep reading to learn about two more symptoms of a bad service advisor

Common Complaints

During the eight weeks that Greg covered the counter, he had a total of thirteen customer’s mention how they were glad to see Steve gone!  Several of these patrons commented that if Steve was still employed, they wouldn’t have come back. 

Greg was surprised because he only heard three customer complaints about Steve in the past six months.  All three mentioned that Steve was very short with them and came across as being rude.  Greg didn’t realize that these common complaints were just the tip of the iceberg.

A 2014 retail industry study concluded that 96% of unhappy customers will never complain. The study also found that 91% of these patrons will never return. 

To make matters worse, they will tell up to fifteen of their friends about their experience.  If you have three customers voicing the same concern, you have a much bigger problem brewing beneath the surface. 

Pay close attention to those common complaints you receive about your writer.  If three people who don’t know each other share the same opinion, it’s just tip if the iceberg, and the second symptom of a service advisor problem.

Blaming “They”

A few weeks ago, I was speaking with a service advisor who was in town attending class.   He told me that his shop was struggling to stay afloat.  When I asked him about using the parts matrix, he said “They think we’re too expensive.” 

When I suggested offering every customer an exit appointment, he responded:” “they don’t like to schedule in advance.”  I asked him about making follow-up calls to which he replied: “They think it’s too pushy”   The Twiggs translation for the word “they” is “I.” “They” is the signal of a limiting belief and a symptom of a service advisor problem. 

He was really saying “I think we’re too expensive”; “I don’t like to schedule in advance”; and “I think making follow up calls is being pushy.” 

I’ve discovered that 80% of a struggling shop leaders issues are due to mindset, with only 20% resulting from skill set.  In other words, how you think drives what you do.

Simply addressing skill set doesn’t solve the problem.  The key is to address their mindset by asking them to explain how your request is good for the car, the customer, and the company. 

This level of dialogue will give you the opportunity to address any limiting beliefs that are causing problems below the surface. 


So there you have it.  Consistently bad phone shops, common complaints, and blaming “they” are the three symptoms of a service advisor problem. 

If you address these issues head-on, making the top shop list will only be the tip of your success iceberg.  You will have more profit and happy customers beneath the surface!

Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach

PS.  Email etwiggs@autotraining.net to receive a service advisor assessment checklist to help you overcome basic challenges before they become a bigger problem.