I have the privilege from time-to-time to work with service advisors behind the counter. It is interesting to see how easy so many of you make it look when I can see it is so involved. To the customer, it looks easy! They just come in and drop the keys off. The service advisor calls and tells them the service needed and the cost involved. They return and pick up their finished vehicle and pay. End of story. Seems so flawless and effortless.
I recently worked with a service advisor who does an outstanding job and she has only been working in this industry since February. She is great on the telephone as well as in person, always sounding so calm, pleasant and helpful. What the customer doesn’t see is the effort she has to put forth for every job. Finding the parts, pricing and ordering take time. She is also very concerned and a bit apprehensive when it comes to selling the big ticket jobs to the customer but she does it well! I think it is because she looks at it as ‘helping’ the customer, not just ‘servicing’ the customer.
We did discuss those customers who turn down certain services. I’ve seen this happen all over the country. She had one that turned down a brake fluid flush but did all the other recommended services. Another shop had customers continually refusing air filter replacement. These are the kinds of things that make you go… hmmmmm.
We can only surmise that the customers have to pick and choose the most pressing items because of budget restraints. That is understandable. The big question is…how to get that service accomplished and when? The items refused aren’t necessarily big ticket items…in fact…the majority of items customers seem to be turning down are inexpensive. The fact that you recommended them means these services need to be done and sooner rather than later.
These unsold items mean the customers’ cars aren’t as safe as they could be and it also means your shop is losing out on dollars sold. These small items add up to big dollars over time! If you feel the service can truly wait until the next visit 3,000 miles or so down the road, that is fine. Just make sure you note that the service was turned down and emphasize its importance when the customer comes in again. If you feel it really needs to be dealt with sooner, a follow up call or an email reminder a couple of weeks after their initial visit is a good idea.
You might also want to use visual aids. Showing a customer a ‘dirty’ air filter and telling them what the filter’s purpose is may prove helpful. Showing them what ‘clean’ fluid looks like as opposed to ‘dirty’ fluid might also give them a sense of urgency. Should your parts supplier actually be running a special a few weeks later on the refused service/repair part let the customer know. It may encourage them to take care of the situation sooner rather than later.
I do admire the work of the service advisor. Dealing with customers by phone and in person, translating the notes from the technicians, pricing the work and then selling it to the customer requires skill and diplomacy…oh…and keeping the boss happy too! You have to meet those quotas!
Keep up the good work and don’t hesitate to contact me with questions and concerns! I’ll keep writing to educate your customers on automotive service and repair and you keep telling them at the counter. Together, we’ll ‘help’ them understand the importance of timely service and repair.