Service Advisors: The Face of Your Dealership

Your service advisors might not think of themselves as marketers, but the way they deal with customers could be the most telling part of your dealership's marketing program. Service advisors have more contact with your customers than do your salespeople or managers. They are the face of your dealership. The relationships they have with customers, good or bad, are key not only to a profitable service department but to your future sales.

Who is Your Dream Client?

Consider the types of customers you want to bring into your service department:

  1. True advocates who tell others about how pleased they are to do business with you and who might even write positive online reviews about your service
  2. Loyal customers who return for service on a regular basis
  3. Occasional customers who are willing to pay your asking price if their issue cannot be fixed elsewhere
  4. Potential customers willing to pay their price for the service you provide
  5. Past customers who haven’t returned for service recently

Service advisors can generate more business with these types of customers by building relationships with them and making them advocates of your service department and dealership. This will only happen if they employ the proper strategy to meet these goals.

Six Chances to Get it Right

Every day, service advisors have six points of contact where they can be marketing heroes:

  1. The initial phone call from the customer
  2. When the customer drops off their unit for service
  3. With a follow-up call to consultatively “sell” the service the unit requires
  4. In their delivery procedure after the service has been performed
  5. With a follow-up call after the visit
  6. With a call to remind a customer it is time for scheduled service

Three of the six are face-to-face opportunities. When a customer drops off his unit, the service advisor makes a first impression – and as we know, first impressions last; they are your best opportunity to demonstrate how much you want their business and your interest in solving their problem efficiently.

The Price is -- Not the Main Point

Think price is the reason customers don’t return to a dealership for service? Price doesn’t even rank among the top four most common factors, which are:

  1. The unit wasn’t ready when promised.
  2. The bill exceeded the estimate.
  3. The customer didn’t feel like they were important to the service advisor or dealership.
  4. They were treated inattentively or otherwise poorly on the phone when they called about their unit.

Price isn’t an issue when the service advisor explains the value of the service, that the short-term investment will produce long-term value. For those customers with spending limits, often there are opportunities to provide pricing options, so-called good, better and best options. For example, parts like batteries can vary in pricing depending upon the anticipated life of the battery.

An effective service advisor will break recommendations into steps and schedule visits to get work done according to the customer’s budget and schedule. A good service advisor can counter a price objection with the dealer’s expertise, the specialized equipment being used on their unit, the repair warranty, and assurances that parts and materials are disposed of in an environmentally responsible manner.

Words Matter

Communicating effectively with a customer can be a real competitive advantage. Service advisors win customer confidence when they use their customers’ time efficiently. Much of the delivery process can be done electronically, via text or email. Dealerships are even using videos featuring service technicians showing and explaining the problem and requesting approval to proceed with the repair.

The customer’s experience is your brand. A dealer must create a friendly, comfortable experience that will produce repeat business, create continuity within your service department and result in more consistent income. Service advisors are the face of your dealership, the gateway to future business. You need to be sure they understand that and build your practices and procedures around it.

For information on how the ensure your service advisors are effective marketers for your dealership, contact Rex Collins at rcollins@hbkcpa.com or (317) 504-7900

About the Author(s)

Rex is a Principal of HBK CPAs & Consultants and directs the firm’s Dealership Group. He has worked extensively in the dealership industry since 1984 as a department manager, a general manager and an owner, as well as providing tax, accounting and operational consulting services exclusively to dealers as an independent CPA.

This experience includes working closely with hundreds of dealers from coast-to-coast since 1987 on creative tax planning and financial statements issues. He provides clients with a wide range of transaction work services, and consults for them in specialty areas such as operations, government regulatory compliance, valuations and M&A feasibility studies.

Rex is active in many professional associations. He is the current Chairman of the BDO Dealership Industry Group, contributes articles and commentary to dealership industry publications, is frequently called upon to speak to industry associations and conferences, provides expert testimony, and is regularly quoted by industry and the general media.

Hill, Barth & King LLC has prepared this material for informational purposes only. Any tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or under any state or local tax law or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions regarding the matter.

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