Monday, November 5, 2012

Eight Habits Of Highly Successful Service Advisors-Part Two

Last month we identified the importance of an Appointment Process. Allowing your customers to "Just Bring It In" will never work and cause your customer to defect. Understanding the benefits will allow you to maximize your appointment system from "day before" preparation to "same day" follow through.

This month's blog, as promised, will cover the next three habits that are crucial in building a strong relationship with every customer in depth. We call this the "Communication Process" and review how important it is to the success of your service operation.

# 2 Daily Action Plan

The "Daily Action Plan" will allow you to prepare for each customer and include the following benefits:
  • Less Stress for the Service Advisor
  • More time to build a relationship with each customer
  • Fewer mistakes which will lead to increased customer confidence
Here's a list of what's in our Daily Action Plan:
  • Appointment List
  • Route Sheet
  • Pre-Write Work Order
  • 27-Point Inspection Form
  • Recall or Campaign Information
  • Appropriate Service Menu
  • Customer History
One of the first things we install is a Route Sheet Process for the Service Advisor. This process is followed throughout the day in order to keep the customer informed on the repair process  from beginning to end. It also allows the Service Advisor to see how much time he/she has to sell each day based on carryovers, appointments, and technician availability. I have found it to be a huge piece of the puzzle when it comes to promising customer pick up times.

The big difference between computerized Route Sheets and paper Route Sheets is that it's always right in front of the Service Advisor as a constant reminder for follow up. Computerized Route Sheets require the Service Advisor to pull the Route Sheet screen up in front of them, which usually only happens when the customer is calling, wondering "What's Up With My Car"?....

Here's a look at ACG's Route Sheet:

Next we pull out the appointment list and start reviewing campaigns, recalls, and of course, customer history. We pre-print a work order so we can review the contact information with the customer for correctness, any notes or recommendations we made from our history review, what the customer is coming in for, and any maintenance needs based on time or mileage.

Many times, we have found that even though your customer reviews your computer screen and agrees that the information is correct, often times, it is not correct. By handing the customer the "pre-write" to review, correct customer information can be assured.

We also have either the advisor or cashier call each customer to confirm the appointment and any "no-shows" from the previous day in order to re-schedule those missed appointments.

Next, we staple any information we need to review with the customer (Menu, Recall, Campaign,  History) and put it in a file or work order holder at the time of each appointment. Arranging the files by appointment,  each advisor knows when the next customer is scheduled to pull up, allowing them time to review the customer's information in order to greet them out at their car by name.

# 3 Meet & Greet

When the customer arrives it's time for the "Third Habit" to come into play, the "Meet and Greet" Process. Now you will see why effectively setting up your Daily Action Plan is so important to this third habit.

Could you imagine your doctor walking into the room to visit with you and he/she hasn't reviewed your file or even know your name?

Same goes for the service customer who shows up for their appointment and you ask the customer what's your name? Or better yet...."Let me go get the VIN number and I'll be right back". This is happening in 90% or more of the dealers we visit and many dealers' wonder why their customers defect!

Let's take a look at some research done by UCLA as they looked at how people communicate. The results of the research came up with three main factors:

  • How you look
  • How you sound
  • What you say
To break it down further they found the communication impact percentages of each to be:

So as you can see it's very important to factor in  how we look, what our body language is telling our customers, the tone of our voice, and last but not least, what we say. We can say the same thing, however how we say it can change the meaning drastically.

So greeting your customer at their vehicle, fully prepared with a "professional greeting" provides your service advisor confidence and your customer a "Great First Impression" of your service operation. Wow! What a start to building a strong customer relationship!

Remember a customer is out of their comfort zone if they step out of their car and greet you first in the service drive. We need to make it convenient for them to do business with us as the customer will remember the advisor first, not the dealership or product.

# 4 Listening Skills

Let's move onto the Fourth Habit which is equally important as any other. As you well know, we have been in hundreds of dealerships and one of the things I have found everywhere is how advisors think FOR the customer, instead of thinking OF the customer.

If I had a dollar for every time an advisor said: "The customer won't do that" I could retire! I wish I could see into the future, however I have not found anyone yet in my 53 years on this earth who can! So why do we always think FOR them instead OF them?

Unfortunately, it's one of those habits that's not easy to break. We have to practice more "Active Listening" if we are ever going to scratch this record and record a new one. Let's take a look at some facts how the average person listens and speaks.

  • We speak around 135-175 words per minute
  • We listen at around 400-500 words per minute

Here's some of the things I have witnessed concerning Service Advisors on the Drive over the years:

  • Not Being Prepared
  • No Eye Contact
  • Ignoring The Customer
  • Interrupting The Customer Before They Finish
  • Assuming That They Already Know What The Customer Is Going To Say
  • External Distractions When Listening To The Customer 
 This is a short list, however it covers a lot of ground. A good start to building an "Active Listening" process in your service operation is to have each advisor take a self-evaluation on how well they listen through a series of ranking questions we have available.

As you can clearly see, if we start practicing an "Active Listening" process using "open ended" questions to encourage the customer to explain the problem, we will accomplish a lot in a short period of time.

Being prepared for the customer before they arrive will greatly assist in the listening process. Now you can see that each one of the "Eight Habits" is like a piece of the puzzle. Once you learn and practice each one with a good coach, you can clearly see how we create a "Wow" experience every time your customer visits.

Always remember a "Satisfied Customer" can go anywhere to get service, but  a "Wowed Customer" will always return!

So building a structured consistent approach to each of these "Eight Habits" is crucial to how your customer views your service operation and if he/she will do business with you in the future.

We call it "The Moment Of Truth!"

Next blog we will dive into the Last four habits; 5.) Walk-Around, 6.) Menu Presentation, 7.) The Customer Promise, and 8.) The Close. If you are serious about making things happen versus waiting for things to happen, call or e-mail us now! Don't wait till the end of the year!

Guy Salkeld is the President and Head Performance Coach of Automotive Consultants Group Inc. The only Results Based High Return Training, Coaching, and Consulting company in the world! To learn more go to  Have a question? E-Mail Guy directly at or Call me direct at: 305-331-3373