By Tiffany Peeler, VP of Sales & Operations, Proactive Dealer Solutions
Well-trained service advisors are pivotal to a dealership’s success. Great service advisors sell in the lane and boost RO dollars, while inexperienced ones simply write work orders. There are no minimum requirements from dealer groups or OEMs when it comes to training, but we expect advisors to excel at customer service and sales skills. How is that fair?
Service advisors can capitalize on additional revenue opportunities – with the right training, teamwork, and technology. This is even more important as inventory levels begin to normalize and more dealerships lean on fixed ops to meet revenue goals. To understand what’s needed, focus on the following.
Develop a training program – or find someone who can.
Service advisors should be trained on customer experience, sales skills, vehicle walk-arounds, and objection handling. The last one is key to upselling recommended or needed services. Failure breeds fatigue. The more often an advisor hears “no” from a customer, the less likely that advisor is to continue presenting vehicle needs and services that fix the needs.
The ability of the advisor to present recommended or needed services properly will have a huge impact. Most just present problems and ask customers if they want to fix them. This is not the way to get maximum results. The advisor needs to focus on communication so the customer understands WHY they should give the green light.
This is just one example of how training can change the advisor’s mindset from one that takes orders to one that provides value by recommending additional services that benefit driver safety and vehicle investment.
If this isn’t something you have the time to dig into, bring in industry experts to help. Once someone takes the reins of training, things get a lot easier.
The differentiator is teamwork.
Everyone from the service manager to service advisors to the BDC team needs to be on the same page to promote success. Too often the BDC agent scheduling an appointment will tell the customer about a recommended service, but in the lane the advisor will say it’s not necessary. Or, the BDC agent won’t look up additional recommended services so when the advisor brings it up in the lane, the customer is not primed to grant permission.
Everyone in our industry knows we’re battling the negative perception that dealerships are out to rip off customers. Inconsistent communication between departments further erodes credibility. I recommend holding monthly meetings with all key stakeholders – including service manager, advisors, and BDC manager. Decide a focus for the month, whether that’s recommended services, factory recalls, or weather-specific services. With a monthly focus, departments can communicate the same message to customers which builds credibility.
The BDC can still set-up the advisor as the expert by stating, for example, that “vehicles with your current mileage normally require a tire rotation but the service advisor will confirm for sure when he inspects your vehicle.” The BDC has planted the seed in the customer’s mind, the customer doesn’t feel pressured, and the advisor is teed-up for a sale. That’s a win-win.
Make technology work for your advisors.
Most advisors are swamped with belly-to-belly customers, ringing phones, and vehicle walkarounds – and now we want them to sell more? Sounds crazy, right? It’s not if you give them the proper tools to help.
Ringing phones are the easiest problem to fix. Dealerships large and small have seen great success with a Digital Voice Assistant (DVA) to answer and appoint inbound service calls. A DVA answers 100 percent of calls and can schedule an appointment faster than a human. It follows the rules of your online scheduler to optimize your bays and techs.
The best DVAs can also use a vehicle VIN to look up and appoint recommended maintenance or factory recalls. Internal research shows that with a DVA, recall upsells are $270 higher and scheduled maintenance upsells are $60 higher than the average RO of $331.
Even if the customer does not schedule upsell services over the phone, the seeds have been planted for the advisor to bring services up in the lane and explain why they are needed. And the advisor has more time to spend with customers and sell more services because the DVA has ringing phones covered.
It’s not fair to expect service writers to magically transform into service advisors without the proper training, management support, and technology solutions. Yes, taking an advisor out of the store for a couple of days to attend training is stressful. But when that employee returns and boosts productivity and sales, the results will be more than worth it.