Tips & Qualifications to Become an Automotive Service Advisor
The automotive service advisor is an important team member in any auto repair shop or dealership. As the link between customers and technicians, the advisor greets customers, listens to their vehicle concerns, recommends solutions, provides repair estimates, and ensures satisfaction with the service. The job requires certain skills and automotive knowledge, but can be an engaging career for those who enjoy assisting people and are passionate about cars. Here’s what you need to excel as a service advisor and how to find the best automotive service advisor training.
Skills Needed to Be a Good Service Advisor
To thrive as a service advisor, strong communication abilities are essential. You need to listen attentively to customers, clearly explain repair options, and smoothly manage difficult conversations. Excellent verbal and written skills enable you to interact effectively with customers and technicians. Technical knowledge is also important, even though you are not a technician. You should comprehend basic automotive systems and terminology to grasp customer issues and explain them to techs.
Customer service skills like patience, empathy, and a desire to help customers are vital. You must build trust and handle complaints in a professional manner. Organization is key with this job, as you juggle paperwork, appointments, estimates, and inventory for multiple customers and repairs. Being detail-oriented helps you avoid errors. The ability to multitask is critical, since you often handle several customers at once while coordinating with technicians.
What Exactly Does an Automotive Service Advisor Do?
The primary role of the service advisor is to serve as the intermediary between customers and technicians. Key duties include greeting customers, listening to their concerns, asking questions to diagnose problems, inspecting vehicles, and verifying complaints. You determine necessary repairs and provide written estimates for labor and parts costs. An important aspect is liaising between techs and clients to ensure mutual understanding of the work required.
You contact customers if extra work is needed and give progress updates. Once repairs are done, you explain the work completed and the charges to customers. You also manage customer invoices, paperwork, and follow-ups like scheduling future maintenance.
Tips for Challenges and Stresses for Automotive Service Advisors
Working as a service advisor can be demanding. Some tips for managing common challenges are: deal calmly with angry customers by listening closely and apologizing for inconvenience while focusing on resolving the issue; avoid getting overwhelmed by making checklists and setting priorities, and requesting help from colleagues when needed; double-check your work to confirm customers’ contact information, repair orders, and estimates to prevent errors.
Next, build rapport with technicians to foster teamwork between the front and back of the shop; set boundaries after hours and avoid taking work home in order to get proper rest and stay energized; ask questions instead of pretending to know something you don’t – learn from senior advisors to continually gain knowledge.
The Steps to Become an Automotive Service Advisor
If this career appeals to you, typical steps are: earn a high school diploma or equivalent, with helpful classes in math, technology, business, and communication; consider taking automotive technology classes to build knowledge of vehicle systems; start in an entry-level customer service or technician role at a dealership to gain hands-on experience; attain ASE certification in a relevant area like service consulting to demonstrate competency.
You should also check for local licensing requirements, as some states mandate certification; build your skills over 1-2 years by shadowing experienced advisors, developing technical expertise, and gaining customer service abilities; apply for open advisor positions once you meet qualifications, emphasizing your automotive background and communication skills.
The Importance of Automotive Service Department KPIs
Key performance indicators, or KPIs, are crucial metrics for monitoring the success and profitability of an auto service department. Tracking key data points over time provides visibility into the health of the business and helps managers identify areas needing improvement. KPIs quantify service advisor performance, technician productivity, customer satisfaction, and financial metrics. By regularly analyzing service department KPIs, dealerships can optimize operations, maximize revenue, and provide top-level customer service. Implementing a KPI tracking system should be a priority for every service manager.
The Most Important KPIs
While many factors may be measured, these are some of the most critical KPIs for auto service departments:
- Gross Profit Percent – Revenue from labor and parts sales versus associated costs
- Hours Sold Per Repair Order – Total hours billed to customers divided by number of repair orders
- Effective Labor Rate – Total labor sales revenue divided by total labor hours sold
- First Time Fix Rate – Number of jobs fixed correctly the first time
- Average Repair Order – Total sales revenue divided by number of repair orders
- Car Count – Total number of vehicles serviced in a period
- Customer Satisfaction – Scores and feedback from customer surveys
- Customer Retention – Percentage of customers bringing vehicles back for service
Gross Profit Percent
A top KPI for service departments is gross profit percentage, which measures revenue from labor and parts sales versus the costs associated with them. To calculate:
(Total Labor Sales + Total Parts Sales – Total Labor Costs – Total Parts Costs) / (Total Labor Sales + Total Parts Sales)
A gross profit percent benchmark for service departments is 50-60%. This metric helps managers ensure pricing and costs are optimized. If the percentage dips too low, it may require raising labor rates or renegotiating part costs with suppliers to improve profitability.
Hours Sold Per Repair Order
This metric calculates total billed labor hours divided by the total number of repair orders. It gauges technician productivity and efficiency. Benchmark target hours sold per RO is 2.5 – 3. More hours sold means technicians are working billable hours versus downtime. Low hours per repair order can indicate inefficiencies in operations or the service advisor failing to sell work. Managers should monitor this weekly and investigate dips.
The Effective Labor Rate
Effective labor rate reveals how much profit is made from labor sales versus labor hours. Calculate it by taking total labor sales revenue divided by total labor hours sold. This helps determine optimal labor rates to cover costs and make a profit on billed hours. Target range is $110 – $125 per labor hour. If the effective rate is lower, shops can consider increasing labor rates.
Client Retention and Satisfaction
Loyal, satisfied customers are critical for service departments. Client retention rate can be calculated by looking at the percentage of customers who return for subsequent service visits or repairs within a 12 month period. A strong retention rate is 70% or more. Customer satisfaction is measured by collecting feedback through surveys and online reviews. Top service departments maintain high customer retention and satisfaction ratings. This requires advisors building rapport and trust while providing quality, transparent service. Technicians must complete repairs right the first time. Maintaining strong KPIs for customer retention and satisfaction leads to a thriving auto service business.
Get in Touch with DealerPRO Training for Expert Automotive Service Advisor Training
To learn more about best practices for managing a profitable, efficient service department, connect with DealerPRO Training. We offer comprehensive certification courses for automobile service advisors and service managers. Taught by leading industry experts, our automotive service advisor training will equip you with the skills needed to improve key performance metrics, increase customer satisfaction, and maximize profits. Learn how to become an elite advisor who makes the service department invaluable to the whole dealership. Contact DealerPRO Training to further your education and career as a top-tier automotive service advisor with automotive service advisor training.