Your next service advisor may already be working for you.

By Tom Massengale

I hear it nearly every time I’m in a dealership: “We need a service advisor,” or “It’s so hard to find service advisors.” I see postings everyday from dealers looking for service advisors, I’ve seen some that even offer sign on bonuses and pay moving expenses. According to a 2015 NADA study service advisors have a annual turn over rate of 41%, second only to salespeople. The overall (all employees) average turn over rate for a new car dealership, according to the study, is 39.4%. Finding new service advisors on a regular basis may just be a fact of life. So that begs the next question:

Where is my next service advisor coming from?

Your next service advisor may be closer than you think and already working for you. If you have a service BDC you have a potential “farm team” for service advisors, if you have a solid training program in place. And that’s a big IF.

Think about it; a service BDC appointment scheduler is doing basically the same job as a service advisor with a few exceptions; working with a customer face-to-face and selling parts and labor. A good – or well trained – BDC appointment taker is “selling” the appointment and even up-selling services on the phone. I realize there are specific tasks and duties that a service advisor has such as working with tech’s, writing RO’s and in some cases dispatching work etc., but all that has to be trained if you’re hiring a newbie anyway. A BDC appointment taker already posses half the skill sets of a new hire service advisor plus they already know the dealership, management and culture.

You could make the advancement as a part of your hiring process for the service BDC. Look at it from their prospective, they are interviewing for a postilion that pays $12.00 to $14.00 and hour and in 9 months to a year they could move into a position that pays $50K plus. For the right person that is serious motivation. Most BDC reps are women and we are always trying to figure out how to get more women involved in our industry. A lot of women wouldn’t consider the position, even though their qualified, due to the stereotypes of working in a service department – an existing employee comes to the position without any pre-judgment.

It’s not for everybody! When hiring a BDC representative look for the following qualities:

A person with great verbal skills.

Someone that’s not afraid of the hours.

A person that would be interested in advancement.

Highly organized individual.

After you’ve hired the BDC representative look for the following qualities and working skills:

Can that person answer basic questions, like how to respond to a customer asking if _____ repair is covered under their warranty?

Do they know how the maintenance scheduled/system works on your make?

How comfortable are they asking for additional services or repairs?

How is their overall interaction with your customers?

What is their conversion ratio of phone call to appointments?

Have they shown good multi-tasking skills?

Are they interacting with the rest of your team in a positive manner?

Have them work on the service drive for a day or two and get their reaction.

Of course, none of this will work without a solid hiring practice and initial training program for your service BDC. If you do a have a service BDC and some turnover of advisors, who knows you next advisor may only be steps away from your service drive.

About the author:

Tom Massengale is a nationally known and well respected speaker and trainer specializing in service BDC, appointment scheduling and call flow process.  Tom has owned and operated Sterling Partners, the parent company of incomingservicecalls.com, since 1990.  He has worked with premier automotive companies and OEM’s like BMW of North American, Mazda, Sonic Automotive and BG Products.

When Tom is not traveling around the country working with dealership service BDC’s, he’s a professional Indy Car team spotter.

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