Spotlight on Service Advisors

For customers who visit a service department, a Service Advisor is often their first point of contact.

By Susan Gubasta

This column is part of an ongoing series in which I highlight different positions within the dealership to educate readers on the many career opportunities, in accounting, fixed operations, human resources, detailing, business development and digital marketing, to name a few.

This week I will focus on the Service Advisor – in this case, John Bates, who has worked at my Toyota dealership for 25 years. (We have both men and women Service Advisors, which is common in the retail automobile industry.)

For customers who visit a service department, a Service Advisor is often their first point of contact. John’s job is to greet customers and to find out what type of service they are looking for.

On any given day, John wears many hats. He interacts with customers; relays instructions to the Shop Foreman to ensure that vehicles are delivered on time to and from the shop; and conveys information regarding the vehicle back to the customer.

John records the car’s mileage and serial number to ensure that the correct car matches the repair order, as some clients own more than one car and mix-ups can occur.

In some instances, our Shop Foreman will road test a vehicle to see if he can pinpoint the source of a problem. If a safety concern comes to light during a road test or a visual inspection, then John will bring this to a customer’s attention, as safety is a priority.

Once John determines the type of service that is required – structural, mechanical, electronic – he opens a work order and a technician is assigned to work on that vehicle. The technician will isolate the problem and report his findings back to John.

After the recommended work has been determined, John advises the customer and provides an estimate and a turnaround time. If new repair issues arise and there are additional costs associated with them, John contacts the customer to get an okay before going ahead with the repairs.

When the estimate is approved, John instructs the technician to go ahead with the repairs.

Occasionally, unforeseen events occur that are beyond the Service Advisor’s control. A number of things can hold up the repair process – parts availability or a longer installation process.

If a maintenance or repair work is not ready on time, it creates unique challenges for customers. John must be sensitive to this when he contacts the customer to discuss the issue with him/her.

After the scheduled mechanical work is finished, a quality control person is assigned to road test the vehicle. The quality control person checks that the technician’s work is accurate and complete.  This is to ensure our objective of Fixed Right, First Time.

If the quality control person issues a ‘pass’ on a vehicle, then the work order is returned to John, who reviews it carefully to make sure that all work has been performed exactly as outlined in the estimate. At this time, John also checks for warranty items and makes sure that the invoice is correct before the customer sees it.

As with many skilled professions, Service Advisors are constantly learning. They regularly participate in online training sessions to learn about new vehicles and technologies. By continuing to refine their knowledge and skills, Service Advisors provide a high level of service to their customers and to their dealerships. They are trusted professionals.

Being a Service Advisor at a new car dealership is personally rewarding. John will admit that no two days are alike, and that each job is a challenge.

The hectic pace of the Service Department requires Service Advisors who thrive under pressure and who enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done.

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