Keys for Producing Top Service Advisors
Jeffrey Krasner has a passion for producing unrivaled customer service. And, the director of service operations for Herb Chambers Toyota of Auburn (Mass.) learned long ago the key to achieving top CSI scores.
The most underrated elements when it comes to keeping dealership customers happy, Krasner feels, are the facility’s service advisors; if they’re not effective, customers can get frustrated quickly, taking their business elsewhere.
“They’re the liaison between the customer and the technician,” Krasner says of service advisors.
“It’s funny, because most dealers concentrate on the sales end of it. But the fact of the matter is, the advisors press flesh daily—with more clients than a salesman probably sees in a month.”
Because service advisors play such an integral role at dealerships, Krasner watches his group of eight such employees closely, noting the KPIs achieved in areas such as hours per repair order or effective labor rate. Yet, he has learned other, often overlooked factors can provide an indication of just how productive service advisors are, too.
Krasner, whose department does $6 million in annual revenue, provides his tips for ensuring that your service advisors are supremely productive.
Stress the Importance of Following Processes.
Once a proper procedure is established for service advisors in your department, it’s imperative that it be followed, step by step, every time. That consistency leads to efficiency at Herb Chambers Toyota, where service advisors are instructed to do pre-writes, note any open recalls, and lead clients on a thorough vehicle walk-around in the service drive, during which any areas with issues, such as tires or alignment, are noted.
Once “you set up a process, you’ve got to live by that process,” says Krasner, whose service department produces an average monthly car count near 1,900. “You’ve got to keep reviewing it.”
Keep Each KPI in Perspective.
Krasner frequently delves into his facility’s CDK DMS setup to take note of KPIs and monitor advisor recap reports and daily advisor summaries. Yet, he knows it’s the sum of all tracked statistics that matter and not any one, specific category.
“I look at effective labor rate, and hours per repair order,” Krasner notes. “I like to be able to remove customer pay repair orders versus maintenance repair orders—the whole idea is to try to convert [the maintenance repair order] into a higher-grossing customer pay repair order. The more you can convert, obviously the better your gross is going to be. So I look at that regularly, especially at month’s end.”
But he is also mindful of how some service advisors can manipulate a labor rate to artificially inflate hours per repair order. As a result, he takes note of several factors that can gauge an advisor’s performance.
“I look at their tire sales, their alignment sales, the battery sales. … I look at what they sell and what they don’t, and try to counsel them,” he says.
Observe Advisors Closely.
Krasner prides himself on helping the next generation in the auto industry. That approach has served his workplace well, judging by the fact Herb Chambers Toyota consistently boasts CSI scores of 94 or better.
“Watching them is everything,” Krasner says of inexperienced service advisors. “It’s all about critiquing them and making them better. Because the better they are, the better we’re all going to fair.”
He also makes sure that advisors are aware of not just their own performance metrics, but also those of co-workers. That tends to inspire friendly competition that can pay dividends for a facility.
“I want them to be competitive,” Krasner says of his advisors. “Nobody gets out of bed in the morning wanting to be in last place. So they know their numbers. And I run contests, too, for tires or alignments. You’ve got to let them know where they stand all the time—they do a better job when there’s a little spiff out there for them.”
Lead by Example.
Krasner periodically helps out in his department’s service drive, to show his staff precisely how to work efficiently, and how he wants customers treated.
“Often I’ll be out in the runway writing up a client,” the industry veteran says. “When employees see you helping out a customer and writing a repair order, and then selling work, it gets buy-in from all your people. I think that’s the key to success.”
Ultimately, Krasner studies not just KPIs, but several factors when monitoring an advisor’s production, as well.
“It’s all a puzzle that, crazily enough, all fits together,” he says. “And, when you look at the whole puzzle, you see exactly how they’re doing.”