I know I did. Think about all the positions in your dealership. Accounts receivable and payable, controller, sales professionals and managers, mechanics and body repair technicians. All of the positions listed here have received some degree of professional training or apprenticeship. And your service advisors? Have they received any training? Sure, they've been shown the ropes during their on-the-job probation period, but have you sent them for any formal training? Likely not. Comprehensive service advisor training material is difficult to find, nearly non-existent. CRM software for dealers provides how-to videos and step-by-step guides on how to perform tasks, but is sadly underused and isn't dealer specific. It's the main reason you need to discipline your advisors. Guess whose fault it is when your advisors aren't following procedure step-by-step? And what is that procedure anyway? When your advisor's CSI score falls below threshold, is it because your advisor is doing a poor job or because they're not provided a tangible set of instructions to follow for their position? Is your advisor being held to a standard of excellence? How do you define that standard? What are their guidelines? I was a hot-shot advisor, or so I thought. I was earning a pretty slick income at a top dealership and had achieved the highest 3-month advisor CSI score in the dealership's recent history. I was 'making it' in a cut-throat service department environment. I was the go-to guy for technology questions, technical concerns, and creative writing projects. And then I went rogue. I went through a period of about six months where I didn't care about customer service at all. I cared about achieving sales, yes, but didn't care if the customer was satisfied or if my job had been done correctly. My CSI score slid to an all-time dealership low within five months, and I was disciplined. Here's why: • I wasn't being held to the same standard as other advisors. As long as advisors produced, they could get away with bloody murder without repercussions. The verbal rules were more lax if you produced at a high level. • Procedure was lackadaisical. My management team was less concerned about organization and ensuring all advisors did a thorough, meticulous job of customer service than they were about meeting their targets. • I didn't have a step-by-step manual to hold me accountable. There isn't a physical or digital copy of material useful for training service advisors in place. In fact, I've never seen one anywhere I've worked. Advisors, like professionals in all fields, need proper guidelines and procedures for taking care of the customers that come through the doors. Every person should have the same positive experience at your dealership no matter which advisor they see or what day they visit. That consistency comes from setting a structure that is followed. There was a massive sign on the drive-thru wall that said "Every Vehicle Every Time". It's a great slogan…if you enforce it. Invest in your service advisors. Invest for your customer's satisfaction. Invest in a service advisor procedure manual. Give your advisors the structure they need to be consistent. It can be used to train new hires, right a listing ship, and provide a go-to guide for seldom-used but necessary functions. A service advisor manual can be tailored to your specific dealership. It can contain: • New hire training • Job description • CRM functions • Walk-around procedure • Selling guidelines • Dispute resolution training • Warranty procedure • Disciplinary guidelines It's totally customizable to your specific dealership environment. Take it from someone who has been in the position. It's crucial to ensure that all your service advisors are on the same page. Create a benchmark to strive for and provide the tools to achieve it. Don't wait for the next advisor to go rogue. Invest in a service advisor manual. Your customers will thank you.
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