Teaching Your Service Advisors Confidence
In Craig Heiser’s eyes, the service advisor is the most important position in any mechanical repair shop.
“They’re the face of your business,” Heiser, owner of University Automotive in Sacramento, Calif., says. “If they can’t build relationships and trust, there’s no business.”
Heiser has always placed an emphasis on the role of his service advisors, but he hadn’t found the right type of training until a few years ago when he hooked up with Elite.
“I had put my people through other classes and they’d come back all gung ho for about two weeks, and then they’d go back to their old ways,” Heiser says.
Once he paired up with Elite, he learned about the company’s Masters Service Advisors Training Program, a six-month intensive course. He’s since sent five employees through the program and has no intention of turning back.
Heiser says that each of the service advisors that he’s sent through the course has increased their average repair order (ARO), become more confident when speaking to customers and established a consistent sales presentation. For example, within two months of returning from the course, one of his service advisors raised his average ticket from $250 to $500 and another one brought in an extra $48,000 worth of business in the same amount of time.
Jennifer Monclus, Certified Sales and Leadership Trainer for Elite, says that the goal of Elite’s Masters Service Advisor Training Program is to bring permanent change in an advisor’s behavior that will lead to improved sales, customer satisfaction and profits.
“We feel true training must be a process,” Monclus says. “The Masters Course is so successful because of its length, repetition and personalized coaching.”
Service advisors that attend the training must first go through an in-depth vetting process in order to be selected into the program. This vetting process isn’t based on the advisor’s level of experience, but instead ensures that each student has the right attitude, aptitude and ethics. This is one of the keys to the program’s success since the advisors work together and learn from each other throughout the six-month course. The handpicked service advisors then go to a three-day intensive training session in San Diego.
After the three-day course, the service advisor returns to his or her shop and then has weekly training with their fellow students and an Elite coach, which comes in the form of web meetings and conference calls. During the meetings, the service advisor and the Elite sales coach will go over weekly performance and run through different scenarios so the service advisors can practice their newly acquired skills.
“I saw results as soon as they came back from San Diego,” Heiser says.
That wasn’t a surprise for Heiser. With all of the training programs he had sent his staff to, they would come back ready to try out new techniques—but the enthusiasm would quickly fade.
“With Elite, it’s constant repetition,” Heiser says. “It gets stuck in your brain and it gives them confidence with a customer.”
Confidence building is an important part of the Masters process. It’s designed to teach advisors to truly believe in the profession of sales, and understand that at the end of the day selling is just helping their customers make the right decisions.
Take Donald Hiers, for example. Hiers is the manager and one of the service advisors at University Automotive. Hiers went through the program close to three years ago and says it helped him gain confidence when selling to customers.
“At first, I wasn’t super comfortable, but after role playing with Jen and Doris [another Elite trainer], I was able to apply the skills that I had learned and gained confidence.”
Specifically, Hiers was always uncomfortable with what he calls ‘laundry list sales’, which is when a service advisor lists a number of different repairs that the vehicle needs. The difficulty was that those customers would typically ask for a price after each repair listed. After attending the course, Hiers asked the customer for permission to first go through the list and give a price at the very end. Hiers told the customer all of the work that needed to be done and just waited. The customer talked himself through it, thought for a moment and then gave Hiers the thumbs-up. Three years later and the training is still paying off.
“It’s like muscle memory,” Hiers says.
A Sure Bet
“Sending service advisors to this training has freed me from having to be at the front counter,” Heiser says. “I no longer have to deal with situations that they can’t handle. It is so easy for something that’s not a big deal to spin out of control if someone doesn’t know how to approach it. It has made my job easier.”
Heiser also says the financial investment in the training paid off almost right away.
“The ROI comes back quicker than anyone understands,” Heiser says. “When you think about an average of $100-$200 per work order, it pays for itself in a hurry.”
For help creating more confident and consistent advisors that generate higher sales and happier customers, learn more about Elite’s industry acclaimed Masters Service Advisor Training Program.