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The Rules for Turning Service Advisors into Superstars

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Over the years I have had the opportunity to employ, train and meet many of the most gifted advisors in the industry. Accordingly, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes for an advisor to go to the top, and I have concluded there are a few fundamental rules that truly are timeless.


Rule No. 1: You need to have realistic expectations of your advisors.

Over the years, I have met countless shop owners who are frustrated because, no matter what they do, their advisors continue to struggle. In the majority of those cases, the shop owners have unrealistic expectations, because their advisors don’t have what we at Elite refer to as “star stuff.”  I’m speaking of the attributes that can’t be taught—the ones that the advisors will either have, or not have. What is the star stuff that we look for? First and most importantly, they have to be people-people. These are the people who love to communicate; making eye contact is a natural for them, and they smile 24/7. Advisors also need to be bright and able to think quickly, because, as we all know, they live in a world where they need to simultaneously manage many changing tasks and people. Lastly, advisors need to have ethics in their DNA, and always make the right decisions for the right reasons. So, when setting your expectations, you need to be realistic, and determine if your advisor has the attributes that can’t be taught.


Rule No. 2: Your advisors need to understand what their job really is.

At the most elementary level, every advisor knows it’s his or her job to tell his or her customers what needs to be done with their vehicles and provide the relative prices. The top advisors know that this is just a very small part of their job, because they also realize their primary responsibility is to help their customers make otherwise difficult decisions. When it’s an easy decision, any advisor can help. But when a customer hesitates because he or she feels the vehicle may not be worth fixing, when he or she feels they can get the same job done for less down the street, or when he or she struggles in prioritizing the recommended services, it’s the advisor’s job to step up to the plate and help the customer through the decision-making process. To help your advisors become superstars, the best place to start is by ensuring they understand why it’s often difficult for your customers to make some of the decisions that need to be made, and that your customers need professionals to help them through the process. This “job responsibility” has nothing to do with money, and everything to do with our professional responsibility to our customers.  


Rule No. 3: You need to provide your superstars with the right tools.

Although there are a number of tools your advisors will need, the most important is technicians that can produce, and whose recommendations they can trust. They also need the right kind of customers, because, if they feel as though they are constantly dealing with the wrong type of people, their confidence, as well as their passion for helping others, will quickly fade. Lastly, you’ll have to ensure they have their goals broken down into daily goals. They need access to digital inspection equipment, the right support, a deep belief in the integrity of your pricing, and ongoing training that is based on your core values.


Rule No. 4: You need to provide your superstars with the right compensation and incentive programs.

In developing any pay plan, you’ll need to always consider the specific results for which you are looking. For advisors, that list should include sales, gross profit, and happy customers. Bear in mind that, beyond having the right pay plan in place, you’ll need to constantly monitor, measure and reward their success. This means you’ll need to keep a sharp eye out for any behavior that is in line with your goals, and you’ll need to praise that behavior as soon as possible. This will give them the positive reinforcement that will motivate them to repeat the same behavior and inspire a positive change in their habits. Lastly, to properly develop your advisors you’ll need to perform a repair order review with them at least once per week. Simply grab 4-5 repair orders from the previous day and discuss each of them. This will let them know just how important the goals are to both of you, it will provide you with countless opportunities to praise their specific performance, and it will help them realize just how important their behavior is to reaching those goals.


Rule No. 5: You need to lead and inspire.

As the leader of your company, you need to set the tone for everyone who works with you by having a carefully developed mission statement, a list of guiding principles in place that are referred to on a regular basis, and you’ll need to live by the principle of never putting money ahead of people.


If you apply these rules there is no guarantee that your advisor will become a superstar, but there is one promise I can make to you: your advisors and your entire team will be much more successful, and you will be able to go home each night knowing that you are developing a culture of professionalism that will inspire others for years to come.


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