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Guide Service Advisor Improvement

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Your service advisor isn’t always going to have a great month, but what happens when he or she just can’t hit the shop’s ARO?

As a shop owner, having a plan of action on how to address when an employee falls behind is critical in order to effectively coach that employee to success.

According to Jeff Cowan, president of Automotive Service Advisor Training, when an employee produces less than anticipated, it’s important for the shop owner to do the following: observe the employee, learn their routine, and then educate.

“The auto industry is infamous for making things much harder than they need to be,” Cowan says.

Cowan’s company has trained service advisors across the United States for the last 31 years.

Different factors can affect an employee’s performance, Cowan says, but employee’s performance is typically derived from goals set by the owner or the shop.

“The importance of having a goal is that your staff knows what they’re shooting for,” Cowan says. “Goals give people a target.”

Although goals can motivate a service advisor, what happens when the month falls short and the results really aren’t there? As an owner, it’s time to step in and lay out the next process of how your employee can improve and if he or she is a good fit for the company.

Cowan outlines how to onboard service advisors for success, monitor results, evaluate and then coach to success and, finally, how to make a decision when he or she just isn’t hitting the mark.

As told to Kiley Wellendorf

If you want employees to perform, you can’t leave them to their own devices. It’s important to pay attention to what’s happening at your business and make adjustments where it’s necessary.

If I hired a brand new person, he or she would be on a probation period during the first 90 days on the job in order to ensure that he or she is a good fit for the business. If you’re not hitting the minimal standard, then there is something wrong.

When a service advisor misses his or her goal after being with the business for a while, I suggest keeping a tab on the employee for the next 30 days to determine if there’s progress—some people just have a bad month.

When your service advisor misses a goal, be positive and encouraging, but straightforward. It’s important for your service advisor to know that it’s not a game and it’s a set standard at your business.

When you speak with your service advisor, review their work and look for patterns to see where there’s a sales gap. Your service advisor could very well struggle with a specific demographic, such as customers who own trucks, so it’s important to identify the issue early on and develop a plan.


The next day, maintain a close proximity to your service advisor. Let’s say you find out that your service advisor has issues selling to customers who are truck owners; the next day, you should be nearby and listen in to how your service advisor handles the customer.

Afterward, step into the situation and talk with employees on how they could improve the sale the next time around. When you’re able to quickly assess a situation, you can provide your service advisor with insight on how to build their confidence, for example, or how to word the sale differently.

Sometimes you have to put your foot down when there isn’t a positive change in your employee’s performance. If your employee continues to miss a goal, it’s important to follow up and have a discussion about how to improve his or her performance.

I suggest putting a note in his or her file regarding the two months, but let him or her know that the note can be taken out if results are turned the next month. After month three, I think it’s time to part ways.

That might sound hardcore, but I believe that’s where most people mishandle the situation; they fail to train employees and they fail to cut the dead weight. At the end of the day, it’s all about doing what’s right for your business.

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