Stokes: Turning Every Advisor into a Top-Selling Advisor

April 24, 2023
Great service advisors shouldn’t be an anomaly. Here's what it takes to make your current advisor great or attract a top producer to your shop.

People chase advisors who can sell a million dollars like they're some special unicorn—and they're not. An advisor who can sell over a million dollars a year should be the norm. It's not hard to get them there. It's not hard to keep them there.   

Start Managing Your Expectations  

The problem is a lot of owners expect advisors to understand everything about a car. They expect advisors to want to get yelled at, to work in chaos, to work through lunch and to work 55-hour weeks. And that's why you can't get somebody.   

Our shops are open from 7 am to 6 pm. We run shifts from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. On busy days, they will work over their shifts. On slow days, they won't; they go home. Over the years that's paid huge dividends. We have lost advisors to competition only to have them come back because they realize the difference in the hours worked. We're never open on weekends, which allows us to hire A-level players who only want to perform. These advisors come in and become a part of the culture and get paid well for it. They also build their own clientele. We’ve built a system to make sure they don't get yelled at by customers. We don't expect them to know everything about cars. We instruct them to trust our technicians. When an advisor just has to understand what a technician is saying versus having deep car knowledge, it makes it much easier.  

Get to the Root of the Issue  

Many owners think that they can't get their advisors to sell a million because the advisor isn't any good, but that's not the case. When you ask an advisor (most of the time) why they're getting yelled at it’s because they keep having comebacks because the tech sucks. When the tech sucks, the advisor doesn't want to sell their stuff and they don't sell with confidence. What ends up happening is these technicians come in as rookies and they're shotgunning—telling the advisor everything must be replaced: the fuel pump, fuel lines, fuel filter, fuel injectors, and pressure regulator. A good technician shoots a rifle. They’re precise. It's the relay that's bad, it's the fuel pump that's bad. A good advisor knows this. So, as owners, don't make the mistake of thinking it’s the advisor when the technician isn’t good. Know the difference.  

Give Top-Tier Advisors What They Want  

Start by giving your advisors a great setup and a great comp plan. Now they're motivated to kill it, and you're able to stay on top of everything they’re doing. You’ll know exactly when that advisor is on the phone, why they're on the phone and what's going on. We also encourage handing off the ticket. If that advisor can't sell it, they can hand it off to their buddy and their buddy can sell the ticket. Everybody's working to help each other.   

We believe in parts managers and having people that take care of the advisor. The advisor can then focus on getting the YES. If you bring in these systems and policies, you can end up having a setup where only the highest performing and highest paid want to work for you. What you don’t want to do is set up a salary pay plan or just a basic pay plan that doesn’t incentivize them. You’ll be left wondering why they don't perform and why top performers don't want to work for you. The top performers want a comp plan that pays; they want a commission. So, if you're going to hire the best, you've got to get them something that would get them motivated to perform.  

Build an Environment for Success  

If you want a million-dollar advisor, somebody that's going to make it happen, you must give them an environment to do so. They know they need a great technician that can turn many hours, a clean shop to do good customer presentations, a good-looking waiting room, a great reputation, a customer base and a solid marketing plan with a great owner. If you have that, they'll come to work for you. Create an environment for them to win, and they’ll knock it out of the park. If not, then you better get on it ... otherwise, the best will be working down the street.

About the Author

Aaron Stokes

A nearly 20-year veteran of the automotive repair industry, Aaron Stokes grew his business, AutoFix, from a one-car garage to a six-shop operation that is widely regarded as one of the top repair businesses in the country. Stokes, the founder of Shop Fix Academy, is an operational guru with a unique business and leadership philosophy that has led his business to great heights.

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