Broski: Service Advisors Should Be Likeable, Not Persuasive

Aug. 28, 2023
To become a top-notch service advisor, spend more time mastering people skills over sales tactics.

KPI’s are important. I get that.

But for service advisors, if your main concerns are your “numbers” and the amount of your paycheck, may I offer a different way to improve both of those while lowering your stress and making your job more fun?

What you communicate to your customers during your (short) interaction with them is important. Are they on your side (flowing with you) or are you struggling to sell them on your recommendations? Do you have to resort to “dealing with objections” when they say no? If so, read on with an open mind and unfolded arms to see a new way for your customers to agree with your inspection results and recommendations easily.

A service advisor's job is multi-faceted. You have to be credible, knowledgeable, influential, empathetic and somewhat technical. Oh, and being a people person helps. The reason I didn’t say persuasive is because it is so much easier to get a yes because of you and your relationship with the customer than a bunch of manipulative sales words and phrases. In case you haven’t heard, people like to buy, but nobody likes to be sold. So don’t “go buy a book on sales” as some may advise.

Let’s dig into the people part. I was recently reading a book and the description of the lead character’s interaction with people was amazing. He drew people to him and they listened intently to what he said. Kind of handy for a service advisor, don’t you think?

Below are the quotes about putting people—your customers—first. But the first two are from a sponsored article from ETE Transmissions in the July 2023 issue of Ratchet+Wrench magazine: “If you are providing the absolute best to your customers, they are sure to keep coming back.” If you take care of your customers, they will take care of you by saying yes to your maintenance and repair suggestions; writing great, valuable reviews; referring your shop and, as the quote said, by coming back.

And second, “Happy customers make a successful shop.” They’re happy because their car was fixed at a fair price. They were treated like people, not car owners. They got to smile and laugh with you—the advisor—and the shop owner. They were treated like family. Heck, that's great marketing: your happy customers become your best marketers, referring you and your shop.

Regarding the lead character:

“His happiness and pleasant nature seemed to draw people in and his spirit was contagious.” I imagine we all like to deal with someone like that. How do you say no to their suggestions? I presume you’ll agree that it would be handy to be that way to our customers for the same reason.

“He liked (the people) and they knew it and responded.” You will be dealing with friends; friends who know you have to make a profit to stay in business (just like their company).

“He radiated a carefree grace.” Again, you will be pleasant for people to deal with. This increases your chances of referrals and great reviews, which brings in more money (presuming you fix the cars). And it's been said that money can solve a lot of (shop) problems.

“He believed people are more important than schedules, and he would never make people feel uncomfortable by letting them feel they have come (or called) at a bad time."  You only treat strangers and people you don’t like that way. Friends are welcome any time.” OK, almost any time. It’s OK to tell the caller you are in the middle of something and will call them back.

Now you are the charming service advisor. But why? The point of all this is that it makes you a real, caring person, not a money-sucking machine just after their wallets. You'll be talking about what your customer is interested in, not just (boring) car stuff, although it eventually has to come up. The obvious question: How do you get a storehouse of information to talk about every customer’s interests? Subscribe to a news app on your phone or just open Google and news stories will pop up. Just read the first paragraph or so. You just need to know enough to ask a question or to say, “Yeah, I read something about that.” They will gladly fill in the rest.

“Little gestures gave his guests the impression they were really important to him.” Some gesture ideas for you: Call the tire store for them, tighten a loose something on their car at no charge, or take five minutes to polish their slightly dull headlights. Occasionally hang around for 10 (or 15) minutes for a customer after the official closing time. While you’re waiting, use that time to delete old texts and photos on your phone or the shop's cell phone.

If you follow the above, you’ll be pleasantly surprised, and chuckle, at the easy yeses you’ll get.

About the Author

Victor Broski

Victor Broski has more than four decades of experience in the automotive repair industry. He worked at five different German car repair shops, learning something from each. As a service advisor with a degree in speech communication, he figured out how to easily get customers to say yes to the additional (DVI) work and be happy about it. Victor learned that great customer service brings great customer reviews, which brings inquiring phone calls that convert to new customers.

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