A service adviser, also known as a service writer, works decent hours compared with other dealership employees. Most advisers work Monday through Friday from morning to early evening with a lunch break. Saturday hours are common, but rarely does an adviser work on Sunday. Pay is generally salary or wage with commission opportunities. Some shops also have bonus programs in place for service advisers; such programs are based on monthly or weekly sales.
Customer service is a top priority at most shops. Dealers gauge performance and customer service by measuring overall customer satisfaction by phone call or survey, usually through an outside company or manufacturer process. A service adviser greets the customer upon arriving for a service appointment and discusses all problems or concerns with his vehicle. The adviser takes all necessary customer, car and concern information down, asking questions to confirm any issues. She also quotes the time needed to work on the vehicle and lets the customer know the expected cost of repairs.
An adviser knows a lot about warranty companies and claim procedures. She contacts the warranty company with questions or for warranty approval of any work before it’s done. She submits all the necessary information to the warranty company to ensure timely payment for her shop.
Essentially, the service writer is a middleman for the customer and the technician. The adviser relays all customer concerns to the technician working on the vehicle. Technicians who are flat-rate, or paid per job rather than set wage per hour, are responsible for selling work to a customer so they can make more money. The adviser acts as the salesperson to sell this work to the customer. For example, if a customer needs two front tires, the adviser may suggest brakes and tires all around. If she sells this, she has made commission and the technician has made additional labor hours. Advisers are also responsible for figuring out labor times for vehicles that need work done, and following a schedule for a smooth flow of cars in and out of the shop during the day, while also being considerate of technician lunch breaks.
Many shops have programs in place for additional commission for selling a certain product. For example, a transmission flush, which may not be necessary, will warrant a commission if the adviser can sell it to the customer before leaving the vehicle for service. Also, if a technician finds additional problems with a car beyond what a customer has brought it in for, she must contact the customer to get approval to start the work. This happens often with inspections. If a car cannot pass its state inspection requirements, the adviser tells the customer why and what he can do to fix it.
The adviser answers phones throughout the day. Although there may be a receptionist in place for this, there are still busy times where the adviser will have to answer the phone and set appointments, transfer calls and take messages. Most shops have computer programs in place to keep track of customers along with their vehicle information. The adviser will send out mail, and possibly file customer paperwork if necessary. The adviser takes copies of customer information, such as a driver’s license for a loaner car. She also inputs all valid vehicle information into the shop’s system, such as VIN (Vehicle Identification Number), mileage, year, make and model along with a customer's name, address, and best contact phone number.