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Training for a service adviser position can take several days up to several weeks. The amount of time necessary is based on overall adviser's learning capabilities and ability to catch on. Most advisers are paid a salary or hourly wage for training but receives additional commission and possible bonus programs afterward. From answering the phone to quoting hours and selling service work, there is a lot to learn. Mechanical ability is not necessary, but customer service and sales ability are the foundation for a successful adviser career.
Labor Hours and Pricing
The training service adviser learns to quote hours and rates for service work. Whether using a computer program or a labor book, the adviser has to learn how to judge labor time. A lot of this comes from experience. If a head gasket replacement calls for 32 hours labor time, but the parts need ordering and the vehicle is rusted, it is safe to assume that the customer can pay for 40 hours of labor time because of complication due to rust and availability of parts. The service writer is advised and instructed in the beginning and should continue to ask for help until she is comfortable and familiar with labor times. Labor hour guides help to determine pricing, as well. This fluctuates by state and different areas in between, but if the labor rate is $90 an hour and the labor is equal to 32 hours, the adviser must quote at least $2,880 plus parts and tax.
Whether the adviser works at a dealership or independent shop, there are computer programs in place for keeping track of customers and documenting work. The adviser prints out a repair or service order, also referred to as a RO or SO, which is given to a technician for service explanation and doubles as a customer receipt. The adviser takes the customer’s name, address, best contact phone number, and vehicle information such as vehicle identification number, year make and model. The adviser has to accurately and descriptively record the customer's concerns to put in the computer and relay to the technician for resolve. Many warranty claims are also submitted online.
For dealerships, new cars with factory warranty-covered repairs are common. For independent shops and dealers, extended warranties are honored. The service adviser must submit claims and wait for covered repair approvals. All necessary documents need signing, and in-depth documentation is sent to the warranty provider. Often Internet-based, some warranty companies need documentation faxed with other necessary paperwork to approve and pay for the vehicle repair. Because of the number of warranty companies, this process may involve lengthy training until the adviser is comfortable with all procedures.
The adviser often arranges the daily work for a technician’s day. She will schedule accordingly, making sure that the proper work is given to the right technician, as some are more advanced than others. The adviser is fully responsible for relaying customer concerns to a technician so that the concerns are fully addressed. This is a relatively fast part of training—the adviser can make herself a simple list of which mechanic does which jobs and simply make sure she is asking a lot of questions to the customer to clarify any problems.
An adviser is also a salesperson. Advisers must up-sell, or try to sell more work in addition to what is already being done, to make commission and try to reach bonus programs, if any are in place. For example, if a customer needs two new tires, the adviser can try to sell four plus the labor time for installation. Advisers are often paid on their amount of sales. In addition to up-selling work on the car, there are sometimes manufacturer incentives for selling a specific product. When a customer comes in for a transmission flush, for example, the adviser may recommend a certain brand to make more money. Training will most likely involve listening to another adviser at first until the new adviser is comfortable making a pitch to the customer.
Shanan Miller covers automotive and insurance topics for various websites, blogs and dealerships. She has extensive automotive experience, including auction, insurance, finance, service and management positions. Miller has worked for dealer sales events around the United States and now stays local as a sales and leasing consultant for a dealership.