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What Is a Service Writer?

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

When you take your car to a mechanic or a car dealership for service, it's the service writer who writes down the work you need to have done; or, he listens as you describe the pings, thumps and knocks that your car needs to have evaluated by a professional. The service writer notes everything in great detail, and then tells you that he'll call you after the mechanic has looked at your car. As the liaison between the service department and the customers, a service writer needs to be patient, meticulous and thorough. Since he often must deliver bad news about the car or about the car's repair costs, having a sense of humor doesn't hurt, either. Although salaries are modest for beginners, the service writer salary grows as the writer gains experience.

Service Writer Job Description

The service writer is the public face of an auto repair shop or car dealership's repair department. He - because 70 percent are male - is also the point of contact for customers who are inquiring about their cars or about the repairs that need to be done.

Among the service writer job responsibilities, one of the most important is to be accurate in detailing the reasons the customer has brought the car in for service. Auto mechanics and repair technicians rely on this information to diagnose the car's necessary repairs. Sometimes, the service writer looks at the car to understand an issue better and then records it on the service ticket.

If the customer has brought his car in for maintenance service, such as an oil change or a tire rotation, the service writer knows the business's standard charge and writes it on the service ticket, when the customer checks in. He knows how long standard services usually take, and how busy the technicians are, and he can advise the customer whether the customer should wait for his car or whether he should return later.

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Another one of the service writer job responsibilities is to accurately write on the service ticket what the mechanic or technician has found to be wrong, and the cost - including parts and labor - of fixing each issue. With a clear estimate of repair costs, the service writer calls the customer and relays the information.

Answering the phone, scheduling appointments, speaking with customers and conferring with technicians can be a lot to juggle all at once. So, service writers must be very organized and not easily flustered. The better his notes are, the easier it is to remember which customer is waiting for her car, who he needs to call with an estimate, how many more jobs the shop can handle that day and which jobs he needs to schedule for later in the week.

Education,Training and Salary

Most service departments and mechanics require that service writers have a high school diploma, a GED or its equivalent. The ability to communicate clearly, both orally and in writing, is very important. Basic math skills are helpful, even if calculators are handy.

Service writers learn most of the job responsibilities on the job. Most businesses will look for service writers that have several years of experience, because experienced writers don't have as much to learn. That doesn't mean, though, that dealerships will not consider a beginner who interviews with a pleasant demeanor, provides examples of his organizational skills and has an eagerness to learn.

The average salary for service writers was $47,656 as of December 2018, with a salary range between $36,568 to $100,000 with experience. Some businesses pay service writers bonuses and/or commission, based on their work. If the business offers profit sharing, service writers can receive that, too.

About the Industry

Service writers usually work an eight-hour day, although some shops open as early as 7 a.m. They may also work on Saturdays. The job involves a lot of standing and walking between the customer desk and the repair floor. Auto repair environments are often fast-paced, which can be stressful, but most service writers - about 80 percent - report that they are very satisfied with their job.

Job Growth Trend

It's estimated that the need for customer service representatives, such as service writers, will grow 5 percent from 2016 to 2026, which is about average for all occupations. As vehicles continue to become more technically complex, the need for skilled technicians to work on them will continue to grow, and service writers will be needed to organize the flow of repairs.

About the Author

Barbara Bean-Mellinger is a freelance writer who lives in the Washington, D.C. area who has written about careers and education for work.chron.com, workingmother.com, classroom.synonym.com and more. Barbara holds a B.S. from the University of Pittsburgh and has won numerous awards for her writing.

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