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  • Service Advisor assistance

    Posted by gcauto on April 27, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    My husband and I run our own shop, he’s the only tech, I work the office. We’ve been struggling with efficiency lately. For example, I do most of the scheduling and try to keep the hours at a certain amount each day without overwhelming him but there are days he feels overwhelmed because there is just too much work for just one tech (days when a simple inspection turns into a couple of hours of work). (we are not in a position to hire another tech yet).

    Most jobs, he’ll check the vehicle out, call for parts pricing and bring the RO in for me to finish the estimate and call the customer for approval, however, I’m a bit technically challanged and often times have questions on what is being repaired and why it’s being repaired (questions customers seem to ask when I call them for approval). Is there anything out there that can help me have a better understanding of repairs, such as what does that part do, why should it be repaired and what happens if it’s not repaired? Interrupting him to ask questions many times pushes him behind on work, so I’m trying to teach myself as much as possible.

    We’ve taken management courses in the past with very little luck, so I’m very hesitant signing up for any more courses at this point. I’m right across the street from our local library, so any suggested reading materials that might help me (but not overwhelm me) become a better service writer, scheduler, accountant, etc, would be appreciated!

    Linc Lewis replied 8 years, 9 months ago 8 Members · 10 Replies
  • 10 Replies
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  • ras

    Member
    April 29, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    Cheryl, have your husband explain to you what needs to be done as if you were the customer, you will get to know some of the more common answers without having to ask questions.

    a car owner can rattle you with a lot of questions, some of which may not even pertain to the work being done. answer as best as you can without help from your husband, if your client really needs more then have them wait till he is available. your clients will start to accept what you have to say soon.

    when i started here 8 years ago as a S/A, the clients needed to talk to my boss all the time. they did not know that i was a lic. tech as well. what i needed to do was listen to what kind of answers my boss was giving out. as soon as i realized that we both would have responded the same way, i started to explain that he was busy and suddenly my advice became acceptable to them.

    what’s really rewarding is when you answer a client, they still want the boss, and he drops what he is doing and then answers exactly as you did. without being smug you can now take over the conversation and your husband can go back to work.

    hope that helps

  • gcauto

    Member
    May 2, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    Ralph,

    Thank you for your suggestions. After being here for several years, I’ve learned quite a bit, unfortunately there are still those times that a customer asks a very technical question that I just can’t answer. I’m going to continue my “training” so that Greg can be removed completely from talking to the customers. Thanks again for your suggestions!

  • Patrick McElroy

    Member
    May 3, 2011 at 3:37 am

    Hi Cheryl,

    You must be doing things right that your business is starting to

    outgrow the two of you. Have you and your husband considered

    hiring a young apprentice to assist him in the shop ? Your husband

    could then still help you along in your development while an

    assistant could get things moving in the shop at his directions.

    Perhaps the local high school auto shop teacher has a mature

    student that is ready to help. There are also good kids at the

    lube shops that may want to step-up. ( I don’t mean going up there

    and stealing an employee, but an add on Craigslist may get a

    nibble)

    I will tell you, in my own situation, whenever I thought it was

    time to hire a tech,or counterman, I procrastinated. But when I

    finally made the move, not too much later, I wondered why I waited

    so long. The key is to not just hire someone with a pulse. You

    have to hire someone that you don’t have those “doubts” in the back

    of you mind.

    On the other hand, you and your husband may be happy with just the

    two of you? As my accountant advises me, “if your too busy, maybe

    you need to raise your rates”. Check with your vendors to see if

    they have access to service advisor seminars for yourself, it’s in

    their best interest for you to become more knowledgeable. Your

    personal growth in this industry will hit a few potholes, but the

    rewards will follow with effort. Best of luck !

  • gcauto

    Member
    May 6, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    Patrick,

    Thanks for your response. We aren’t quite out growing just the two of us as there are days we don’t have enough work to even turn the lights on. It’s the days that things become too busy for just one person that I struggle with. We have had (2) interns from the local high school that did not work out as their interest was more in getting out of school for the day, not learning the auto repair business. (both admitted this fact to us after a couple of weeks of being here). We also had a young tech here last summer but although he had the interest in working on cars, he didn’t have enough experience for Greg to let him work alone and it was very expensive paying someone that had little experience and slowed things down. We aren’t in a position financially to hire another tech at this time, so I want to learn everything I can so I don’t have to ask questions too often.

    Thanks again for responding! Any suggestions are welcome!

    Cheryl

  • smcautomotive-gmail-com

    Member
    September 19, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    Cheryl

    We have just joined this group and I was reading your post. We are also a 4 year old shop that is family run. My son-in-law is the tech and I run the office, order parts, schedule appoinments and write service tickets. It can some days be a challenge.

    I have learned a lot over the last four years. Even now, I will ask questions before I call the customer if there is something I don’t know or understand, trying to anticipate any question that the customer will have. When I call customers to review estimates and sell the job I do my best to answer any questions. When I don’t know, I let them know that I will get the answer and call them back. That way I’m getting trained when I ask the questions. Customers have been very understanding and when the message is delivered with sincerety and a smile on your face, it comes through in the delivery making it more acceptable.

    I also read the trade magazines that come into the shop to learn things as well as a text book on automotive repair that Scott had in school.

    We have just hired an apprentice that graduated from the local trade school. Our last one did not work out well but I have high hopes for this one. We did learn from our previous hire and made a list of jobs that he is expected to be able to do on his own within 30 days without supervision. He was given a copy of this list on his first day and signed a copy.

    Many of our weeks are scheduld at least 50% full before we get into the week. We always ask when a customer needs their car back when we make appointments. We try to save some room on the schedule for the emergency that walks in the door or when something else shows up wrong on a vehicle.

    I hope this helps you some. I’d be more than happy to discuss things further if you like.

    Lorraine

  • gcauto

    Member
    September 20, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    Lorraine,

    I’d love to “chat” via email with you if you’re interested. My email is [email protected].

    Thanks for the post!

    Have a great day!

  • davidpass

    Member
    September 21, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    Hi There it sounds like you have the need to have some help in several areas. First of all , do not sweat the technicla questions. They are going to happen, and you will not have the answer. In those cases, you simply state that you will find out the answer to the question. The customers will respect your answers much better than if you try to answer the question and try to wing it. Next, it sounds as if you could use an apprentice technician and a part time office clerk. During the course of the part tmie office clerk, he/she could make follow up calls . first call the customers from the previous week, just to thank them for their business. Next Reminder follow ups via phone, text email video chat etc for PM reminders and also Service Recommendations that were previously declined, or rescheduled. This will greatly help stabilize your work flow. The apprentice tech could assume some of the responsibilities from your husbandd to provide him some relief, Ie clean up, trash, source parts, pick up parts, deliver or pick up vehicles. I would be happy to communicate with you and help you in any way that I may. My email is [email protected] Good luck!

    David

    Cheryl Lindbeck wrote:

    > My husband and I run our own shop, he’s the only tech, I work the office. We’ve been struggling with efficiency lately. For example, I do most of the scheduling and try to keep the hours at a certain amount each day without overwhelming him but there are days he feels overwhelmed because there is just too much work for just one tech (days when a simple inspection turns into a couple of hours of work). (we are not in a position to hire another tech yet).

    > Most jobs, he’ll check the vehicle out, call for parts pricing and bring the RO in for me to finish the estimate and call the customer for approval, however, I’m a bit technically challanged and often times have questions on what is being repaired and why it’s being repaired (questions customers seem to ask when I call them for approval). Is there anything out there that can help me have a better understanding of repairs, such as what does that part do, why should it be repaired and what happens if it’s not repaired? Interrupting him to ask questions many times pushes him behind on work, so I’m trying to teach myself as much as possible.

    > We’ve taken management courses in the past with very little luck, so I’m very hesitant signing up for any more courses at this point. I’m right across the street from our local library, so any suggested reading materials that might help me (but not overwhelm me) become a better service writer, scheduler, accountant, etc, would be appreciated!

  • mhambaum

    Member
    July 23, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    Here’s one idea… Create for yourself (with your husband’s technical input) a Features, Advantages, and Benefits worksheet/job aid for major services that you perform and components that you replace. To do this, start anywhere. Make a list of services and components that come to mind, along with any FAQ that come to mind regarding them. This list will be a work in progress as you encounter new services/components.

    Two things will happen with this. First, as you prepare estimates and prepare to call your customers you’ll have a job aid to refer to. Secondly, as you write this stuff out and refer to it over time, it’ll cement in your mind, to the point where you may not need it anymore. In other words, it’s a good training tool.

    Hope this helps.

    Mark

  • tatterbugg

    Member
    July 31, 2013 at 5:43 am

    I have my service writer watch realfixesrealfast . This guy is a good instructor and master tech. It helps with the changes in the repair industries. It will help you understand the processes in repairing today’s vehicals. You will learn how and why to a lot of those answers. You can do this on your slow days. Pause when needed . This may be a great benefit as to see what your husband is doing without bugging him.

  • Linc Lewis

    Member
    September 9, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    Our shop challenge has always been to better all communications between customer and tech. S/As are required to describe the customer’s compliant while beginning every RO with Customer States: This statement is verbatim from the customer. The S/A will then analyze that statement, clarify and restate, and explain what preliminary service or diag will be necessary to begin the repair. I believe that Cheryl has a better chance than most S/As because unless SHE is convinced an additional story is required. Cheryl, do not learn too much technically and require your husband or any techs to write a detailed description of the problem and the parts they require for that repair. You will find labor times in your guides and you should order parts. Keep techs on twisting wrenches and describing causes, and recommended services.