Do Your Service Advisors Have Their Essential Tools?

David Dietrich NewsletterAdvisor Essential Tools

There has been a push and a needed one for advisors to do a superior job in customer handling and sales. Many of our documents discuss these expectations and applicable processes to accomplish them. This document will introduce a new term to our industry and define it. In the logical evaluation of our business, it is time for an Advisor Essential Tool list.

Conventional/Commonly Known Essential Tools

Over the years in the dealership setting, most involved with service operations have become use to the terms “Necessary” or “Essential” tools. Common or conventional thoughts immediately go to the list of technician or shop tools that are required to perform warranty work. The manufacturers are so committed to a dealer possessing these tools that they require the dealer to inventory them each year and replace any tools that are missing or found to be not functioning as designed. When a dealer signs a dealer agreement for a new franchise, they are among other things committing to make the investment in these tools. Unfortunately, neither the manufacturers nor most dealers have put the same emphasis on Advisor Essential Tools.

Expectations of a Proper Job

In a dealership environment, there is or at least should be an expectation of the proper execution of your job responsibilities. With that expectation is the responsibilities of the dealer to provide their employees with the tools necessary to perform those duties properly. As bizarre as it sounds, a dealer would never give a transmission technician a hammer, a screw driver, a pry bar and a crescent wrench and expect them to properly repair a transmission, yet we expect an advisor to do an effective selling job with customers with equally remedial tools.

Essential Tools for Advisors

Manufacturers do not currently have a published list of advisor essential tools, in fact, the author is not aware if it is even a consideration with any manufacturer or even any facet of our industry. Although M5 has been discussing many advisor tools for years, we have only in the last few years began to refer to them as essential tools. There has not been a publicly printed list to identify these essential tools. The following can serve as a guide when assembling your advisor tool box:

  • Clipboard with a pre-write or at the least, a note pad
    • Some very successful dealers have even gone as far as to create a deal jacket for appointments. These deal jackets include a pre-printed copy of the appointment, a copy of the manufacturer history/printout, a courtesy inspection, and a menu.
  • A working pen
  • A flash light
  • A tread depth gauge – The most effective has proven to be the red/yellow/green style
  • A maintenance menu – Working with our clients, we have found that the most effective is one that mirrors the manufacturer’s recommended/required service with clearly identified dealer recommended operations. It has also been noted that a bullet point style menu is more clearly understood by the customer.
  • A comprehensive courtesy inspection – Again the most effective has been proven to be the red/yellow/green style. It has also proven to gain buy-in when the technicians are involved in the creation of the courtesy inspection.
  • Effective point-of-sale material and displays
  • Complete vehicle history
  • Internet access to job related websites
  • Job Aids such as diagnostic worksheets
  • Work tracks – These maybe related to but not limited to the following:
    • Phone scripts
    • Appointment setting
    • Customer reception (write-up)
    • Sales presentation
    • Special order parts notification
  • Service pricing guide
  • A tickler file (for lost sales)
  • Service reminder letters
  • Next appointment reminder cards
  • Management feedback (this is possible the most important one)
    Repair order analysis and summary
    Additional sales request tracking
    Daily production summary
  • An effective process for long term appointment scheduling
  • Processes in general on virtually every aspect of their expected job performance

Every day we expect advisors to do a superior job with inferior tools. Most manager’s lose their cool when advisors fail to deliver. It is time to live up to our responsibilities as managers, mentors and leaders to provide our people with the essential tools necessary to succeed. Failure to do so will ensure failure on the front line.


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