Don’t Leave Your Front Counter Behind – Training For The Service Writers
By Wallis Miller, Lead Developer/Training Analyst
Keeping your technicians up-to-date with the latest technology is
obviously a good investment. Well-trained techs mean fewer
come-backs, faster repairs and happier customers and this means
more cash in the register. But what about your front
counter? A lack of training here can create a silent erosion of
your customer base and revenue you may not be aware of.
Your Service Writer can write up estimates, but does he know how
to promote additional services at the same time? He knows
how to find all the information for complex repairs, but how is
he at explaining it to customers so they don’t feel they are
staring at an “exaggerated” bill?
How is your Service Writer at scheduling? Does your
workload fluctuate between idle techs waiting for work and too
many cars waiting for a bay? Do customers wonder why their
car is still waiting to be seen hours after they dropped it off?
Assuming your Service Writer is proficient at writing
estimates, what else should he or she be trained in?
Start with Customer Service skills – right off the bat, these
‘soft skills’ mean the difference between customers who become
‘regulars’ and those who go elsewhere after one or two visits,
while knowing how to deal with an irate customer can avert more
than an unpleasant scene in the waiting room.
Good communication skills mean more than greeting the customer
with a smile. How well they listen to a customer makes the
difference between a realistic estimate of time and cost and a
vague and possibly misleading initial diagnosis.
Appointment or calendar management is another skill that can make
or break your bottom line. Knowing how to estimate how long
services and repairs will take usually comes with experience;
combine this with some training in basic calendar management to
even out the highs and lows.
Sales Skills training can teach your Service Writers how to
effectively promote profitable maintenance services and can help
with selling the customer on expensive but essential repairs.
Where do you find training for Service Writers?
While some manufacturers offer technical training to independent
shops, training geared towards Service Writers is normally
restricted to dealerships only.
An internet search for ‘Automotive Service Writer Training’ will
produce any number of sales oriented firms and consultants that
you can research and compare. As with technical training, the
cost and availability vary and they may be offered online or as
an onsite training session at your shop, or even as regional
seminars ‘coming to your area soon’. The key word here is
‘research’. Do your homework before you choose a training
source from the internet. Find out how long they’ve been in
business and if they specialize in the automotive industry. Ask
for local references, or see if you can talk directly with shops
that have used their services.
ALLDATA® also has professionally developed training
for the business side of your shop. The Training Garage includes
several courses designed for Service Writers and counter staff in
the ‘Shop Operations’ section. Check out the list of topics
at alldata.com/products/Training Garage under
the ‘Courses’ tab.