When your normal staff includes three service advisors and one leaves, find a replacement as soon as possible.
It's difficult to determine your actual revenue loss when you are one service advisor short, but it's costly.
During your search for a replacement, this is what can happen within the ranks: Your two remaining advisors become stressed, even over a short time period, when they cover the responsibilities of three.
They write fewer repair orders, spend less quality time with your customers, fewer maintenance services are sold at the time of write-up, errors occur on quotations, customer misunderstandings get charged to your policy account, the phones don't get answered, keys get lost and parking is a mess. The list goes on.
The technicians become frustrated waiting forever to get work approval. When the parts are finally ordered, it's passed the cut-off time and you absorb yet another daily rental vehicle.
The cashier is stressed when customers complain that no one returns their phone calls, items get missed on repair orders with no explanation, there are more “no fault found” comments from the technicians because the two advisors were too busy to call the customer for clarification, and more errors occur.
To reduce staff turnover, find the root cause and then correct it. It may be lower- than-average pay, longer-than-average hours, or insufficient support staff. Whatever it is, be proactive, not reactive.
Great sources for finding people with good customer service skills are in your dealership. They can also come from servers at your favorite restaurant and front-line people at car rental agencies. Some of your suppliers have customer service people that have excellent interpersonal skills.
Getting the right person for the job is the hard part. Training this person is the easy part. Your staff will help train the right person.
Solicit interest from people you do business with for future employment opportunities at your dealership. Check out the “candidates available” postings on your dealer association web sites. Build a file on interested people with the skills you need.
When you factor in your time in placing an ad, sifting through resumes, interviewing, narrowing down the list and making an offer — in addition to your other daily activities — you may consider hiring a good automotive recruiting company to help. You can negotiate a fair price equivalent to or less than the cost of doing all this yourself.
What do you see when you read through the dealership want ads in the newspaper? They have one thing in common. They all say, “required immediately” or “currently seeking” and so on.
Most ads don't identify the contact person's name, giving preference to “attention: service manager.” Listing a phone number is rare and an e-mail address is almost unheard of. Fax numbers seem to be the preferred method of collecting resumes. Some ads don't even identify the name of the dealership, let alone an address.
If you are really in a “required immediately” situation, why then make it so difficult for a prospective candidate to reach you?
When placing your ad, include the name of the dealership, the personality of the position, your name and phone number, e-mail address and fax number. Make it easy for people to reach you.
A good qualifier for a candidate is to provide a job description. Do your requirements match the skills and ambition of your candidate? I would go one step further and provide the candidate with a list of expectations if the job is offered. n
Rick Boudreau is director of service training for the Automotive Sales College. He's at 905-476-9834 and [email protected]