A Well Trained Service Advisor Makes You Money
It is ironic that one of the most important employees at a wash often goes with little or no training. In addition to good sales numbers successful car washes depend on repeat business. It is also very important that customers enjoy their visit to the wash and feel that coming into the facility is not only good for their vehicle but something for them to look forward to do. For this reason it is essential that after politely and enthusiastically greeting them that they select the packages and services that best meet their needs. If the service advisor oversells or sells them something that they really did not want or need they will be reluctant to return and if they do, even more reluctant to purchase anything beyond a basic car wash.
Any professional Service Advisor has a good working knowledge of what products or services they are selling. As a Service Advisor it is very important to understand how the wash operates and how all services are performed. They should understand as much as possible about each element of the wash - how the entire operation works, how vehicles are washed, where and how each service is performed, the value of the services performed, and responsibilities of each person at the wash. There is an old saying that "the more they learn the more they earn". How well they perform their job as a Service Advisor depends on their knowledge of the wash and the services offered.
It is important for the Service Advisor to look at the sales process through the eyes of the customer. The more successful they are at identifying why they have come to the wash, what needs they may have, and what services they need to meet those needs, the better they will feel. In its simplest form, successful selling is really identifying what a customer needs and meeting those needs with the appropriate services or packages. That's why the most successful Service Advisors concentrate on observing the vehicle and carefully listening to the customer before selecting what package or service to recommend. The best sales occur when a customer feels they have "bought" rather than "being sold" a service or package.
One of the cardinal rules for a Service Advisor is to never deliberately mislead a customer to make a sale. A customer should never be told they will receive better service or a cleaner vehicle if they buy a package. Misleading customers might lead to a sale at the time but they may not return if they feel they must buy something other than a wash to receive good service or a better quality wash. The key is to sell to their needs for their vehicle, not the Service Advisor’s need for a sale.
During the course of a day of selling at the car wash a Service Advisor will encounter many different types of customers and vehicles and experience many ups and downs. For them to grow as a Service Advisor they must learn to treat each sale as a separate experience. While they must learn from both their successful sales efforts as well as those that didn't work out, they need to also use their experiences to improve daily on dealing with their customers. They must keep an even disposition and not take successes or failures personally. They must keep in mind customers and sales people alike have their good days as well as bad.
Above all it is important that they maintain a positive attitude and be sincere each time they deal with the customer. The first aspect of acting sincerely is to act naturally using your personality as a sales tool. If person is basically outgoing and friendly, they should behave that way. If they are somewhat shy and reserved, that's the way they should act when dealing with the customers. A Service Advisor should never pretend to be someone they are not. Just as sincerity can have a positive effective on the sales process, a false front or facade can have a negative one. If they show customers that they are sincere and the customer will realize that they are trying to recommend services that will do the job for them – not just trying to sell them something they may or may not need.
OBSERVE AND BE A COMMUNICATOR
Operators are often tempted to hire someone who is a good “talker” to be a Service Advisor. The main skill a good Service Advisor must have is good communication. This involves not only the ability to express themselves well but also being able to listen carefully and use the information they get in the sales process. They should observe and listen to the customer before they select what might best meet their needs. When a customer drives up they must be sure to look the vehicle over carefully. Do the rims need something special? What condition is the finish in? Do the tires need dressing? Does the car have a lot of exterior rubber and trim? Are the seats vinyl, leather or cloth? Is there a lot of mud underneath the vehicle? What is the general condition of the vehicle? These are all "clues" as to the various needs the customer may have and what they might recommend. In a sense they should develop an internal checklist they should review before each sale.
It is very important that the Service Advisor avoid prejudging the vehicle and its owner before suggesting a service or package. Some customers with very expensive or new vehicles will only consider a basic was while one with an older model, less expensive model may be looking for more than that.
A simple “Welcome to our wash? How may help you?” or something similar is a good way for the Service Advisor to start the process. This will make the customer feel comfortable and give them an opportunity to tell either them what they feel they need or to give the Service Advisor a clue as to how they might approach the sale. After greeting the customer, they should make sure to allow the customer the time to respond or ask a question before proceeding.
Another cardinal rule for a Service Advisor is to never assume that price is the main objection to purchasing any extra services or a package. In some cases the customer may feel they need an extra service or package but they do not have the time or they may not realize the value of a needed service. It is the Service Advisor’s job to explain to them that the services they might desire take no extra time or that they will help further clean, protect, or improve the appearance of the vehicle. In some cases a customer may question the quality or need of a service. In this instance they should be informed that their wash uses the finest products and all services are performed by the professionally trained personnel.
THE SALES PROCESS
Studies tell us that at least two out of three customers who come into the wash make their final buying decision after they are greeted. Based on this, it is very important for a Service Advisor to understand the various elements of the sales process and how to use them effectively. The key is to educate or inform the customers so they can decide what's best for them. In some cases they will agree with their recommendations. In others they may chose something else. In still others they may ask for or need additional information to make their decision. In all cases they must be ready to assist them in making the choice.
Each sales effort contains three distinct elements:
How well a Service Advisor does at sales will depend on their ability to understand and get the most out of each of these elements. The entire process may only take several moments for it to be completed. Sometimes it may all happen at once. Other times they will have no time to gather all the information they need. In some cases the customer will already know what they want when they drive in. In all cases they must be ready to meet the needs of their customers.
As mentioned before, the Service Advisor is usually the first person the customer comes into contact with when a customer arrives at the wash. It is important that they make a good, positive impression. This is why they must always be clean, well groomed, and act in a polite, friendly, and courteous manner. When a customer drives in they should look them in the eye, smile, and welcome them to the wash. Make them feel comfortable and show them that they are there to help them meet their needs for their vehicle.
This portion of the sales process comes from two sources. The first being the Service Advisor’s observation of the vehicle as it drives up and the second from information the customer gives them. How well they do in sales will depend on their ability to gather as much information about the customer's needs as possible in a very short period of time and matching those needs to the services or package they are able to provide. This is where they put to use all the knowledge they have about the services performed at the wash.
After analyzing all the information they have gathered the Service Advisor is now ready to make the offer to the customer. If they have carefully observed the vehicle and listened to the customer they should be able to decide what they might need or want. Remember, if they are sincere and show they are offering them something they feel they truly need, they should not have to "force" anything on them.
The cardinal rule that applies here is to wait until the customer responds to their offer. Many sales have been lost or reduced because the Service Advisor did not wait for the customer to respond. Be sure to give them an opportunity to ask any further questions and respond as best they can to clear up any misunderstandings or to give them more information to help them make their decision.
At no time should any high pressure tactics be used. If a customer makes it clear that they are not interested in buying the services they recommend, give them what they want. If they make them feel "guilty" about what they have decided to buy they may never return and they will never have another chance to sell them anything again.
Always end their contact with the customer with a smile and thank them for coming to the wash. Make sure they leave their area with a positive experience that will encourage them to return.
A good, well trained Service Advisor can not only increase profitability but also encourage customers to return to the wash. The process really begins with making the right choice when hiring the individual and should involve both initial and on-going training. A good incentive program is also essential. While you certainly want to discourage aggressive sales tactics, you also want to reward good, positive sales performance. After all is said and done, as with all you do at your wash, providing a healthy atmosphere and positive structure for your employees will go a long way to success and growth.