PSB 123s: Important tasks for a successful service writer

1. Call customers the day before. “At the end of the day, before the service writer leaves, I like to have the service writer call the customers that have service appointments for the next day and remind them that they have an appointment for whatever time the next day,” said Greg Schneider of Spader Business Management. He says service writers should leave a message for customers and remind them of the appointment time, asking them to reschedule if they’re going to be late. “What it does if you leave that last part in, that puts a sense of urgency on that appointment.”

2. Use visual tools. “Master service advisors utilize the 80/20 rule. They know that customers are only 20 percent likely to purchase something that they hear about, but the purchase likelihood jumps to 80 percent if they can actually see what it is we are trying to sell,” explained Valerie Ziebron of VRZ Consulting. “Look for ways to incorporate visual tools in all customer interactions.”

3. Practice the art of the walkaround at vehicle reception. “Go around the unit three times, focusing on one level or ‘band’ at a time — upper, middle, bottom,” said Joe Arcuch of MotoAdvisor, Inc.

4. Make sure techs clock in and out for each job. Clocking in and out minimizes lag time between jobs because techs are accountable for all of their time, says Craig Stokebrand of Kearney Yamaha in Kearney, Neb.

5. Set appointments at odd times. For customers who are coming in for quick jobs, such as oil changes, brakes, or tune-ups, use an odd time, like 2:05 p.m. Thursday, Schneider recommends. “When you use an odd time like that, again, it puts a sense of urgency on that customer of when they’re going to be there. What that tells them is, ‘Wow, they must run a pretty tight schedule there.’”

6. Ask questions and listen. “Practice the art of listening and asking pointed questions that will help the technician diagnose issues,” Arcuch said. For example, if a customer says an engine stumbles, an advisor should ask, “Does it happen all the time, when engine is cold, warm, on acceleration or deceleration?” Arcuch continued, “Write down as much relevant information as possible, and do not attempt to diagnose and lead the technician in any particular direction.”

7. Team with sales. “It is in everyone’s best interest to have a strong relationship with sales,” Ziebron said. “Look for ways to not only strengthen the relationship but also partner with them. Tie in to any advertising and events that they are involved in. Promoting service at sales events is a highly effective, under-utilized approach to get new customers.”

8. Pre-plan techs’ work. “Get in the habit of pre-planning the work for the techs before you leave to go home the end of the day,” Schneider said. Have the techs’ work lined up for them when they arrive in case you get bogged down, so you don’t have techs sitting around waiting.

9. Pay attention. “Stay aware of job completion promises and the status of jobs in progress — don’t let jobs fall through the cracks,” Arcuch said. “Call customers immediately if delays are imminent.”


10. Follow up. “A master service advisor recently told me ‘I call every service customer the weekend after they got their bike back.’ Most of the time he gets a ‘yes’ and often a compliment or two but if there is a problem, he’s able to take care of it right away,” Ziebron said.

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