The service adviser finds out from the customer what he or she wishes done. It's essential to get a good description of the problem the motorist is experiencing. This can be a little tricky. If the customer gives the service adviser a weak description of the problem, the adviser may have to quiz the customer to determine what the source of the malfunction might be. He or she also may test-drive the car, either with or without the customer, in an attempt to observe and diagnose the problem. Whenever possible, the service adviser fills out the repair order with a description of the symptoms and may occasionally make a suggestion as to how the problem may be repaired.
The service adviser usually gives the customer an estimate of cost and how long the work is expected to take. Since this is not always possible until a mechanic examines the vehicle, the service adviser may later have to telephone the customer to give the estimates and obtain the customer's approval to have the work done. Sometimes a customer will balk at the cost of repairs and will be reluctant to have the work done. Here the service adviser must convince him or her that having the work performed will be worth it, and the service adviser will have to explain how the work may be vital to the customer's safety, may improve performance, or may prevent some more serious and expensive problem from developing later.
In some of the larger shops and dealerships, a shop dispatcher may compute the estimates and distribute the repair orders to various specialist technicians. In smaller shops, however, the service adviser may perform these duties.
When the customer comes back to pick up the vehicle, the service adviser will answer any questions about the cost of parts and labor and explain in simple terms just what has been done. If there is a complaint, the service adviser is the person who must face the customer. If a repair has been made and the customer returns with a complaint, the service adviser must either see that the repair is redone or obtain management approval to make an adjustment to the customer's bill.
The service adviser is expected to advise customers on routine service requirements, but he or she also may be a salesperson of accessories. Service advisers sometimes suggest accessories that will make driving more pleasurable or safe. They also may instruct the customer as to how he or she should maintain the vehicle. In many shops the service adviser is also the service manager.
Most service advisers put in a forty to forty eight hour week. They face two rush periods in the average day. In the morning, most of the customers are dropping their vehicles off for service, and the service adviser must deal with them quickly and politely. Few people have time to spare in the morning, and the service adviser must work at maximum efficiency during this rush period. The second rush period comes in the evening when the customers return to pick up their vehicles. The service adviser has the obligation of delivering the vehicle and explaining the repairs without holding up the rest of the customers.
Most of the service adviser's day is spent standing. However, the work involved is not strenuous physically, even if it is sometimes mentally and emotionally exhausting. Service advisers usually work in clean, well lit, comfortable conditions indoors. They are usually stationed in the shop area, where it can be noisy. They may sometimes be required to go outdoors to inspect and test drive vehicles in bad weather.
WHERE TO WORK
There are about 24,400 persons employed as service advisers. Most of them work in larger automobile dealerships with more than twenty employees. In smaller dealerships the service manager doubles as the service adviser. Large independent repair shops need service advisers. In some of the specialty shops the manager of the facility is also the service adviser and occasionally also may perform duties as a service technician.
Usually service advisers receive their training on the job under the guidance of an experienced service adviser or service manager. In most cases, trainees start by assisting the shop dispatcher or they begin as a porter or a car hiker who drives the vehicles into and out of the shop. Beginners learn how to route the work to the various technicians, compute repair estimates and costs, and estimate the time required to perform the work. It usually takes about one or two years to become proficient enough to handle the job well. Some service advisers attend vocational schools or community and junior colleges and take auto mechanics courses to get an understanding of vehicles. This enables them to be conversant and knowledgeable when dealing with both technicians and customers.
Most employers prefer high school graduates who are at least twenty one years of age. It is extremely helpful to have experience or training in automotive repair and related activities. Employers often fill vacancies for the automotive service adviser by promoting from within the organization. The person promoted may have worked as a mechanic trainee or parts counter trainee, although many firms prefer to hire someone who is well versed in all areas of automotive service repair.
During high school you should consider taking classes in grammar and English, along with general mathematics, public speaking, commercial or business mathematics, and automobile mechanics. Unless you are quite familiar with automotive service, vocational or technical school is advised.
Since the service adviser is the intermediary between the public and the technicians, employers look for men or women who are gregarious and who can win customer confidence, as customer confidence is the key to repeat business. Employers look for persons who are neat, courteous, even-tempered, good listeners, and good conversationalists.
If a service adviser has any supervisory or managerial experience, he or she may be a good candidate for a service manager position. Some service advisers who have good mechanical skills and keen business sense go on to open their own repair shops or service stations.
Openings usually come from normal attrition, as some who are presently employed retire, die, or move on to some other job. The number of annual openings is expected to grow as the vehicle population grows. This job is relatively unaffected by changing economic conditions. Most of the openings for service advisers will be concentrated in the larger metropolitan areas where the larger dealerships and repair shops are found.