Tony Graffin, service manager at John Wilkins Cars in Cheltenham, has worked hard to perfect the skills needed to keep customers coming back and technicians adequately supplied with work.
“You need to be adaptable, good at communicating and good at planning,” he says. “There’s always lots of things happening at once. Everyone needs to be serviced in some way, even if it’s just an acknowledgement.
“Different people need to be dealt with in different ways. It’s about trying to understand these needs and to transfer that to what work they need done on their car when you get them booked in. You then need to communicate with the technicians so they can do their best work for the customer.”
Since starting off in the motor trade 29 years ago, Graffin has worked his way up from technician through the roles of supervisor and aftersales adviser to become a service manager.
His work has earned him the award of AM/Shell Helix service receptionist of the year in 2006 as well as Suzuki aftersales adviser of the year in 2005.
The majority of his time involves giving advice to customers on what work needs to be done on their cars and then selling the hours to the workshop.
Once the vehicle is being repaired, it is up to him to keep the customer informed of the progress made.
Graffin works under the motto “treat everyone the way you would like to be treated” and says that the hardest part of the job is being able to satisfy every customer all the time.
“Be honest, that’s the secret. Often things happen that are out of your control. Say a part is on back order for a few weeks – you need to help the customer as best as you can, keeping their needs in mind,” he says.