Dealers will be shocked that the role, which has become increasingly linked to the earning potential of the aftersales workshop, is held in disregard by many of those who occupy it.
The issue has been highlighted by research from Castrol Professional, which is working with the Institute of the Motor Industry to structure current and future service adviser training programmes to meet the needs of the industry.
The study involved interviews with 600 service advisers working in a range of locations and franchises. It showed that the service reception desk can suffer heavily from staff turnover. A third of the advisers surveyed have less than three years’ experience and are unlikely to considering up-selling additional work as part of their role.
Adrian Brabazon, Castrol’s UK OEM and workshop marketing manager, told AM: "Considering the time and money invested in recruiting and training these staff, this clearly has implications for the overall profitability and efficiency of many dealerships."
Providing proper training in sales and customer service plus some required technical knowledge may encourage advisers to stay in the role. Castrol Professional’s survey found that the biggest single complaint from respondents was empowerment – 42% felt they were not able to resolve customer issues effectively.
"Many dealers are failing to recognise the importance of the service adviser in improving customer satisfaction and profitability," Brabazon added.
"In most cases, service department staff remain a largely untapped resource, neglecting the fact that this part of the business accounts for around 70% of dealer profits and plays a critical role in customer retention."
It indicates that the strategy of having a dedicated customer call centre, like those adopted by dealers such as Ridgeway Group and Ringways Motor Group, could be one way forward. They employ staff with customer care backgrounds.