Don’t overlook the value a service writer can bring to your shop just because you have a service manager and service techs already on staff. Rural lifestyle customers are fueling growth in dealerships, so now is the time to add a service writer or redefine the position.
To understand the true value a service writer brings, we first have to understand the natural cycle that a customer goes through. Most customers are introduced to your dealership through a salesperson. The customer made a purchase and now the dealership must focus on retaining that customer. The natural cycle shows that the customer will then need a place to service their equipment. By adding a service writer to your staff, your customer feels cared for in their transition from sales to service.
The salesperson should then introduce the customer to your service writer and the cycle continues from there. The goal of the service writer is to keep your customers happy and loyal to your dealership until they are ready to make another purchase, restarting the cycle.
In today’s climate, I firmly believe the role of the service writer cannot be underestimated. When you consider the cost of getting the customer to purchase from the dealership in the beginning and the lifetime value of each customer, maintaining and engaging with every customer is critical to your growth and success. Few people in your dealership have the ability to make this kind of long-term connection with your customers. As we consider the role of the service writer, we will find that they are in a perfect position to boost the satisfaction and loyalty of your customer base.
This season, recast the image of the service writer in your dealership. The customer’s expectation in the last 5 or 10 years has changed. Previously, the service writer’s responsibility was nothing more than taking and making phone calls to customers, opening and closing work orders and maybe handling warranty claims. Most people can be trained to do those kinds of tasks. However, today’s customers choose where they want to spend their money based on customer service, so ensuring an excellent experience for every customer is critical to the success of your dealership.
“The service writer is a salesperson for your service department …”
The service writer’s role has evolved and dealerships are growing because of it. The service writer is now responsible for the total customer experience in your service department. They are also responsible for increasing the value of each work order to improve your gross profit absorption for labor sales.
No longer can a service writer simply stand behind a counter and take information from a customer. In order to engage with the customer, the service writer needs to take the customer for a walk-around, not unlike what salespeople do when they are working with a potential customer. The salesperson is highlighting features of the equipment that meets the customers’ wants and needs and the service writer is highlighting the aspects of the unit that need an extra look or extra service to keep the equipment operating at peak performance.
It is vital to understand that as margins decline on wholegoods and parts, there must be more focus on growing the labor revenue to offset the declines. This responsibility falls into the redefined role of the service writer.
Today’s service writer is a salesperson for your service department. Their skills are closely aligned with that of your top salespeople. Their ability to build relationships; ask good questions; and follow-up and communicate keeps the customer life cycle going for your dealership.
So, how do you know if you have a service writer that’s right for today’s rural lifestyle customer? Listen to how they greet and interact with your customers; how they do a service walk-around; and how they make a follow-up call for a job that needs additional work. Are they building relationships? Are they increasing labor sales? Are these customers going to remain loyal and buy from my dealership again? If they are, then you have the right person doing the right job. If not, then maybe it’s time to get them refocused on the importance of their job and rethink the role of your service writer.