Guest EDITORIAL Post from Yanni Kratsas

From an Automotive Service Advisor – Who Knows, I may be Yours.

I’m that guy. Or Girl. That doesn’t matter.
I’m the person that you come in to see when your vehicle is doing something that is seriously irritating. Maybe it’s rumbling at a red light and everyone is staring at you. Maybe it’s dead at the red light and everyone is laughing at you. Or maybe your aluminum baby just needs some basic service and a little bit of TLC. I’m that person that can help.
A little about myself… I’ve been a service advisor for about 15 years in some of the best high line stores in the western U.S.
I’ve also been a national trainer, traveling to hundreds of dealerships all over the U.S. to train other service advisors to better serve their clients.
The first thing I want you to understand is that we’re not trying to rip you off. In my personal experience, I hate trying to sell everything that the technician finds. I like to find the most important things that need to be done. I.E. – What can make you vehicle take a shit, in the middle of the street.
I like to explain to you that these repairs are very important, and then go down the line and let you know what you can put off until later. No one at any dealership is trying to rip you off in service. Notice that I said service? We have nothing to do with selling you cars. We just try to fix yours. Take that sentence as you will.

The two biggest words for us are trust and honesty. If I’m not honest, or if I lose your trust once, I will never get it back. That’s a fact. If I ever caught one of my employees trying to sell a repair that wasn’t needed, there would be no second chance. They would be out on their ass.
THAT BEING SAID….Some people know as much about their vehicle as they know about the splitting of atoms during the Big Bang. You may be a doctor who doesn’t know how to change a tire. Guess what? I don’t know the first thing about an appendectomy. So any good service advisor will have no problem showing you the issue. This is not, however, an invitation to teach my dumb ass about an appendectomy.
Ask us to see the part that has failed. We would love to show you and teach you about the issue. We don’t want you to be in the dark. The more that you know about your vehicle, the easier it is for us, especially when you come in and explain the problem that you’re having.
I can’t speak for every service advisor on this one, but I’ll speak for myself. We’re not only your “fix-it” person. We’re also the person that welcomes you and tries to make you feel better about your situation. Sometimes, we’re even the person that helps you laugh at a situation that you were definitely not able to laugh at before. Let me explain my greatest memory of helping a wonderful woman though something she was completely embarrassed to deal with.
So, I’m at my desk. This very sweet woman in her late 40s comes into my office and says that her son used her vehicle and for some reason, there was a photo on her navigation screen that was never there before. I explained to her, that when you pair your phone to the navigation screen, sometimes you can accidentally post a photo to the screen. I explained that it was probably an accident. That’s when she told me that she didn’t want me to see the picture and asked if I could lead her through the process of getting rid of it.

Now… I’m a human being. Don’t judge. The suspense was killing me now. I had to find out what was on the screen.
To make a long story short, it was two men wearing…well…nothing. These men were apparently in a fist fight. However, the fists were punching a completely different part of their bodies than we would expect from a normal fist fight.
Needless to say, she and I had several conversations about it and she’s doing very well with what she discovered that day. Sweet woman just learned something about her son. And she loves him even more, now that she understands.
You’re probably wondering why I told that story. The reason is that I want you to understand that you’re not just a number to us. When you show us your personality, we love to show you ours.

Something else I want to touch on. And I don’t want to come off as harsh. But remember what I said earlier…Trust and Honesty.

Please don’t come in to service your car and treat us like we’re second class citizens. We’re educated, we work hard and, in most cases, make 6 figures and we’re college educated. We have the same feelings that you do. So smile! Crack a joke! Have some fun with us! The cooler you are to us, the harder we jump through hoops to get you every discount possible, get your work done faster, and even go to bat for you against our manufacturer. Remember…you attract more bees with honey. Not with a vinegar attitude.
And finally….The biggest thing that I guarantee you don’t know…. The CSI report. Why don’t you know about it? Because we’re not allowed to tell you about it.
The CSI report is a survey that you get about a week or two after your service appointment. It asks you about 10 questions about your experience at our dealership. Here’s problem #1 with this survey…Every question is a 1 out of 10. If you don’t answer every question with a 10, it’s a failure. Really. I’m not making this up. If you answer nine questions with a 10, and then the tenth question asks you if you liked the macaroni and cheese that Mom used to make you, and you answer with a 9, WE FAIL. There was a client the other day that answered every question with a 10, except for one. Wonder what that question was? “Are you happy with your vehicle’s resale value?” He gave a 4. I got $2500.00 taken out of my check. Now let me ask you this… WHAT IN THE SWEET BUTTERY HELL DOES HIS RESALE VALUE HAVE TO DO WITH THE WORK THAT I PERFORMED??? Nothing. Nothing at all. But that one survey will cost each service advisor thousands of dollars per month.
The main point of this is to let you know that we respect you. And we want you to respect us. And hopefully this little bundle of words will allow you to understand us a bit more. We’re away from our families for about 13 hours a day, to do this job. To sit at this desk and to put about 5 miles a day on our shoes, running back and forth to the shop to make sure that your vehicle is doing well. We do this while putting on a smiling face, even when it’s a bit hard to do so. But we also know that you’re away from yours as well, and you just want the situation fixed.
So how about this… Toss a smile our way. Understand us. And we will do everything we can, to give you the best experience that we can possibly provide. And if you need something more than that, just let us know. We’ll provide that as well. After all, I always keep my cell phone number on my business cards, so that you can contact me 24/7. Unless you just hit a curb at 3am, and you want a loaner car. I’ll still hook you up, but now we have to exchange stories about our driving mistakes. Comics NewsColumnTMI with TIM
Guest EDITORIAL Post from Yanni Kratsas From an Automotive Service Advisor - Who Knows, I may be Yours. I'm that guy. Or Girl. That doesn't matter. I'm the person that you come in to see when your vehicle is doing something that is seriously irritating. Maybe it's rumbling at a red light...