In recent years, dealers have really seen an increase in the demand for their service departments. We all stress the importance of having skilled technicians in the shop, but the service writer also plays an integral role in customer satisfaction and shop profitability.
A good service writer will facilitate service scheduling and sales in a manner that makes efficient use of everyone’s time. As a conduit between the customer and the technician, their job entails listening to the customer’s equipment concerns to help diagnose the machine’s troubles and working with the shop to asses repair needs.
“The role of the service writer is so important because they are often the first person the service department customer normally sees,” explains Susan Blecha, service manager at P & K Equipment with several Oklahoma locations, each with their own designated service writer. “They also need to be able to work well with not just the customer, but also the technicians.”
Qualities to look for
There are certain qualities to seek out when looking for a service writer for your dealership. Some background knowledge of equipment is helpful, but the ability to communicate well with the customers and other service department staff is vital.
“We look for a background in agriculture equipment or related experience,” Blecha shares. “They need to have good communication skills and a high level of computer competency. As well as the ability to multitask.”
Here are some attributes to look for in a good service writer:
- People person
- Good communicator
- Mechanically inclined
Jeff Auslen, owner of Glenn’s Repair in Atascadero, CA, says when armed with the right attitude and the right questions, anyone in the dealership can step in as a service writer. “You don’t need a lot of knowledge of the equipment, you just have to be knowledgeable and outgoing enough to talk to people so you can get the necessary information,” explains Auslen. “You need to ask the customers a lot of questions to get the truth out of them to know what work needs to be done to the equipment. The knowledge base come back from what information the mechanics give you.”
Auslen says they have a list of questions they ask customers who come in for service, such as when it last ran and how old the fuel is they are using.
Training and tools for the job
There is always an opportunity to provide service writers training to help them in their role. Some basic equipment knowledge and customer service training in-house can go a long way. At P & K Equipment they train service writers themselves and also take advantage of manufacturer training opportunities.
Investing time and training into service writers can help you to groom a better service writer who provides better service to the customer, and also help groom them to be a devoted employee with a lasting career in the dealership.
“Most of our service writers have been here a long time or have been promoted up from within the dealership,” says Blecha, who worked in the dealership as a service writer for two years before coming a service manager.
With the right qualities and training, your service writer will be able to make the best decisions for your service department and its customers.