For Internal Service Advisors, SCRAMBLE Defines The Day
By Jim Leman
AutoSuccess – JULY 2022
Kim Morrison is the internal service advisor at Canadian dealership HJ Pfaff Audi. Her job description could describe an individual with the abilities of a Swiss Army knife.
“The sales team’s sole goal is to sell the vehicles I have to get ready for sale, so my challenge is making sure everything flows as smoothly as possible to meet their availability time-frames.” Morrison said.
“If I lack the ability to coordinate the technicians, vendors and repair orders required to get cars through reconditioning to the front line fast then sales won’t have that confidence.” she said Morrison also juggles service personnel personalities, skills and workspaces in a 12,000-square-foot service facility for customer-pay, new car prep and car reconditioning. Pfaff Automotive Partners operates two dealerships in Newmarket, Ontario. She said Pfaff Audi Newmarket recently saw used-car reconditioning volume increase from 60 vehicles a month to 132.
To achieve this gain, the sales team implemented a new strategy:
“Instead of being a new Audi dealership that occasionally sold pre-owns, we want to be a pre-owned dealership that occasionally sells new Audis.” Morrison said.
Coincidently, new-car sales have increased to an average of 70 units a month. increasing trade-in volume.
Managing technician work assignments can present unique challenges for getting work done.
Jennifer Marszalek knows Morrison’s challenges well. She worked in dealership fixed operations for 24 years, including as an internal advisor, before joining Rapid Recon in 2022 as a performance manager for the recon workflow software company.
“From my standpoint,” she said, “franchise store techs are trained to work on one product, the dealership brand. It can be difficult for them to switch gears suddenly to work on nonbrand vehicles. Other brands come with their own wiring schematics, repair manuals, codes and specialty tools that not all technicians may be familiar with. But techs knowledgeable with working on multiple makes are comfortable jumping from one brand to the next.
“That’s a concern for advisors working in a combined customer-pay/internal shop environment.” Marszalek said. “That doesn’t mean new-car techs can’t work on other vehicles, but they’ll probably need more time.’
When Morrison joined the Pfaff Audi dealership a few years ago from a sister dealership, she had never worked as an internal service advisor.
“I suddenly had to learn different op codes, vendors, the steps in the recon process in our Rapid Recon software and more. I had seen this tool at work at other dealerships and championed it when I came to HJ Pfaff. With this system, I was always just a click away from ‘to approve’, or ‘not to approve,’ and the tool was always on my computer screen or mobile device, wherever I was in my day.” Morrison said.
She cited the recon software’s vendor management feature, Vendor Advantage, for helping her and her sublets track which vehicles were out. what work was being done and where those cars were at each phase of their reconditioning cycle.
“Now I know where every vehicle is in our workflow. My approved vendors have access to their own Rapid Recon workflow. This cooperation helps keep our work from stalling because the information and parts we need to recon these car are always waiting for the technician. I’m the one that’s running around grabbing keys and getting them connected with the vehicles to get the work done, so it’s a little easier not to have to chase the data. It’s right there, handy and available,” Morrison said.
By using the software to identify workflow bottlenecks and remove those points of delay, she can more consistently deliver cars for her sales team:
“First and foremost, I want our techs to work on another car, turn the wrench and get hours. The bottom line is that we just make that happen. Internal has a good relationship with sales and service here, and internals works hard to maintain that good relationship by making sure it all works for the dealership’s good.” Morrison stressed.