Teaching Service Advisors to Ask for a Pre-Approval

Should Service Advisors Ask for a Pre Approval?.jpg

It’s a situation that’s happened to every service advisor, and almost daily. 

A customer drops off their car for the day with a concern that needs to be diagnosed. The work order is written, the customer is whisked off to work in the shuttle van, and the technician gets down to business. A short while later, the tech brings a repair estimate to the advisor, who picks up the phone to contact the customer. 


The phone rings and rings, then voicemail. The advisor has confirmed a contact number, but the customer isn’t picking up. There are two choices: kick the car out of the shop until the customer calls back, or do the repair and hope the customer is okay with it. 

What’s the Right Answer?

In this typical, familiar scenario, nearly everything has been done right. And for fear of being burnt on a costly repair the customer hasn’t approved, the service advisor often opts to wait for the customer to call back. It aggravates the technician and draws the repair timeframe out; the car will have to come back into the shop later, which might be full for a while. 

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However, one very small step could change the way this scenario plays out. The service advisor can ask for a repair pre-approval. It goes like this: “I understand you have a busy day. If the repairs are under a certain amount, would you like me to go ahead with the repairs, or would you prefer I wait for your approval first?” 


You can count on four out of five customers giving you a ceiling on repair costs on the spot. Now when the technician approaches with a diagnosis and estimate, you can give the green light right away. You then have a few minutes to contact the customer, fill them in, and sell any additional repairs on the estimate. 

Do the Repair, then Worry About the Approval

Keep in mind that the pre-authorized amount only gives you so much leash. Use it to address the primary concern and wait for a return phone call on the rest. 

You might be surprised how well it works to improve technician efficiency as well as customer satisfaction.