My Top Service Advisor is Uncoachable – Help!

By Ted Ings, Executive Director

So, your top service advisor is a Rockstar when it comes to selling.

Unfortunately, they’re also surly and impolite. To make things worse, because their sales figures are so high, they’re cocky and don’t listen to a thing you say. What’s a service manager to do?

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Is your top-performing service advisor defiant and discourteous? Here are a few things you can do to reel them in.

Above all else, a service advisor is there to provide high-quality customer service. And for top customer service, listening and comprehension are fundamentally important! A service advisor must be willing to accept criticism and coaching. If they aren’t, here are a few ideas.

1. Consult HR. It may be a good idea to consult HR before doing anything else.

The department can give you advise, plus provide any documentation you need to protect yourself.

2. Have a private one-on-one conversation.

In many cases, a manager will stop listening to a difficult employee. But that’s the exact opposite of what they should do. Don’t tune the advisor out. Instead, see if you can discover why they aren’t open to coaching. Is it that they don’t believe in the process or is it YOU they don’t believe in?


If they say it’s you, don’t take immediate offense. Do some self-reflecting – you never know, there may be some merit to what they have to say.

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3. Praise positive actions.

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Think about it: when was the last time you gave your top advisor kudos? Because their numbers are so high, you may think they don’t need positive reinforcement now and then, but they do. Giving credit where due can help promote positive actions. Often the best way to have your criticisms heard is to give encouraging feedback more often.

4. Give clear feedback.

In some cases, how you feel and what you say are two different things. Instead of brooding and getting more and more frustrated with your advisor, tell them up front how you feel about their behavior. Let them know what you expect and want them to do differently.

5. Record bad behavior.

Being “written up” is an unnerving experience for almost any employee. Documenting bad behavior signifies you mean business. Also, it gives you a record of every offense, just in case you end up having to fire the individual.

6. Don’t waver.

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When a top-selling advisor is kicking butt and taking names, it’s easy to turn a blind eye to bad behavior. Then, when things slow down, you refocus on the needed changes. This type of waffling isn’t fair to you, the employee or the rest of your team. You have to remain consistent to be effective.

7. Don’t take it personally.

It’s easy to be upset by an employee who blows you off but try to remain calm. Getting angry will only ruin your focus and make the situation more difficult.

8. Remain professional.

Don’t stoop to badmouthing the problem advisor to others. You’re the service manager – remain professional by talking to the employee directly, not behind their back.

9. Discipline, and be firm.

Sometimes, all the feedback in the world doesn’t help and it’s time to get down to business. As the authority, respect has to be earned. An uncooperative service advisor, no matter how productive, might need to sit out a few days to discover you’re serious about being heard and obeyed.

10. Know when to let go.

You may eventually have to let the advisor go, depending on how bad their behavior is. For example, if the individual is rude to customers or other employees, and refuses to change, it’s time to consider firing them. Even if they’re a top performer, their negative attitude may be bringing down the performance of the department as a whole.


Don’t forget: service advisors must be good at selling services, but the customer experience is always the top priority. If they aren’t listening to you, are they really listening to the customer’s needs?

Keep things in perspective

It’s easy to let one bad apple ruin your day, month or even year. But remember, the problem can be dealt with and will eventually pass. Keep things in perspective; stay enthusiastic and ambitious. In other words – don’t stop doing a great job, even when your top advisor has.