Coach Your Team to Victory with the Service Walk-around

By Ted Ings, Executive Director

Win big by playing coach on the service drive

If you were ever on a sports team, you probably recall the coach walking around with a clipboard, hastily scribbling notes. Your athletic performance was dutifully noted with each stroke of the pen, and at the end, you got a report outlining how you did.

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Well, selling service isn’t as fun as high school athletics. But it is competitive (some may even call it a sport) and as the service manager, it’s your responsibility to keep tabs on how your team is doing. That’s why it helps to comb the service drive each day, with a coach’s clipboard in hand, taking notes on each writer’s performance.

Act like a coach; train your service team for success

You’re the coach on the service drive – and it’s up to you to lead your team to victory. Using a checklist to evaluate advisor performance helps document where each of your players can improve. That way you can make adjustments, build strength and eventually take home a win.


When you create your checklist, make it so it can be reprinted and used for every advisor. The document should include the following questions and look something like this:

A step-by-step playbook

For your team to win, advisors should complete the above steps every time there’s a customer on the service drive. One-on-one coaching, along with a review of the checklist, can help lackluster performers get up to speed if needed.

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Let’s take a closer look at why each item on the list is essential for success:

1. Welcome the guest appropriately

Every customer should be acknowledged as soon as they pull onto the service drive. A genuine smile and a friendly “hello” are the first steps towards initiating trust.

2. Utilize the pre-work information

Did the customer make an appointment beforehand? If so, the advisor should refer to the available pre-work information to expedite the check-in process.

3. Pronounce the vehicle mileage

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Sometimes, advisors ask the customer for estimated mileage instead of walking to the vehicle for the odometer reading. Inaccuracies and lost sales often result from such negligence. After all, you can’t recommend routine maintenance without knowing vehicle mileage first.

4. Inspect for valuables and inform the guest

Leaving a wallet behind – or worse yet, a cellphone, since everyone is connected 24/7 – can be a huge inconvenience for a guest. Valuables that are forgotten can also present a liability for you and your team. Therefore, it’s important to ensure customers don’t leave anything of importance behind.

5. Verify the primary concern

Confirming the customer’s primary concern allows the advisor to pass on pertinent information to the technician. The result is fewer comebacks and increased productivity.

6. Turn on the lights

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Make sure all lights are working while the vehicle is on the service drive. Doing so will promote safety while also increasing sales.

7. Release the hood

Some of the most important parts of a vehicle are hidden in the engine compartment. That’s why advisors should pop the hood on every car.

8. Offer and explain the Complimentary Multi-Point Inspection

Customers are more likely to purchase recommended service if a courtesy check is offered (not required) and explained early on.

9. Offer and explain the Service Menu

Many customers don’t know when maintenance is due or why its necessary. Walking through the service menu is a great way to educate guests while also increasing sales.

10. Inspect the tires WITH the customer

Tires are a safety item that should be checked every visit. Also, tire sales and related service increase when a customer gets to see worn-out tread firsthand.

11. Compliment the vehicle appropriately

Admiring a customers vehicle helps build pride of ownership and encourages additional care.

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12. Make appropriate accessory recommendations

Could a customer use accessories such as a set of floor mats or a bed liner? Find out and make recommendations as necessary.


13. Open the hood and inspect wear items

Taking a quick peek under the hood can reveal a myriad of issues. Finding such problems with the owner present is a great way to upsell service while increasing customer satisfaction.

14. Explain how to inspect fluids

A little knowledge goes a long way. Educating customers on under-hood fluids helps to promote awareness and build trust.

15. Make recommendations and ask for the sale

Nearly every vehicle that’s more than a couple years old can benefit from one or more services. Advisors should always make recommendations and ask for the sale.

Get off the bench and into the game

A good coach is what truly makes a team successful. Are you ready for your service department to get off the bench and into the game? Then start implementing the coach’s checklist at your dealership.