Symco podcastSymco podcast

Supplier Tips

Service staff are key to selling customers their next car and increasing dealership profitability

Sponsored: Simon Bowkett and Jeff Cowan discuss how having the best service advisors can make you a winning team on the Selling in the Motor Trade podcast in association with Symco.


Time 8:04 am, April 25, 2023

Car dealerships are missing out on potential extra spend from customers – and even future car sales – by not prioritsing training for their service advisors. 

Selling in the Motor Trade podcast host Simon Bowkett from Symco discussed this with Jeff Cowan from Pro Talk on the show. Cowan explained that he’s found everyone wants to focus on online sales but the reality is only one in 10 sales globally is done this way.

He said: ‘That’s one of the things that I think is missing right now in the car business. They seem to be just gung ho on becoming an Amazon where you don’t have to talk to customers. 

‘And what they’re missing is that even Amazon doesn’t want to be Amazon anymore. Amazon understands that salespeople are key. 

‘I like this stat and I think your listeners will too. Even though so much business is done online, right now, as we’re sitting here filming, doing this podcast is 87 per cent of any sale that’s made in the world still requires face-to-face, eyeball-to-eyeball or voice-to-voice contact. 

‘Of the 13 per cent who buy their stuff online, half of those people won’t take delivery of the product or service until they talk to somebody.’

The Selling in the Motor Trade podcast, in association with Symco, looks each week at how car dealers can implement different techniques within their business to increase sales. In this episode Bowkett and Cowan examine those in dealership relationships and how simple changes can increase profitability.

You can listen to the podcast in full by clicking here to visit the Symco website.

Building the relationship is a key factor for many customers, and the service desk is a key point of contact for them. 

Cowan highlighted on the podcast that, compared to salespeople, service advisors will speak to up to four times as many customers each month, saying: ‘The salesperson sees them once the service advisor sees them anywhere, depending on the vehicle and how it’s driven two to four times a year. So if the customer just drives that car for three years, that’s 12 times.’

Bowkett commented: ‘Something I was taught by my first service manager. He said, Simon never forget car salespeople only sell the first car. 

‘It’s the service people, they sell the second the third the ongoing sale. And I think it’s so true. 

‘How often have you been on that counter and the customer comes up and says hey Jeff that new hybrid technology is any good or not? Because Bob in sales says it is but you’ll tell me the truth.’

However, Cowan added that it can go a step further than this and if salespeople set the correct servicing expectations for customers they can help the service advisor sell, and secure those second and third car sales.

He explained: ‘[The customer] drives for 100,000 miles, and the whole time they’re driving it, the service advisor, never up sells them on the preventative maintenance, never helps them out the repairs and the like. 

‘So then at the end of that 100,000 miles, the customer looks back and says, ‘I don’t know if I want these, because the salesperson told me this one would last me 400,000 miles and cost me almost no money but the last two years alone it has cost me two or $3,000, you know, to keep it running. So why would I want to go back and buy another one?’

‘Now, it cost them that much because they never did the service, but the customer will never admit that. So they go someplace else because they don’t see the value. 

‘On the flip side, if you’ve got a service advisor that knows how to build that relationship, and sells them what they need all along the way, the oil changes, the maintenance, the repairs, and the tires and all that stuff. 

‘Then at 100,000 kilometers, the customer looks back and says ‘you know what? The salesperson told me if I took care of this car, and I did that I should be able to drive at 100,000 100,000 miles with with little or no expense and that really happened. So I think I’m gonna go back and get another one because obviously this is a great car’. So yes, they can sell the second car, if they’re selling the customer the whole time.’

Find out more about the Selling in the Motor Trade podcast and how you could make some simple changes to increase profitability at

Rebecca Chaplin's avatar

Rebecca has been a motoring and business journalist since 2014, previously writing and presenting for titles such as the Press Association, Auto Express and Car Buyer. She has worked in many roles for Car Dealer Magazine’s publisher Blackball Media including head of editorial.

More stories...

Server 108