The National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence, which certifies technicians and parts specialists, has developed a similar program for the 48,000 service advisers working at dealerships. It will debut in May.
Financed by automakers, car dealers and aftermarket chains, the Service Consultant Certification program will test candidates' communication and sales skills, as well as knowledge of vehicle systems, service maintenance intervals, warranty service contracts, service bulletins, vehicle identification and shop operations. The institute is in Herndon, Va.
Bill Bergen, associate dean of product and technical education for the University of Toyota, a learning center primarily for Toyota employees, dealers and suppliers in Torrance, Calif., said the test could result in better diagnosis, lower repair cost and higher customer satisfaction. He said service advisers often misinterpret what customers say and convey the wrong information to technicians.
"A technician can be chasing off in a direction that really doesn't solve the performance problem," Bergen said. "If they treat customers with care and communicate well, they establish trust, and that will mean more sales in the future. If service consultants are rude, they will lose sales."
The test will be given twice a year - in May and November - at more than 750 U.S. locations. Service consultants must have at least two years experience before they are eligible to take the test.
"They don't have to know how to diagnose and fix problems," said Tricia Serratore, vice president of industry relations for the institute, "but we expect them to have some understanding of the systems and how they operate."
The price has not been determined, but it is expected to be similar to other certification exams - $28 to register and $23 for the test. The certification must be renewed every five years.