Nearly half of all service advisers at new-vehicle dealerships will leave their jobs this year, if recent trends are any indication. Although there are plenty of sources of stress on advisers, dissatisfaction with pay plans is a major cause of defection.
A large share of advisers' pay is routinely based on their success at persuading customers to buy additional services and products when they come to the dealership's shop for other reasons — scheduled maintenance, a recall, an oil change. Dealers say such selling is not only valid but necessary to keep customers and their vehicles safe, and that it's proper to compensate advisers on that basis.
But advisers often complain of feeling pressured to sell their customers big-ticket items they neither want nor need right away, eroding those customers' trust and satisfaction. Many advisers say they don't want so much of their pay to depend on commission sales.
The challenge for dealerships: to pay advisers in a way that incentivizes them to sell legitimate work without leaning on them to sell indiscriminately. But as dealerships and industry consultants seek to develop pay plans that benefit both stores and service advisers, turnover among advisers continues to grow.
That rate hit 49 percent in 2017 — an increase of 10 percentage points from only two years earlier — according to the National Automobile Dealers Association's Dealership Workforce Study (last year's rate was not available). Service advisers at franchised dealerships earned an average of about $68,000 last year, industry studies say.