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What Does an Automotive Service Writer Do?

An automotive service writer is often the first person someone interacts with at a car dealership.
Automotive service writers often become familiar with common diagnostic codes and can explain them in a way customers can understand.
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  • Written By: C. Mitchell
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 15 September 2014
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In most cases, an automotive service writer acts as a liaison between a car repair customer and automotive technicians. He or she is usually the first person that a customer interacts with in a repair shop or dealership, and is responsible for making up a work order, estimating charges, and confirming the fidelity of any repairs performed. The automotive service writer, sometimes also called a service adviser, is often described as the face of the repair shop. Customers rarely get to interact with repair technicians directly. In most cases, they must rely on the service writer’s statements and estimates, and must funnel all questions through that person.

Customer service is the primary part of any automotive service writer job. The service writer is usually the person that a customer speaks to on the phone when service is first scheduled, and is also the person who greets the customer in the shop. Good communication skills are essential. Customers who have trouble scheduling an appointment or who feel overlooked in the shop are likely to take their business elsewhere in the future, no matter how good the repairs are.

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Noting all services that need to be performed is also part of the automotive service writer job description. Skilled service writers may also recommend services based on the car’s repair history, age, or mileage. A customer who comes in for a standard oil change may walk away with a complete fluid flush, tire rotation, and belt diagnostic workup, depending on the sales skills of the service writer.

The service writer is also responsible for giving the customer an accurate estimate of how much the repair is likely to cost, and must usually make an estimate of how long the repairs will take to complete. It is usually up to the writer to explain all procedures and answer any questions that may arise. Most of the time, the service writer is also responsible for arranging a rental car or dealership loaner if the repairs will take longer than a day.

Checking on repairs as they progress is a part of nearly all automotive service writer jobs, as well. If a repair is taking longer than expected, or looks as though it will cost more than originally estimated, it is the writer's responsibility to pass this information on to the customer. Service writers often spend a lot of time shuffling between the front desk and the back auto body shop. The more clients a service writer juggles at once, the more complex the job becomes.

Once a car has been satisfactorily repaired, the service writer is usually the one who helps the customer navigate through the paperwork. He or she is also the one responsible for collecting payment. The job does not usually end once the customer leaves, however. Relationship building and follow-up are both important automotive service writer requirements, at least where job success is concerned. Forging lasting relationships between customers is one of the primary ways that service writers keep their business bubbling.

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