An automotive service manager is responsible for overseeing the service department in an automotive dealership. The qualifications to become an automotive service manager vary greatly, depending on the dealership. Generally, on top of work experience, a service manager usually has some background in automotive repair and may have been either a certified technician or a service adviser for several years before becoming a manager.
The service manager has a number of duties. He typically oversees the current staff and ensures that they are up-to-date on their certifications and training, and he hires new staff as necessary. This person is responsible for marketing the department, running sales or promotions to increase customer traffic, and must operate within the dealership budget. He must also be aware of warranties and manufacturer recalls, since the department will deal with these matters on a regular basis. On top of these basic duties, it is important that the manager deal with customer concerns and maintain a high Customer Service Index (CSI), which is the universal customer satisfaction scoring system for car dealerships.
For someone to become an automotive service manager, a working knowledge of car parts and basic auto functions is important. Some managers were technicians at one point in time, or at least were service advisers. Without this kind of prior experience, many dealerships will not consider the candidate for management in this department.
Although a degree is usually not required, having one can be helpful when pursuing this career. A degree in business, or equivalent years of experience in sales or management, is usually necessary. Likewise, an associates degree or certification in automotive service is a plus.
For those with little experience in either field, the best course of action is to seek a position as an automotive service adviser, which is sometimes also called a service consultant. Advisers deal with customers and get practical experience in an automotive dealership. It is a good place to gain exposure to service terms and the functions of the department. To work toward management, advisers can take courses in business and automotive technology in order to expand their knowledge and make them more marketable.
As with any management position, experience is the most important factor to become an automotive service manager. Maintaining high CSI levels with customers, having a consistent work record, and regularly working to better yourself are factors that can help someone get hired. Getting a foot in the door at a dealership and proving your worth are usually the first steps.