What Is an Automotive Service Writer and What Do They Do?

10/30/2020

Key Points

  • Automotive service writers are the first and last point of contact for customers at car dealerships and repair shops.
  • They need to have expert automotive knowledge and excellent communication skills to identify and explain customer problems.
  • Automotive service writers greet customers, write up customer information, communicate with technicians and manage service work.
  • Training to become an automotive service writer may require an automotive trade school education and certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).
  • The salary of automotive service writers varies depending on factors such as experience, employer and location.

At car dealerships and automotive repair shops, automotive service writers are usually the first and last contact a customer has with a shop. They’re the ones who greet customers, listen to the problems a client is having with their vehicles, communicate to the team of automotive technicians what the problem is, and act as the liaison between the shop or dealership and the customer every step of the way.

Automotive service writers need to have expert automotive knowledge so they can help identify and explain the problems a customer is having. They also have to be great listeners, friendly and excellent communicators.

Car problems are stressful. An automotive service writer can make or break the client's experience. Service writers also affect how efficiently technicians complete the work that needs to be done.

If working as a service writer sounds interesting to you, read on for what a typical day is like, how to become an automotive service writer and what the career path might look like.

Automotive Service Writer Job Description

Automotive service writers typically work in car repair shops or at dealerships. Most have technician knowledge or experience that qualifies them for the customer-facing role, and those who work at dealerships might have expert knowledge of a particular brand of cars. All service writers interact with multiple parties and should thrive as communicators and collaborators.

What are the Responsibilities of a Service Writer?  

Service writers are the bridge between customers and technicians. To summarize, they greet customers, take the time to understand their needs, and then communicate them to the appropriate technician, but the role is a bit more involved than that. Additional responsibilities include: 

  • Greeting customers and asking them to explain the car issue. 
  • Writing up customer information.
  • Communicating customer information to the best-fit technician.
  • Inputting customer and vehicle information into a customer relationship management system and service database.
  • Writing and tracking service work.
  • Updating the customer on progress and/or changes along the way.
  • Creating automotive work estimates by determining labor, supplies and materials needed.
  • Requesting parts needed to complete the job.
  • Communicating cost, time estimate and warranty information to customers.
  • Scheduling service and repairs with the customer.
  • Billing clients and managing work transactions.
  • Responding to customer questions and communications during the service process.

Important Auto Service Writer Traits

As mentioned above, service writers can make or break an auto care center. They spend their day interacting with customers and technicians and often feel a sense of responsibility to both parties. 

For customers, they must take the time to fully understand their needs. Sometimes, this means asking clarifying questions and explaining the service or repair process in a way the customer understands.  

For technicians, they must provide them with all the information they need to do their job successfully. This includes accurately relaying the customers’ needs to the technician and helping them gather the materials and parts to complete the job. Service writers must also take the time to understand the technicians’ findings and then clearly communicate their recommendations to the customer.

The most successful service writers display the following traits

  • Interpersonal skills. 
  • Written and verbal communication skills.
  • Professionalism. 
  • Creative problem-solving. 
  • Adaptability. 
  • Analytical skills. 
  • Attention to detail. 

If this is an automotive career path you’re interested in pursuing, consider attending UTI’s Automotive Technology program first.1 Our passionate instructors double as mentors, helping students build technical knowledge and refine crucial soft skills. 

How To Train to Become an Automotive Service Writer

Different employers will have different requirements for service writer positions. Auto service writer positions typically don’t require a traditional college education, but some employers will require an automotive trade school education. The reason is training on the vehicles that a shop or dealership services can prepare automotive service writers to communicate better with clients and technicians.

Sometimes, dealerships require the completion of automotive specialized training programs for the brands they sell. Some shops and other employers also expect their automotive service writers to be certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) since it offers the top credentials for service technicians.

Some automotive service writers had experience as automotive technicians before moving into service writer roles. For automotive technicians who crave working directly with customers, making the transition to service writer can keep them working in a shop or at a dealership in a people-facing, more administrative role.

Automotive Service Writer Salary & Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn’t provide data specifically on automotive service writers. However, it does provide insight into automotive service technicians and mechanics, which is a role that some service writers have before making the transition.

According to the BLS, the median annual salary for automotive service technicians and mechanics in the United States was $47,770 in May 2023.25 This means half of automotive technicians earned more and half earned less. Keep in mind that salary depends on several factors, including experience, employer, demand and cost of living in the area.

The ratio of automotive service writers to automotive technicians depends on the shop or dealership. Some locations have one automotive service writer for every one or two technicians. Others may have one for up to five or six technicians. Automotive service writers are an instrumental part of a shop or dealership’s success, so they play a meaningful role in any type of shop or dealership environment.

Because automotive service writers constantly work with both customers and technicians, the communication skills they develop as service writers and the automotive knowledge they cultivate can prepare them for careers in automotive service management.

FAQs

How does an auto care center service writer contribute to the operation?

A service writer plays a crucial role in the smooth operation of an auto service center by acting as the primary point of contact between customers and the service team. They manage service schedules, communicate repair needs and updates, and address/relay customer concerns promptly, facilitating a seamless service experience.

What is a service writer vs. service advisor?

The difference between a service writer and a service advisor is their scope of duties. While both involve customer interaction and coordination of repair services, a service advisor typically provides technical advice, diagnosing vehicle issues alongside technicians. Becoming a service writer may help prepare you for this more advanced position.  

Is automotive service writing difficult? 

Service writing is a fast-paced role, but with the proper training, it can be both exciting and fulfilling! Gain the knowledge you need to pursue this career path in less than one year at UTI,7 where you’ll take automotive courses like Professional Service Writing and Advanced Technology/Hybrid & Service Advising.33    

Interested in Training to Becoming an Automotive Service Writer?

Because automotive service writer positions are not always as plentiful as technician positions and many service writers move into their roles after working as technicians, automotive technology training can help aspiring automotive service writers grow their careers. With a formal automotive trade school education background, graduates are ready to pursue an entry-level position as a technician or a service writer role if they have excellent communication skills.

At UTI, the Automotive Technology program covers the topic of service writing. Students learn about the written and verbal communication skills they need to help them succeed in an automotive service writing role at a dealership or shop. This training is exceptional to highlight on a résumé when applying for an automotive service writer position.                                                                                                                                                  

Plus, the automotive training at UTI provides students with entry-level technician knowledge, and can be substituted for one of the two years of work experience required to become ASE certified. Both of these may also be requirements for certain automotive service writer positions.

To learn more about UTI’s automotive program, which takes just 51 weeks to complete and is offered at locations across the country, request more information, or call 1-800-834-7308. Ready to enroll? Enroll online.

UTI Campuses That Offer Automotive Technician Training

Avondale, Arizona.

Long Beach, California.

Rancho Cucamonga, California.

Sacramento, California.

Miramar, Florida.

Orlando, Florida.

Lisle, Illinois.

Bloomfield, New Jersey.

Mooresville, North Carolina.

Exton, Pennsylvania.

Austin, Texas.

Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas.

Houston, Texas.

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1 ) UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.
2 ) For program outcome information and other disclosures, visit www.uti.edu/disclosures.
7 ) Some programs may require longer than one year to complete.
25 ) UTI’s Automotive Technology Program prepares graduates for entry-level positions using the provided training, primarily as automotive technicians. Estimated annual salary shown above is for Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics as published in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2023 Occupational Employment and Wages. Entry-level salaries are lower for UTI graduates. UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary. UTI graduates’ achievements may vary. Individual circumstances and wages depend on economic factors, personal credentials, work experience, industry certifications, the location of the employer, and their compensation programs. Some UTI graduates get jobs within their field of study in positions other than as an automotive technician, such as service writer, smog inspector, and parts associate. Salary information for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: The average annual entry-level salary for persons employed as Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics (49-3023) in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is $36,730 (Massachusetts Labor and Workforce Development, May 2022 data https://lmi.dua.eol.mass.gov/lmi/OccupationalEmploymentAndWageAllIndustries/OEWResult?A=01&GA=000025&OG=493023&Dopt=TEXT) Salary information for North Carolina: The U.S. Department of Labor estimates the hourly median wage for skilled automotive technicians in North Carolina is $22.39 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, May 2023 Occupational Employment and Wages, Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics). The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not publish entry-level salary data. However, the 25th and 10th percentile of hourly earnings in North Carolina are $16.63 and $14.06, respectively.
33 ) Courses vary by campus. For details, contact the program representative at the campus you are interested in attending.

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