Man talking(L+r), Mechanic working on engine(c)

Standret/Shutterstock @kc.catalina/Tiktok (Licensed)

‘They end up making like $15,000 a month’: Dealership technician issues warning about service advisors

‘It seems like every couple months a new advisor is walking in.’


Jack Alban


Car dealerships are notorious money pits. Plenty of social media posts uploaded online detail the possible scams associated with them, along with revelations from workers themselves on how folks can protect themselves from having to fork over more money than they should for work on their vehicle.

TikTok user KC Catalina (@kc.catalina) didn’t exactly delve into what he calls a “scam” at a car dealership, but rather a “rift” he noticed that takes place between service advisors, technicians, and dealership managers.

Why dealership technicians are weary of service advisors

He says that service advisor positions are a “revolving door” in car dealerships for a reason. Advisors are tasked with selling service plans to customers who visit the dealership, and they receive a commission as part of their payment plans at these dealerships. As a result, he says that initially, service advisors end up making a lot of money, and once management sees that they’re raking in that much cash, they immediately cut back their earnings by working on a new payment plan.

Catalina goes on to say that these new payment plans almost always result in less money for service advisors, which then leaves them disgruntled and in search of greener employment pastures.

He addressed service advisor pay in a TikTok video response to another user on the application who said that they routinely see service advisors earn around $15,000 per month. As a dealership technician, Catalina says that pay is par for the course among service advisors.

“This right here is part of the problem. Advisors are always a revolving door it seems like these days. Technicians have to buy tools, we kill our bodies, all the liability is on us, and we pretty much have to hold the service advisors hand anyways,” he says. “But one of the problems these days is these advisors are getting brought in at ridiculous pay plans.”

Catalina says a service advisor at his former dealership made $15,000 a month—until his manager caught on. “These advisors come in and they start to get good, they start to sell really well, and they end up making like $15,000 a month,” and that is no joke, I know an advisor at my last dealership who was making $15,000 a month,” he says. “Problem is: as soon as that happens, the service manager starts to see those numbers and he says, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, you’re making too much, we need to re-do this pay plan.’”

At this point, the service advisor starts making $8-$9,000 a month instead. “Probably where they should be,” Catalina says, “and boom, they get p*ssed, they walk out the door, and that is a continuous revolving circle, and it seems like every couple months a new advisor is walking in and another one’s leaving.”

Commenters weigh in

One commenter seemed very happy with the prospect of even earning the “downgraded” pay that the service advisor at the dealership was making. “For 9 grand a month I will push my toolbox off a mountain with everything I own in it,” they said.

Someone else said the very nature of a car dealership seems like a financial Ponzi Scheme that is capitalizing off of consumers and technicians who are bearing the brunt of the actual work. “Dealership is just full of employees counting everyone else’s money,” they wrote.

One commenter who said that they worked as a service technician said they think service advisors definitely deserve the amount of money that they’re making: “I have been a tech for over 20 years…. I stepped into an advisor role at Mercedes and believe me advisors deserve good pay. Their job is so much more stressful than our job.”

Another claimed, “Advisor is the hardest job at a dealership hands down.”

“If the pay is not worth the stress we’re out of there,” a third added. “We got to deal with cranky techs and cranky customers and some how find a middle ground.”

Others were strictly anti-advisor.

One user argued, “Advisors shouldn’t even exist anymore. We do video and submit recommendations. All we need is some AI app that welcomes customers and asks the right questions.”

Another problem one user on the application had with advisors seemed to be rooted from the perspective of the customer: “The problem is the advisor knows nothing about cars. I want to speak to the guy fixing my vehicle.”

@kc.catalina Replying to @slow.boii123 Can anyone else relate to this? #dealershiplife #automotive #mechanic ♬ original sound – KC Catalina

How much do service advisors actually make?

One advisor in the comments section said they never made the excessive amount Catalina mentioned in his video. “I always hear about the money these advisors make but as an advisor I’ve never made more than 6K a month. I don’t get it,” they wrote.

Catalina ended up letting the user know of a job opportunity for an advisor that would set anyone up willing to work at a dealership where they could make six figures: “All depends on your area and pay plan. I am in Kansas City. I know a dealer nearby currently looking for an plan is set up for $100k easy.”

According to Indeed, the average base salary for an auto service advisor is $66,636 per year, with an average $14,700 commission earned. As of this writing, the site reports that service advisors, on the highest end, earn an average of $111,317 annually.

The Daily Dot has reached out to Catalina via email for further comment.

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