This is the second part in a three-part series. Be sure to check back next week for part 3.
If you missed part 1, you can find it here: Part 1
The most critical component of any service department transaction is the initial customer contact, i.e., when the customer calls to set up an appointment. The impression made by the employee taking the call, and the information taken, sets the tone that will determine the success of the transaction regarding both customer satisfaction and service sales. With express drop-off and pick-up, it is imperative that the dealership employees handling the reservation process receive thorough training on the process.
Upon receiving a service call for an appointment, the service advisor asks the customer if he or she has previously used express drop-off. If not, the service advisor reviews the details of the process, confirms the owner information in the computer, and makes any necessary changes.
From this point, the reservation process continues in the same manner as scheduling an appointment for any type of service. The service advisor asks the appropriate questions to ensure that the information is accurate for generation of a repair order. The service advisor confirms all customer concerns and suggests needed maintenance as outlined on the service menu. Express drop-off and pick-up appointments should be designated as such when added to the service department production schedule.
Menu presentations for express drop-off customers must be performed when the reservation is being made on the telephone. Most customers will not spend much time in the drive, due to the premise of express drop-off. This is the only time a presentation can be made, if the process does not require any employee/customer interaction.
If the service department is on traditional dispatch, the service advisor must identify the repair order as an express drop-off and pick-up to ensure timely dispatch by the dispatcher. Regardless of organizational structure, the customer must not become a carryover for any unsubstantiated reason. Holdovers due to parts unavailability or required labor time constraints are the only acceptable potential carryovers. The credibility of express drop-off and pick-up may be compromised if the customer’s vehicle is not ready for pick up at the agreed-upon time for any other reason.
A number of approaches can be used for the customer reception process. The primary consideration is the physical layout of the service department’s customer reception area. Each store has its specific design and physical characteristics, which to some degree dictate the optimum design of the overall process.
When possible, a designated parking area should be provided for express drop-off customers. It must be made clear to the entire staff that no vehicles are to be parked in this area other than those belonging to express drop-off customers. A small area can be set aside at first and expanded as dictated by increases in volume. The vehicle goes to the appropriate parking area when the customer arrives for service.
Signage, or specifically colored lines, can be used to identify the areanumbering or lettering the spaces should also be considered. Freestanding signs can be used to direct customers to the parking area or indicate specific rows for parking. The designated parking area should be maintained free of debris, and trash receptacles should be readily available within the area as a customer courtesy. Designated parking for express customers is also used for drop-off when “early bird” is necessary.
When the customer has a reservation for service, all information for drop-off should have been entered into the computer prior to his or her arrival. However, this information must be gathered after arrival for express drop-off customers without an appointment. A form for this purpose already exists in most service departments“early bird” or “night drop” forms can be used, perhaps with some modification, as an express drop-off form.
The customer completes the express drop-off form once the he or she has parked the vehicle in the appropriate location. The obvious information is the customer name, address, telephone number(s) and vehicle license number, year, make, and model. An area for requested service work should also be included.
You should also consider the legal side of the envelopeitems such as estimate information, damage disclaimer and authorization to perform service workand that the form meets all specific manufacturer guidelines for warranty reimbursement. Have the completed form reviewed by the company attorney to ensure compliance with all legal requirements to protect the dealership and the customer.
Establish a specific area for customers to prepare express drop-off forms. Consider the location of this areait should be covered to allow the paperwork to be completed out of the elements. This area can be in the service department, inside the service drive or outside under some type of shelter.
The write-up area should display instructions for filling out the form, what to do with the form once it is completed, and that customers can expect a telephone call from their service advisor when the vehicle is received. After completing the form, customers place their keys inside the envelope and deposit them into the appropriate receptacle. Service menus can be included in the write-up area. A menu board can also be displayed listing any current specials and competitively priced items.
After receiving the vehicle, the service advisor should call the customer to confirm the primary item/s on the repair order, and to provide a clear explanation of charges for the requested work.
A hat number is then assigned and the vehicle is removed from the express drop-off area and placed with the other vehicles to be serviced. The vehicle then goes through the normal workflow process. The repair order should specify that the customer is using express drop-off and pick-up.
Continued next week in part 3!