One of the hardest parts of being a consultant is creating change and making it stick. We are not the kind of consulting company that comes in, studies the way you do things, makes recommendations and leaves. We study your store, come up with recommendations, and help you implement and sustain these changes.
I have come across several stores where the advisors are more concerned with getting the customer’s main concern, a signature on a write-up sheet, and then sending the customer on their way.
When asking these advisors why they don’t keep the customer at the desk or the car until the write-up is complete, I have received several reasons why:
- “The customer can’t wait”
- “It would take too long to complete the repair order with the customer here”
- “As long as I get a signature on the write-up sheet that’s all I need”
- “I don’t have time to do everything I need to do during write-up”
Is this really the truth, or have we allowed our advisors to live in the “Get it out mode”? Most of the time the advisors are dismissing the customer before completing the write-up, thinking they are doing them some big favor.
A well-structured write-up process takes 5 to 10 minutes to complete when it is a routine. Should we not spend at least 10 minutes with the customer on the phone, during the appointment, or on the service drive when they drop off?
Most manufacturers require the write-up form to have the customer’s name, address, phone number, and email, complete VIN, mileage, all concerns and a customer’s signature. A partial VIN, mileage, last name, and complaint is not enough for a valid warranty claim or estimate.
Do advisors have time to run around reacting to poor write-ups, no time commitments, no estimates and/or rejected claims, charged back or customer complaints because of an incomplete write-up?
How did we get here? Well there are several reasons. Some advisors have been allowed to form their own write-up process. Some advisors are not held accountable for their responsibilities, and yet others feel like they have been doing this so long they really don’t need to have a process. They wing it…
An example I have heard several times after hearing the customer state their concern/s: “We will ‘Check it out’ and I will call you this afternoon.” What does this mean? Check it out? We have some magical machine we hook it up to and it checks it out? I will call you this afternoon? Is that 12:01 pm or 6:00 pm?
How about this?” I will have your certified trained technician run a series of tests. He will hook your vehicle up to a scan tool and run through several diagnostic flow charts and take voltage measurements to determine exactly what is causing your concern. This will cost __________ and I will call and update you by 2:00 pm. Is this agreeable with you?”
Sounds much better than “I’ll check it out and call you this afternoon.” Well this is just one of several steps that should happen with every customer every time.
Spend some time on your drive and if you hear or see any of these examples you should correct this immediately. It is causing some major concerns—customer retention, technician frustration, phone overload, chaos at the cashier window, and much more.
Professional write-ups always cover:
- The proper greeting. Listening and identifying the customer’s primary concern/s.
- Offering an explanation of what will be done to correct the customer’s concern/s. An estimate for diagnoses if necessary. When we will update the customer on the progress of maintenance, repair, or diagnoses.
- A vehicle inspection to verify concern/s, check for body damage, tire condition, wipers, verifying VIN and mileage (bare minimums).
- Administrative information, name, address, phone numbers, email and how they would like to be contacted–phone, text or email.
- Recommended maintenance (Factory and Dealer’s). All manufacturers require more than just oil changes.
- Asking the customer permission to perform a vehicle inspection. “Would it be ok to have one of our factory-trained technicians look over the vehicle and if they find something in the red or yellow would it be ok to contact you and review these items?”
- A review of all items discussed, an estimate, and a progress update or completion time.
If your Customer Satisfaction Scores are below your expectations, your technicians are not producing to their potential or frustrated and your net is down, one of the first places to look is where the tire meets the drive, Service Write-up!
If you are looking for ways to create a better write-up, I am here to help. Please don’t hesitate to call or email so we can help you develop a plan to get your drive back on track.
Written by Joe Carroll