Well Begun is Half Done

I often recall my first automotive electrical troubleshooting class and the effect it had on my philosophy on the importance of starting things off on the right foot. We were working on the scenario of a short in the ignition control module wiring. The instructor advised us to gain a clear understanding of all circuits, connectors, splices, fuses, and wires associated with the component prior to attempting any repairs. He cautioned us to first determine a logical systematic progression of isolation to avoid unnecessary removal of components not associated with the circuit. Or, to paraphrase his instruction: “You don’t just want to go over halfcocked and start tearing stuff apart and aggravating things; wasting a bunch of time for no reason!”

I am reminded of that lesson each time a situation arises that involves wasted time, wasted steps, and short circuits caused by poor communication at the beginning of the client interaction process. I have included a sampling of “well begun” gone awry for review.

WARNING: The following depictions may cause discomfort to those suffering from any of the following: Insufficient net profit, poor customer retention, technician turnover, and advisor burn-out!

During a recent service department evaluation, a technician was overheard complaining that he had been hunting for a “booming noise in the front end of the car all morning” only to find out that the customer wasn’t concerned with that noise, but the one in the “rear of the car.”

It was determined that the vehicle had been written up on Saturday by the Quick Lube Manager (along with the other 40 cars that day). The actual write up showed “booming noise in front.”  When asked if the write-up process incorporates a “Noise, Vibration, and Harshness” (NVH) questionnaire? The manager stated: He “remembered seeing something like that once.”

NOTE: The NVH and Senses questionnaires, when utilized in conjunction with a demonstration of the concern (by the client). Is a good example of a write-up process that is “well begun” and will increase the probability of a successful repair attempt, and insure the technician is given correct information to maximize their productivity.

The following are observations made at two separate dealerships in different markets.

(observation 1-noted during Quick Lube write-up evaluation)

A Client entered the write-up area requesting an “Oil Change” and to a recheck an “engine light on for the 3rd time.” Almost immediately, the attending “Express Lube Advisor” stated that he would have to reschedule an appointment for next week to look at the light. The Client, perplexed at this point, offers to leave his vehicle for a couple of days if needed so they could “fix it right this time.” After a brief deliberation with the original Service Advisor, it was determined that they could look at it right away. This eventually led to a lengthy explanation of the complexity of the repair, which the Client didn’t seem the least bit interested in. Eventually it was agreed that the Client would leave his vehicle to have it repaired correctly.

(observation 2- different market; different mfg.)

A Client enters the Service Write-Up area requesting an Oil Change and to inspect a “Oil-ishy” leak from under the front of her vehicle. In addition, she wanted to know if they would check everything over like her tires since there was some inclement weather forecasted for the area and she wanted it to be safe. After a brief pause, the attending Advisors informed her that he could get to her Oil Change, but would (you guessed it) have to make an appointment for the leak. Ironically, he went on to inform her that as part of the Oil change they would perform a complementary 23-point inspection. To which the Client replied: “So what does a 23-point inspection do?”

Do you have any “short circuits” in the customer handling process at your store?

Written by Gary Sergent

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