For many of us, a visit to the Service Department is a less than “personal” experience. Once waited on at the service desk, our requests and concerns are hurriedly noted by a person behind the desk who, if we are lucky, appears to be listening. Our keys are handed over and a tentative pickup time is determined. If all goes well, upon our return, the work is done, a bill is completed and the car is in no worse condition than the way we left it. The experience may or may not be satisfactory.
Let’s look at why. Some managers and advisors respond that there is not enough time to give the personal service that is performed by the smaller operations and independents. There seem to be many reasons given as to why we cannot compete when it comes to personal service: the booking of repair orders, telephones, making service reservations. Sometimes an operation may be so large that a fleet of porters may be delivering the vehicle to the customer rather the advisor. And in some cases this may be the only way to get the vehicle back to the customer. These are all real reasons. However, let’s ask ourselves a question. How much time is being wasted due to not having an active delivery process in place? The answers vary of course; however, a lot of managers agree that there are times when vehicles that have not been properly delivered to a customer ended up creating much more work. A large amount of effort is then required to correct a situation that could have been avoided if the vehicle had been delivered back to the customer properly. For example, a customer picks up their vehicle assuming that repairs have been completed, only to find that parts have been ordered when they are notified by telephone or mail by the parts department. Another example relates to the time required when a customer arrives to retrieve their vehicle and the estimate is not what was agreed upon when the vehicle was left for service. Another question is how much actual time is it going to take to make an active delivery? Even if you were only able to the “minimum” active delivery would we not gain relative improvement in communication and better relationships with our customers? Improving communication and building relationships is the ultimate goal of performing active delivery. The minimum active delivery is covered in the five steps to a successful service delivery covered later in this article in detail. However, the first two steps are critical and that is, the closing of the repair order and confirmation of quality control. And, at the absolute minimum, we must at least call the customer to notify them that their vehicle has been completed.
Active delivery is a process developed to make the service “experience” the type of customer- oriented interaction necessary for customer satisfaction. It is an interactive process focusing on the customer. The service advisor plays a major role in this process. A successful completion of the process leads to a successful service experience. A key component of active delivery is the basic dealership layout. Where is the service advisor located? Is he or she within the drive-through area or in an area remote to the drive-through? Another component to consider is the location of the cashier to the service area. Is the cashier in close proximity to the service advisor’s desk or in an area remote to the advisor? Specific employee locations and how such locations impact the flow of active delivery will be discussed later. To consider further are the types of job classifications found within the dealership. Positions found within the dealership structure may vary. What positions are available within the dealership? Positions to be considered are: service advisor, porter, cashier, booker, manager, warranty administrator, and assistant production manager. Note that job descriptions may also vary, so make certain that the position has a well-defined job description. It is important to point out that each store is different and in some cases unique. We have listed several ways that they are currently being used. Each manager will have to make decisions as to which methods and techniques would work in their own facilities, based on their store’s physical layout, service advisor abilities, service advisor duties and the requirements of your customers, just to list few. Service advisors may not always be able to personally deliver to the customer. Therefore, you have to ask yourself, “Is there somebody else that could deliver the vehicle back to the customer?” If there is someone and you do not have an active delivery process in place, you should gain relative improvement by having someone other than the advisor. Regardless of what process you choose or use, there is always the possibility that it can fail; this is true with any management technique. You may not be able to implement many of these techniques. However, if you are able to choose just a few of the techniques in this article and employ them, you would almost certainly enjoy some relative improvement.
- Review and Closing of the Repair Order
There are five (5) steps to active delivery. The critical steps are steps one and two. These would be considered to be the minimums. The first step is to review and close out the repair order. Copies of all repair orders are gathered, including any service contract information, customer history, check sheets, and warranty information. The repair orders are reviewed, verifying that all of the requested work has been performed. Special order parts information is verified as it pertains to the special order parts procedure for the department. The charges for individual operations are compared and the total charges to the estimate are provided to the customer. All technical information is verified and recorded on the repair order. This should include, but not be limited to: C.C.C., punch time, additional recommendations, and prices and estimates for any additional work. An estimate for all additional repairs that could not be completed during the day’s service is noted on the repair order. The technician’s pay is manually or electronically “flagged” for work performed. The invoices are reviewed and totaled.
- Confirmation of Quality Control
The second step is the confirmation of quality control. In this step the service advisor’s responsibilities are reviewed as related to the department’s quality control process. Processes to include in this step are those related to special order parts, repair orders, and the review of inspections performed by others, such as the shop foreman, QC inspector, team leader, group leader and porter. Efforts need to focus on what specific types of information need to appear on the repair order. Specific information may include, but not be limited to the following: whether the vehicle is operating to specifications, problem found or not found at this time, drivability repairs, major engine/electrical/transmission operations, safety operations, customer-perceived come-backs, and specific-order parts installations. Each vehicle is checked for damage and cleanliness. Vehicle cleanup is verified (if this commitment was made to the customer).
Written by David Dietrich
This is Part 1 in a three-part article. (view Part 2) (view Part 3)