Written by David Dietrich
VII. Appointment Methods
There are many ways to determine the number of appointments to set on any given day. There are “scientific” ways and ways that seemly have no rhyme or reason. It is important to have an accurate way to ensure that you do not overbook one day and underbook the next. In one case, you have upset customers with the other technicians standing around being non-productive. Arguably setting appointments according to your shop capacity is the best way. This method is based on the premise that each technician has a daily capacity and collectively they create a shop capacity, according to who’s on deck any given day. For safety measures, it is important not to book to full capacity (100%). Most have found that due to walk-ins, tow-ins, and additional sales, 70% of capacity is a number to start at, and then adjust as business dictates. Once you have your shop capacity number, you simply set each appointment with a time assignment, and when you reach your number you are full for the day. This method works very well with Advance Production systems as well each group has its individual capacity and most computer systems are set up to handle this type of scheduling. Sounds simple enough, but the challenges come in when you have people setting appointments that have no idea of the time each job requires and no feasible way to obtain that information quickly. Now enters the body count method. Most of the time this is accomplished by the Service Manager telling the appointment people how many to take each day, again usually with no rhyme or reason. This method is very spotty at best and depends largely on the manager’s “feel”, we’re busy they count the appointments off, and we run out of work. Body count can be applied “scientifically” as well with a little thought. The thought is to join the two methods. We know how many hours a day we need to book, and we know our average hours per repair order, so if we divide the total hours needed by the average, we know basically how many repair orders and therefore appointments needed for any given day. Many times, in a BDC environment, you are dealing with people who have great phone skills, but lack an understanding of mechanical things, and in many cases, that’s best. M5 has used this “scientific body count” method many times in conjunction with BDC Consultants with tremendous success.
VIII. Essential BDC Tools
Does the BDC have essential tools? ABSOLUTELY! Every manufacturer that we are familiar with has an essential tool list for technicians. The dealership must have, keep inventory, and account for this list yearly or they are subject to non-payment of warranty claims. Most everyone familiar with fixed ops is familiar with this concept. But we have never seen an essential tool list for advisors or BDC Consultants. You would never ask a technician to do a job without the proper tools, would you? And furthermore, you wouldn’t ask a technician to properly use a tool they do not know how to use. Yet daily we ask other positions in the store to do just that, perform their job properly with the proper tools. Seems logical? On the same thought, there are essential tools that the BDC Consultants must have and know how to use it properly if we expect them to do their job properly. The following is a list of essential tools for an effective Service BDC; it can also be a good starting point for an advisor’s essential tool list. The list is not all-inclusive but is considered a basic must-have list:
- Courtesy Inspection
- Maintenance Menus
- Quick Reference pricing guides
- Service pricing guides
- BDC hot list (things that should be immediately flipped to an advisor)
- BDC immediate list (things that should be handled immediately regardless of the schedule)
- Recall parts availability board
- Current advisor list, employee number, number of appointments per day
IX. Establish current call volume
Establishing call volume by the time of day is essential to ensuring proper staffing of a Service BDC, especially from the start. It sometimes will require outside help, but many phone systems can record this information for you. The first step the author has always found useful, contact the IT person; chances are good that they will know how to get a report or who to call for it. The information at times can be dissected down to department and even extension. By obtaining this information, you can determine how many people you need to man the phone at a certain. In generic terms, a BDC Consultant can make ten calls an hour effectively. Effectively being the keyword.
X. Develop a call flow chart
As much as anything, we need to determine how calls are currently routed and what routing will be necessary to make the process as customer friendly as possible. There are many phone systems available today, but it boils down to the automated or live operator. If it is automated, should all service calls go through the BDC initially and then be forwarded to an advisor, and if necessary, should there be two prompts for service: one for service and one for setting appointments? If you utilize a live operator, it becomes easy for them to ask what a customer’s specific need is without getting too involved and making the customer feel like they have to repeat themselves. A well-thought-out word track can be very effective to see that when the operator changes throughout the day the level of service doesn’t. Some consideration should be given to as many scenarios as you can think of: i.e., what if the advisor gets an appointment call? Should they handle it or transfer it to BDC? Even though that seems like a no-brainer, there are many cases where the customer will be transferred all over the dealership before their need is satisfied. Most have been on the other end of that call where you are just waiting for someone to take ownership of your situation and help you. If we know how frustrating it is, why do we then do that to our customers? Customer convenience and comfort level with the flow is the main barometer for an effective call flow.
XI. Develop Word Track
As with the operator, word tracks are the best way to ensure that the level of service does not change from one employee to the next. Although word tracks are talked about in the Sales Department all the time, we rarely talk about them in fixed ops, but the fact is we all word track. Many times, they are just things we have said so many times that they fall out of our mouths when we open them. The problem is many of these word tracks are not well thought out and rarely consistent with the person next to us doing the same thing. Needless to say, an effective BDC needs to have word tracks for every given situation. You may find it beneficial and time-sensitive to create your basic “Setting Appointment” word track first and then build the rest of the word tracks around that. After all, the objective of almost every call that a Service BDC will handle is to set an appointment. We have included a list of situations to consider as a thought starter you may need for additional word tracks in your store. The list includes:
- Incoming calls
- Status inquiries
- SOP inquiries
- Outgoing calls
- Appointment confirmation
- No-show appointment follow up
- SOP notification
- Recall notification
- Follow up on Lost Service Sales (unsold ASRs)
- Recapture of lost souls
From a complete Service Department Assessment to targeted Classroom Service Advisor Training options, I am here to assist you with all of your Fixed Operation improvement custom-tailored to your specific needs. For more information feel free to contact me anytime at (205) 329-3735 or firstname.lastname@example.org.