But I Had An Appointment!

Jim Welch NewsletterWe’ve all heard this before. It’s 8:00 o’clock Monday morning, and the morning rush is in full force. Your service advisors are writing repair orders just as fast as they can, going from one customer to the next with determination. It’s now 8:45 and one of your customers is upset because he or she had an appointment for their vehicle with a “Check Engine Light” concern, however, their car hasn’t moved since they got there. They’ve been patiently sitting around the customer lounge waiting for the service advisor to report back on the needed repairs.

They return to the write-up area looking for their service advisor to express their displeasure. I made an appointment for 8:00 o’clock, now its 8:45 and you haven’t even moved my car. Sound familiar?  How often does this happen in your store? Let’s take a look at just some of the ways we may have been able to avoid this situation. After all, we can’t afford to lose a customer, not to mention the all-important CSI report card.

  Write-Up Process

  • Analyze your service drive traffic patterns. What days during the week do you have a lot of customers who show up with no appointment?  
  • Scheduled “Write-Up Time.” One that allows enough time between customers. 15 – 20 minutes will allow the service advisors to give the customer the attention they deserve.
  • No double booking of “Write-Up” times. Allow only one per service advisor for the allotted time. How can we wait on more than one person at a time?
  • Scheduled “Write-Up” times. Whoever schedules the write-up time should be scheduling throughout the day. Too many times I’ve heard service advisors say, “Write them in the morning and repair them in the afternoon”. This also drives the technicians and parts counter people crazy. How will they get anything done if they’re getting estimates all morning, and then expected to get all of it done by 5:00 pm?
  • Shop capacity. All too often we make appointments without knowing whether or not we have a technician available at the customers scheduled time to perform the work.
  • Alternate transportation.  Do you offer a shuttle ride when scheduling the “Write-Up” time. Many times your customer may be able to leave their vehicle if they can be taken home or to work if they know you could drop them off and pick them up. Do you offer loaners or rental cars?
  • Pre-Write process. Most DMS systems allow for a pre-write repair order. Being prepared will give the service advisor enough time to spend with the customer and keep track of their existing customers.
  • Staffing requirements. Ensure you enough porters to clear the drive and park the vehicles in designated areas designed for waiters.
  • Night Drop/Early Bird. Do your customers know they can drop their vehicle off on their way to or from work? Make sure it’s placed in a well-lit area and is stocked with envelopes and a pen.

In closing, there will always be customers that will want to schedule an appointment to have their vehicle serviced or repaired while they wait. I don’t see this ever changing, but have we done everything possible to prevent this from happening or at least shorten the wait time for the customer’s convenience?  No service advisor or manager wants to hear, “But I had an appointment at a scheduled time” come from an unhappy customer.  Those types of situations show that there may need to be improvements made in your process of scheduling appointments or even the time managed by your service advisor. Meet with your staff on a regular basis to review your process and keep in mind that change rarely happens overnight and this will need to be discussed quite often to ensure we Exceed our customer expectations.

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