Do You Have An “Appointment Process” That Works?

I have been involved in many stores that use the “Just bring them in” method.  In this environment Advisors live in chaos, Technicians become frustrated, parking lots become full, customers are not satisfied with the length of repairs, and it is very difficult to keep customers informed of status.

The evolution of the “Service Appointment” started out with a car count and a chain.  Once the service department hit their car count, the drive was chained off with a sign that said “Come back tomorrow.”  This is the first come, first served attitude that I still run into today.  Typically, the Advisors tell me they don’t understand why everyone wants to come in when we open.  When listening to them on the phone they say, “Bring it in tomorrow–we open at 7:00 am.”

The appointment process has several moving parts.  We have regularly scheduled maintenance, repair work that requires diagnoses, walk-ins, emergency repairs, tow-ins, carry overs, and additional service requests (ASR).

How do we bring organization to this process?  On maintenance work we can determine how long a service will take.  Here we can block out time for express or light maintenance and use car count for express service (oil changes, tire rotations, air filters, cabin filters, and wiper blades).

Repair work is more complicated because we don’t know what is wrong.  We can only give a time for diagnoses.  Advisors become very long winded when they run into this situation.  “I don’t know how long it will take until I figure out what is wrong with the vehicle”.  “It could be a couple of days to figure it out”.  “We need to check it out–it will be 100 bucks and I will call you this afternoon”.  Sound familiar?

Remember the client wants to know three things about their vehicle.  What we are going to do to correct their concern.  How much it will cost.  When will they get an update on status.

How do we know the capacity of the main shop?  Is it car count? Or do we determine how many flat rate hours (FRH) our Technicians can do each day?  Could we use this number to load the shop daily?  It is really the only logical way to do it.

If we know the FRH of each Technician, we can start to look at capacity by skill or group.  We can convert these hours into “Hours to Sell” for the Advisors or BDC.  To allow for walk-ins, emergency repairs, tow-ins, carry overs, and ASRs, we would start with loading the capacity to 60 to 70%.  If a group’s capacity is 30 FRH per day, our hours to sell at 60% would be 18 FRH.  At 70% it would be 21 FRH.  Advisors or BDC would be instructed to follow operation code times to fill the shop to capacity.  This is sometimes called an “Hour Bank.” As jobs are sold, we remove the hours from the bank.

There are software programs in our Dealer Management Systems that can be set up with “Hours to Sell.”  There are many software companies that can also be used.

Written by Joe Carroll

If you want help setting up an “Appointment Process” please contact me at:

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