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Is Your Express Department Hitting The “BIG 3”?

To me, without a doubt, Express Service is one of the most important parts of our business. Typically, Express Service is responsible for at least 50% of our daily service transactions. It’s also a place where most guests have their first experience with our Service Department.

Through the years, many changes have been made to improve Express Service. But is it improving? What are we measuring? To me, it boils down to three things: Quality, Time, and Sales.


How much should an oil change cost? This question reminds me of the saying, “A job is worthless unless it’s done correctly.” Make no mistake, no matter how good your advisors are, how fast your shop is, and how cheap your prices are, poor quality will erase everything else.

What is our process? Here’s a test. Talk to each of your Express Technicians (individually) and have them explain their process to complete an oil change. Do they do it the same way? Do some do more than others? Next, ask your Advisors if there is a difference between a Multi-Point Inspection performed by an Express Technician vs. a Main Shop Technician. Do the Advisors see a difference? Then ask the Advisors if they have ever received a recommendation for work from Express, then sent it to a Main Shop Technician for a second opinion.

Express Technicians are usually our newest and least experienced. These inexperienced technicians handle more transactions than any other technician in our shop. Think about the training we give them, or in most cases, they give each other. Training on a specific process, just like McDonald’s, is a great way to help improve our consistency and quality.


How long will it take to change my oil? This is the most asked question in your Service Department. If you ask your Advisors, they will agree. Most Advisors answer this question with a WAG (wild guess).

So, before we answer the question, let’s look at which parts of the process we can control.

  • Write up
    • Are our Advisors efficient?
    • Are they processing guests or performing a proper write-up?

      Believe it or not, it is recommended to spend MORE time in this area. Skipped steps, in the beginning, could cost us time later.
  • Parking/Moving the Vehicles
    • Do we have a parking/key process?
    • Are the spots close to the shop?

      The best-case scenario is to drive the vehicle straight into the bay, just like the independent quick lubes use. Consider how much time Express Techs spend moving cars; is this the best use of their time?
  • Parts
    • Do we have parts in the shop?
    • What if we sell additional items?

      If the average Technician spends six minutes per Repair Order per day in parts and works on ten cars a day, that’s an hour a day wasted waiting on parts. Putting parts in the shop is a great way to help speed up production.
  • Bay Time
    • Do we have a process?

      A well-executed consistent process will cut down on the amount of time it takes to do the job.
  • Car Wash
    • Do we wash cars?

      Let’s go back to parking. Why not wash the car first, instead of leaving it in the parking lot? This is an easy way to cut down on our times.
  • Invoicing
    • When do we invoice the cars?

      Why wait until the vehicle is done? Can’t we invoice it once the inspection is reviewed?


This by far is the most underutilized part of the Express Department. We are constantly chasing Hours per RO and Effective Rate, yet many managers exclude Express when reporting these numbers. Why would we exclude Express? That would be like F and I reporting their income per copy excluding new or used cars. I don’t think that would be accepted.

The Express Department is a high-speed, high transaction department. Every transaction has an opportunity. Whether it’s reviewing a green multipoint inspection, advising the guest of future needs, or selling additional work, Express transactions are critical to the bottom line of a Service Department. If we just process guests, your Express Department is just an expense. Maximizing every transaction makes Express a profit center. If you don’t believe me, look how many Oil Change centers are in your area. They wouldn’t be in business if they weren’t making money.

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