Service Route Sheets – Old School or New School?

george goldberg newsletter I can remember back in the day (mid 80’s) when I started working in Dealership Service Departments, we used a hand-written Route Sheet on a legal pad to track RO flow in the shop. That being said, I also remember having to play catch-up at the end of the day filling in the columns as to whether or not a vehicle was completed, staying over, car down, etc. This was done at times after the vehicle was already gone.

Although primitive as compared to the modern manual Route Sheet and electronic Route Sheets used today it served its purpose (as did hand-written RO’s that I was also using at the time).

We then progressed to a pre-printed Route Sheet pad with all the necessary columns that we are used to today, customer name, vehicle info, drop-off time, contact number, etc.

Some years later the electronic Route Sheet was introduced and could be used with most DMS systems today. There are some electronic Route Sheets that are so advanced that you can actually track the time to the minute of the vehicle’s progression through the system. Most Advisors and Service Managers today have used both versions of the Route Sheet, but which one is the one for you?

Manual Route Sheet:


  • Ease of use
  • The visual aspect is one of the great advantages of a manual Route Sheet. It’s always right in front of everyone and can be viewed more frequently and is easily updated versus switching from screen to screen to view and monitoring an electronic Route Sheet
  • A great way for a Service Manager to Implement an RO tracking process with very little training and is very easily adapted to by Service Advisors
  • Can be easily read by the cashier or receptionist if needed as well
  • Can be corrected or changed at will with the stroke of a pen (and some white-out)
  • Sheet can be filed after use to use as a reference later if needed
  • Can also be used as a scheduling form at the same time
  • Group Leaders in a lateral support situation can also benefit from using it to track RO flow for his group
  • Visual list of carry-overs and related hours associated with them


  • Someone has to be tasked to keep it updated constantly
  • Forgetting to list the vehicle on the sheet during busy times in the drive
  • Logging the wrong RO or Tech or customer info on the Route Sheet
  • Forgetting to list carry-overs causing an overload of the shop

Electronic Route Sheet (Used in most cases with Electronic Dispatch):


  • RO is automatically assigned to the system once created
  • RO is assigned to the Tech electronically
  • RO can be tracked relatively easily as to its status
    • Is it being worked on yet?
    • Is the customer waiting? What’s the promise time?
    • When the RO was created
    • What Tech is working on it
    • How long it has been in the shop
    • Waiting for parts pricing
    • Waiting for authorization
    • On hold for s/o part
  • Will show a status of an RO to whomever looks at the dispatch screen
  • Will continue to compile RO’s day-to-day as they are added
  • Good visual tool for Management to monitor older RO’s


  • Can be easily manipulated by Techs when using electronic dispatch to assign themselves to a particular RO (if electronic dispatching is being used)
  • Must be closely monitored to ensure fair dispatching, getting the right Tech the right job
  • In some cases must be refreshed in the DMS by going in and out of it for a true update
  • Advisors not monitoring it or using it to their advantage thinking the system will do it for them
  • Not using it as a tool to update customers

So…Now the question is what’s going to work the best for me? The answer to that is there is no correct or incorrect answer. Each situation obviously will be different:

  • Cost
  • Size of the store
  • Current dispatch procedures
  • Training involved for sustainment whether it be a manual or electronic Route Sheet

Not every situation will be the same. The truth is (depending on your particular situation) they are both very effective if used properly and monitored. A Route Sheet, regardless of type, is very effective and in my mind, a must for any Service Department.


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