We Don’t Have Time

joe-carroll-newsletterThey say “We don’t have time to confirm customers’ complaints!”

 During my travels around the country advisors tell me they do not have time to confirm customers’ complaints. “I just don’t have time,” they say.  Let’s take a look at one case I observed. 

 A customer in a new car pulls up to the service department.  He gets out of his car and walks up to the service advisor and states his dash lights do not work.  The advisor asks the customer if he has an appointment and the customer responds, “No, do I need one?  I just purchased this car from you a week ago.”  The advisor acts quickly and says,  “No, you don’t need an appointment.  Will you be able to leave it with me?”  The customer says, “Yes, as long as I get a loaner.”  The advisor pulls up the customer’s information in the DMS and starts to open a repair order.  “Mr. Customer, the dash lights don’t work–is that correct?”  The customer confirms the complaint.  The advisor asks for the keys, runs out to throw a job tag in it, and collects the miles. 

 The advisor asks the customer to wait while they check on a loaner car.  The advisor leaves the office and returns 10 minutes later with rental car keys and a contract.  He asks the customer for his driver’s license and proof of insurance.  They fill out the paperwork and complete the repair order.  The advisor explains to the customer that they are really busy but they would try to get it looked at today but most likely it would be tomorrow.  The customer signs the paperwork and leaves 25 minutes later with a loaner. 

 I begin following the car and paperwork.  The car is parked on the back lot and the paperwork sits on the advisor’s desk for the next 3 hours.  After lunch the advisor gives the repair order to the technician and says, “I know you are busy but try to get this looked at today.” The technician says, “Great, another warranty job. Yeah, I’ll try.”

 The repair order sits on the technician’s tool box the rest of the day.  The customer calls in to check status.  The advisor places the customer on hold and walks back to the shop to check with the technician assigned to the job.  The technician is out on a test drive so the advisor returns to the office and tells the customer he will need to call him back with an update. The five o’clock rush begins and the customer never gets a return call. 

 Returning in the morning I check on the repair order still sitting at the bottom of the stack of repair orders on the technician’s box.  The advisor carries the car over on their route sheet and tells the technician when he comes in that the customer has now called in two times checking on his car and he is mad.  He tells him to please check it out first thing so he can call and update the customer on the status. 

 The technician does what he is told. He gets the repair order and goes to the car, pulls it in, and determines the dash lights are working.  He goes to the advisor informing him the lights are working as designed.  The advisor states, “The customer is mad because we didn’t get the vehicle looked at yesterday.  Get with the manager and find out what he wants to do.  This is a brand new car and it needs to be right for the customer.”  So the technician locates the manager and they go for a test drive.  All the dash lights are working as designed.

 The advisor calls the customer and explains that they had a technician and service manager look at the car and the dash lights are working correctly.  The advisor completes the paperwork and the customer picks the vehicle up.

 The next morning the customer is right back on the drive complaining the dash lights do not work.  I can’t stand it any longer and begin to assist the advisor.  I ask the customer to walk out to the vehicle and show us his complaint.  We walk out and he says, “Every morning when my car is parked in the garage and I start the car I cannot read the radio or anything else on the dash.”  We place a piece of paper on the light sensor on the dash and the dash lights go out.  “Is this what is happening in the morning?” we ask.  “Yes, that is exactly what the car is doing,” he replies.  We turn the rheostat on the dash lights all the way up.  “Is that better?” we ask.  The customer replies, “Yes, that will work.”  We thank the customer for his business and apologize for his return.


Yes, we don’t have time…

 A strong write-up process always includes verifying customer concerns.  If we had asked the customer to verify his complaint during the initial write-up we would have saved 1.6 total man hours of clock time.

 This is the cost of a lack of process in productivity/efficiency if this happens to one technician once a day in a ten-technician shop with an Efficiency of 110%, effective labor rate of $85.00, and a Gross Profit of 71.5%.


The advisor is right and the manager is at fault because they do not have a solid write-up process.  We must make time to install processes, to save time and produce more labor time.

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