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2019-05-06 Tasks To Support Your Service

Tasks To Support Your Service

Let's Talk Shop for BHPH - Pt. 7

By Gene Daughtry, BHPH Consultant

 After setting up 4 dealerships and having involvement in a couple of dozen others I have learned to isolate tasks. When I have written processes, I broke things down into tasks and as the teams developed, I would assign tasks to the correct personnel depending on strengths, office setup, needs based on volume of sales or service. The more techs you have the more help the shop needs. The tasks get larger with more volume and of course that means fewer tasks per person.

     For me everything is about customer service first. We have to make a good profit and controlling expenses is integral to that of course. Some folks believe, in the shop, you put new inventory over handling customers you have already sold but I do not agree with that. You need both but when it comes down to prioritizing what comes first I will go with handling customers first. Our customers are fickle, stressed, disorganized and always about 2 seconds from freaking out. You give them much of a reason to go off and they will get loud, threaten to leave the car or “call their attorney”. Even though I ask them to give me their attorneys number so I can call them myself, we don’t need the issue blowing up if we can keep from it. Understanding what can happen and how is best to deal with it is where a process comes from.

Tasks Include:

Taking calls: Not sales calls but service issue calls. I want sales to handle sales. Someone has to field the calls and be empowered to offer solutions while on the phone. Simple as come in now and let’s scan the code to don’t move and call the wrecker number. In our closing process all customers are given the 24 hour number for our authorized towing service. It is added to their phone, they are given a card and it is in the glovebox with a document sleeve. Of course, most of the time, we know it by heart and give it out slowly. The customer calling the tow truck is best because they know where they are and trying to translate info never works.

Ordering wreckers: We are good friends with several tow truck drivers. Often the customer will say I couldn’t drive the car and I left it at home or its at my work. Then the next task is getting keys to the car and getting a wrecker to find the vehicle and pick it up.

Calling for parts: Depending on the volume and your trust of your people, this task can be handled by the techs or a manager over the shop operations. I have a “Service Advisor/Cashier” person that helps with this. All the shop calls and walk in traffic are answered by this person and then they make parts orders as needed. I have hired a specific parts person that ordered parts as their primary function but also filled in some of the other tasks like calling in warranty claims or dealing with tracking cores.

I know that Auto Zone will provide a larger volume dealership with a dedicated parts person to help get parts in and out (mostly Auto Zone of course) but these folks will primarily be onsite to help your operation be more efficient and will get parts wherever makes sense for the situation. 

Receiving: Here we have another important task that can be super busy and very important. When parts are ordered in my process they are ordered using the last 6 of the VIN as a PO. The part suppliers are told we don’t pay if no PO and so they won’t send the parts without attaching the PO number. Once a delivery arrives the person receiving can easily identify which technician is waiting for them and has an assigned place for the parts as they arrive. We don’t roll a car into a bay until all the parts have arrived to complete the repairs.

Dealing with returns: Core charges are expensive and add up fast. I have seen cores pile up in a shop and with a quick count can add up the dollars laying on the floor. Most part suppliers have processes themselves that address cores. The delivery drivers are looking for the returns and cores every stop. Have a process that helps the drivers easily find their returns and cores. Returns are those parts that were ordered or pulled wrong and need to be credited. If you do repairs and/or recon on 200 cars a month, handling parts is an expensive venture and will keep someone busy most days.

Input Repair Orders: We create a Repair Order for EVERY vehicle that comes to our shop. If we just scan a code and put on a gas cap, there is a Repair Order. If a customer comes in and refuses to let us do work, we make a Repair Order so there is a record of the visit and result in our system. All recon is put on Repair Orders so the system has a detailed record and the Repair Order can be printed for the customer if there is some issue that involves “no you didn’t” or “what did we do to that rig”?

     In my process we have an Estimate form used by everyone to build the jobs and make quotes. Once we have determined the issue and course of action then the Repair Order is created, usually in the evening or the morning when there is less activity. Because the technicians only get paid labor hours and from a report created in our system, the techs make sure Repair Orders are processed on time, along with the manager over them. Since the techs have a copy of their Estimate Sheets, they will call us out on hours that do not jive what they have. Because one of the managers has to authorize the jobs and purchase of parts, we can keep the labor hours and work in line.

Dealing with claims if you have a VSC or Reinsurance: In my operations we would either use a third party Service Contract or a Reinsurance program. In either case it would be a longer term (generally 24 months/24,000 mile) agreement that covered much more than powertrain. In either case that meant we needed to file a “claim” for the repair so the shop could get paid. The preference for one or the other positive/negative, or both, (third party vs reinsurance) will be next article. No matter there is a process to follow and someone has to do that task to insure data is stored, money is received and money is collected from a customer if applicable.

Follow up calls with customers: This is a task that involves customers. It has to be done correctly to control expectations and also to be sure the shop isn’t confused on what is expected from the customer. Often, we will hear the customers complaint but know their assessment of the situation isn’t correct and we determine a course of action ourselves. In most of my shops these calls were made by the managers but if we had a good Service Advisor/Cashier they would make the calls. The primary function here is make the call, translate the correct information and get reaction and payment arrangements handled, again not a task just anyone can do.

QC work: When dealing with customers, especially in service, you really should have a Quality Control person. It can be the manager depending again on volume and tasks. Someone needs to check the vehicle before it is released to a customer. Having to go get the car again right after it left or hearing about it 10 minutes after you released it is not good. It wastes time and causes customer relation issues not to mention some expense.

-Taking money: You have someone that takes money. Might be your collectors or you have a dedicated cashier. Taking money for service can be a task that any of these people can handle but there is a difference depending on your shop process and policies. We did defer service side notes. We also charged a deductible to help slow the customers from coming in for every frivolous little repair taking time when it wasn’t critical to the daily operation of the vehicle. The manager of the shop or who was assigned to reach out would need to explain to the customer any money they owed and try to get us paid. When the customer said “I cannot pay that” next would be to work out a deferred plan. When the customer arrived to pickup their vehicle the task is to make arrangements for the deferred payments and get the information signed for, in the DMS to be collected and take the deductible money.

Fetching vehicles (pickup/delivery to and from customers and vendors): In order to mitigate some customer irritation we often picked up cars at their work or home, brought them in to repair (scheduled appointments) and returned them in some cases. There were jobs that would be sent to vendors for work needed like alignments, exhaust, some computer flashing and others where someone physically needed to drive and retrieve. If everyone has a full day of tasks already this needs to be handled by a Porter or shop assistant.

Filing: It is possible to eliminate documents and not have files in todays world but I haven’t figured that out completely. So we file. Every document, part invoice and Repair Order we create for a vehicle are filed in the jacket for reference later. If you have every stood before a judge about a car deal you will be happier if you can layout a file of documents and show you keep records.

Reconciling parts purchases: For us this has always been a big task. When you spend $20K in parts a month or more you need to match all the tickets from returns, cores and incoming parts to the statement before it is paid. We have a system of control from who orders, receives and the manager reconciles.  

     Inventory control is a task and can become part of the shop function. Evaluation of repos and trades, prepping for transport to auction or salvage, possibly moving to inventory. Depending on volume this can be part of a buyers duties or have a specific person just handling in and out of inventory.

Gene Daughtry has almost 30 years of BHPH experience. He setup and operated 4 different dealerships, all with full service operations. Currently Gene represents Jilcat Proline and their super lubricant line of products, does training with Auto Master Systems, provides Service Consulting and capital help for dealers through

If you have several hundred to thousands of accounts and are running some type of service operation you have the tasks. I have always found isolating each task is best. Once you know what each specific task is they can be assigned and managed better. Let me know if I can help you 479-970-4049