When many of you first went into business, you were the only employee.
As we all know, the minute you add a second person to a conversation, the chance for a misunderstanding exactly doubles. Add a customer to the equation, and the odds of a misunderstanding seem to go up exponentially.
Customers’ concerns are not collected accurately, or they are not passed on to the technician accurately. The technician does not write down enough of an explanation of the diagnosis or work performed. Service advisors do not ask customers enough questions for the technicians, and technicians do not provide a comprehensive list of parts required for the job. Vehicles are not completed on time, invoices are more than the estimate, and vehicles are not repaired correctly the first time. As well, team members circumvent written or digital systems and fall back on verbal communication to provide what they think is saving time.
Verbal communication is subject to memory, interpretation, and emotion. The list of things that can go wrong in a shop is caused by some form of a breakdown in communication. The consequences range from broken relationships to lost customers, lost time and lost money. On top of that, the shop owner is busy putting out all these fires and does not have time to actually run the business.
The solution is to manage expectations, stop assumptions, clarify statements, qualify your customers, and ensure that written or digital communication is primary and verbal is secondary.
Put the customer at ease
Communicate with your customers that their appointment is with the service advisor for consultation and not with the technician. Assure the customer that their vehicle will go into surgery as soon as the first doctor is available.
Use the time of day when stating when a vehicle will be ready. “Your vehicle will be ready for pickup at 4:00 this afternoon. I will be calling you to confirm that time.” Too many service advisors tell the customer that the vehicle will be completed in the time given in the labour guide for the technician. This does not allow for the time it takes for a test drive and to finish up the invoice.
Identify what the client’s primary concern is, and then ask if they have any other concerns. By asking for other concerns you avoid the “Oh by the way, can you get these extra things done?” question as they walk out the door.
The 5C Concept
Use the 5C concept: Concern, Cause, Correction, Completion, and Confirmation. Track and document this in all software and paperwork throughout the day.
Technicians should always make a complete list of the parts they require to get the job completed prior to the estimate being completed. That way they are not requesting additional parts halfway through the repair.
Technicians should always note any conditions that may change the time required to do the job such as rust, dirt, or some type of non-standard modification, prior to the advisor creating the estimate.
All these seemingly small steps solve big problems; the challenge is being disciplined in the small steps.