How a digital inspection process benefits both the shop and the customer.
Today, there are plenty of online statistics that indicate between 68-80% of vehicles on the road need of some kind of maintenance to ensure they continue to operate safely.
In fact, studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the U.S., show that about 44,000 vehicle collisions (annually) were the result of poor vehicle maintenance. The leading cause were tire related issues followed by brake and suspension problems. These are all aspects of a vehicle that should be inspected every time a customer visits your shop.
A variety of outside factors
As to why the maintenance wasn’t performed, the reasons cited among motorists include not enough time, the cost of performing the work, and the inconvenience required to get it done. These are all factors that a shop has very little control over.
Drivers also listed a lack of trust and not understanding why the services needed to be done as other key influencers. Both of these are significant barriers that service providers need to overcome.
With that in mind, let’s take a look and see how this can be achieved.
Trust is a major challenge in our industry. In fact, according to AAA in the U.S., a survey demonstrated that two out of three respondents stated that they did not trust automotive service centres. Interestingly enough, that same survey showed that 64% of U.S. drivers have found a repair shop that they do, in fact, trust. Studies like this demonstrate that although it might appear challenging, it clearly is possible for shops to change customer perception as it relates to their business.
A key part of creating that trust however, comes down to honesty and transparency in the way a service centre conducts business.
Honesty starts with your employees, in how they do their jobs and communicate their findings to the customer. This takes time and, in many situations, that time is limited. Here is where transparency becomes part of the process. Transparency allows a customer to see for themselves what information has been shared, which strengthens confidence in the shop and its employees.
And transparency is exactly what tools like digital inspections can provide. A digital vehicle inspection, through the use of clear descriptions, recommendations, and pictures allows the customer to clearly see what their vehicle needs, and why it needs it.
A clearer picture
Technicians can use a digital inspection to not only document the condition of a vehicle, but also record their findings through a colour-coded series of categories to determine which aspects of the vehicle are ok and which need attention.
When it comes to the colours, green means ok, yellow is recommended maintenance or repair; while red means the issue is safety related and needs immediate attention.
Furthering the transparency of the digital inspection, is the ability for the technician to note what they found in language that the customer understands. The tech is also available to convey an equally clear recommendation of how to address the particular item or issue with the vehicle.
Because the images the technician takes not only show the aspect of the vehicle that needs attention, but also enable them to pinpoint the issue with their finger, they can immediately draw the customer’s attention to the problem. As a result, the customer can clearly see the “why” of what is recommended. And for many motorists, seeing is believing.
Digital inspections provide customers with a visual and balanced perspective of their vehicle’s current condition by showing them the good, the bad, and the ugly. This differs from typical printed inspections which tend to highlight only what is wrong with the vehicle.
Furthermore, digital inspections also offer another benefit in that they show a “wear history” of the vehicle. During each service visit, items are checked and documented so when maintenance is needed, the customer already knows in advance. By removing the element of surprise, it not only allows the customer to plan and budget for upcoming maintenance, but also demonstrates that the service centre and its staff are serving their best interests.
In the second part of this article, we will discuss how digital inspections can educate your customers into buying more service from you.
John ‘JB’ Burkhauser is an Auto Repair Specialist with over 35 years of experience—with expertise ranging from A Level & ASE Certified Master Tech, Shop Advisor/Manager, to Automotive Trade School Instructor, and Technical Writer. He is a highly sought-after industry thought leader who has been published in both the U.S. and Europe. JB currently serves as Director of Education at Bolt On Technology, the leading provider of automotive repair aftermarket with award-winning technology tools to improve customer communication.