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It All Starts With the Inspection

Autosphere » Mechanical » It All Starts With the Inspection
Étienne Bourgoin, owner, with advisor and minority shareholder Jonathan Chartier and the shop’s mascot, the lovable Bruno. Credit: Michel Beaunoyer

There is a saying in automotive maintenance that everything rests on the inspection. In 2024, with the complex vehicles we know, this saying is very relevant as the digital tablet is now part of service bays.

In Quebec, the workload of mechanical shops is largely influenced by tire seasons. The classic tire and oil change combo is a must for consumers who want to get two services done in one visit.

This practice compresses shop schedules and often reduces the time available for basic or seasonal inspections. Yet, as mentioned at the beginning of this text, inspection is the backbone.

Étienne Bourgoin, Owner of M Mécanique 360 in Sainte-Julie, agrees with the idea of building a shop schedule that favours structured inspections. “I must admit that at first, it required some customer filtering,” he explains. Several mechanical shop and tire centre managers agree that it is better to have less volume during peak periods but increase the average invoice by performing more rigorous inspections.

With an efficient digital platform, as demonstrated by Mr. Bourgoin, all the details of inspection reports, including images, are added to the customer’s file. Credit: Michel Beaunoyer

 

Tablet inspection

It has now been ten years since Mr. Bourgoin’s technical team started performing digital inspections with the tablets provided to them. “No one would go back to paper,” he says. “We have a well-established method. The digital inspection can be adjusted according to the seasons and the systems to be checked. What is particularly interesting is that we can document the results with photos and videos. It’s clear for the customer.”

A customer who entrusts their vehicle to this shop for maintenance will receive a health report of their vehicle. “And when we don’t send it to them, many ask for it,” notes the mechanic. This report presents a clear overview of the systems in good condition, followed by the work to be considered and then those that should be done immediately.

“We always start by showing the customer what is working well; we don’t want to discourage them with only bad news,” explains Mr. Bourgoin.

Dany Leblanc is a strong advocate of digital inspection, one of the elements that increases the average invoice. Credit: NAPA AUTOPRO Saint-Paulin

 

No surprises

While the customer analyzes all this, the technical advisor prepares the estimate immediately. Thus, when the customer gets back, by text, email, or phone, they will know right away what to expect financially. Since they have seen firsthand the condition of the parts recommended for maintenance or replacement, the discussion with the customer is short, saving time.

All inspection results can be integrated into the customer’s file, allowing a complete maintenance program to be built. Thus, the customer knows in advance what to expect during their next visit and can budget accordingly, even if few actually do.

According to Dany Leblanc, Trainer and Owner of the eponymous NAPA AUTOPRO shop in Saint-Paulin, this approach translates into additional sales and a higher average invoice. “Customers have a choice regarding inspections according to our packages,” he points out. “But even during a basic inspection performed during a simple oil change, a list of 30 to 35 points to check will be completed on the tablet by our technicians.”

By the way, this inspection is accompanied by more traditional road tests, before and after the work.

The fact that inspection results are digital, clear, and easy to share with customers results in a 75% sales rate. What is not done immediately or in the near future remains in the file and will trigger a reminder within a period determined by the mechanic. “We operate, all in all, like a dental office,” explains Mr. Leblanc.

For ten years now, M Mécanique 360 Sainte-Julie has been using digital tablets for inspections. Credit: Michel Beaunoyer

 

Electronic inspection

This shop also offers inspection of the vehicle’s electronic systems. “When we think specifically about electric or hybrid vehicles, visual inspection is a thing of the past,” says the expert. “The shop must rely on up-to-date analyzers, not only to find the source of problems but also to use them for preventive purposes.”

The ability for shops to access manufacturers’ recommendations also enhances the maintenance offering, but it also allows them to have better control over their schedule, outside of peak periods. Additionally, digital inspection related to parts needs allows them to be ordered at the right time and prepares the technical teams accordingly.

A good working method and structured inspections on digital tablets yield excellent results, explains the trainer. “This strategy results in increased sales. And then, I have twice as many customers as there are residents in my municipality of Saint-Paulin!”

As our mechanics pointed out, our independent shops today have access to the same information on the vehicles they maintain as the dealers. “The shop can find on the ALLDATA platform the mirror of what the service people at the dealer see,” explains Philippe Blouin, Business Solutions Consultant for this supplier. “They can easily access the preventive maintenance program recommended by the manufacturer and integrate it into the customer’s file, for example. In support of the inspection, the software will also present the repair processes, technical bulletins, parts, and hours required. This allows the technical advisor to prepare a complete estimate when the inspection report is submitted to the customer.”

Billy Thomas, Training Specialist for the Bumper to Bumper network, believes that digital inspection demonstrates a shop’s professionalism. Credit: Bumper to Bumper

 

Predicting the unseen

This specialist mentions that he sees more and more shops offering their customers electronic diagnostics of their vehicles. “By offering the analysis of electronic systems and modules, we prevent problems for the customer before they even manifest or a warning light comes on in the dashboard,” he says. “It’s inspection 2.0, so to speak, and it gives a very professional image to customers.”

This is a practice increasingly proposed by a growing number of shops in the Bumper to Bumper network. “An inspection at this level greatly contributes to the professional image of our shops,” explains Billy Thomas, Training Specialist for this network. “All digital inspections, with prioritized results and images or videos for clarity, meet or exceed customer expectations.”

For the shop, Mr. Thomas mentions, a well-executed inspection program reduces the number of jobs that could have been missed. “If the inspection is done rigorously, we easily see an increase of 20 to 30% in the average invoice,” he estimates. “And since it’s detailed and documented, the customer sees that we are transparent and honest.” According to him, there is nothing worse than a customer going elsewhere to repair a problem that was missed during their visit.

The NAPA AUTOPRO Garage A.D. Leblanc in Saint-Paulin has more customers than there are residents in the municipality. Credit: NAPA AUTOPRO Saint-Paulin
Categories : Editorial, Mechanical

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