Before the advent of computerized auto repair systems a preprinted form was used to check a vehicle in. This form would be attached to a clipboard and the repair requirements, estimated price and damage marks were recorded on it. Then the customer would sign the form acknowledging authorization of the repair estimate. With automated software systems in use many shops still use these forms for the initial check in process then enter the information into the computer system after the fact. As with any automated process in which information is put to paper then entered into the system this creates duplication of effort and leaves room for error. Following are key points on paperless vehicle check in:
- The Vehicle Identification Number – The VIN number for a vehicle is an important requirement in automotive repair. A correct VIN number supports purchasing parts for the right vehicle and determining the right labor time required as well as repair instructions. Handwriting a 17 character VIN then entering it into the computer is not only time consuming but also leaves room for error. A VIN barcode can be scanned with a barcode scanner or looked up by license plate using the Carfax license plate search feature.
- Defining Repair Requirements – Working by appointment and defining repair requirements before the vehicle arrives will expedite the vehicle check in process and eliminate the need for handwritten repair requirements. But for information gained when the customer is present dropping their car off entering it directly into the computer or a mobile device will eliminate paper and duplication of effort.
- Recording Damage Marks – Part of the vehicle check in process can involve identifying any dents or scratches on the vehicle and recording them. Paper vehicle check-in forms often contain an outline picture of a vehicle on which the service advisor would mark the damage points. With today’s smart phones and tablets pictures of a vehicle can easily be taken and stored for this purpose.
- Estimate Approval – More and more states are requiring signature approval of the initial estimate when a vehicle is brought in for service. Using paper this requires the shop to print the estimate, have the customer sign it and store the signed copy. The signature can be obtained digitally using a signature pad or on a mobile device with signature capture capability eliminating the need for the paper copies.