The points in the repair cycle at which customer interactions occur are often handled outside the shop management software system. These activities are often based on processes that were formulated years ago and are still handled that way. As software systems have evolved and grown to encompass these activities some shops keep the processes in place that operate outside the shop management system. Using the shop management system to perform these processes will have a significant impact on efficiencies and profits. Following are areas where customer interaction occurs in the automotive repair process:
- Appointments – Scheduling customer appointments is an activity that some shops will perform outside their shop management software. They’ll write the person’s name and appointment time on a paper calendar. Handling appointments this way limits visibility of work requirements. Scheduling appointments using software other than the shop management system will automate the process to a degree and may provide greater visibility to shop personnel but duplication of effort exists. Usually in situations in which appointments are scheduled outside the shop management system the repair process doesn’t begin until the customer arrives with their vehicle. This in itself fosters inefficiency. Planning facilitates performance. Shops that schedule appointments through their shop management system can identify the customer and vehicle while preparing for the needed repairs before the vehicle arrives. Activities such as work assignment and parts procurement can be performed in advance allowing for increased vehicle throughput. The shop that handles appointments outside their shop management system is automatically put into react mode as soon as the vehicle arrives.
- Vehicle Check In – The vehicle check in process for years was performed outside the shop management system. A clip board with a check in form was used to identify the customer, vehicle and work to be performed. Often the customer would sign the form authorizing an estimated dollar amount. Some shops still operate this way. The most obvious shortcoming of this method is duplication of effort. The information that is recorded on the check in form must then be transferred into the shop management system. Duplication of effort not only is wasteful it provides room for error. A good percentage of the time check in takes place at the counter and a computer is right there. When not done at the counter a mobile device can be used to enter the check in information directly into the shop management system. Finally the last step in the check in process is often obtaining a signature from the customer. Even when the check in process is handled through the software system often the estimate document is printed out for the customer to sign. A top tier shop management system will provide for digital signature authorizations allowing for the full check in process to be performed through the software. The shop that automates and streamlines the check in process will have a significant advantage over the shop that doesn’t.
- Quoting – Providing estimates of repair costs for customers will occur often in automotive repair. In some shops this process is performed off line. The cost of labor and parts are gathered and put to paper then communicated to the customer in an effort to obtain authorization to do the work. If authorization is given the information is entered into the computer – if not it’s often lost and will have to be rebuilt if the same quote is performed. Performing the quoting process within the shop management system is more efficient and allows quote information to be stored and retrieved in the future. Also, important performance information can be produced such as the quote capture rate (the percentage of quotes that turn into repair orders) for the shop and individual service advisors. The shop that performs the quoting process through the shop management system will perform better than the shop that doesn’t.
- Vehicle Delivery – Returning the vehicle to the customer is another part of the repair process that is often handled outside the shop management system. Frequently the final invoice is printed and staged with the keys ready to be reviewed with the customer. When the review is complete the customer signs the final invoice and the vehicle is turned over to them. This process can be performed through the shop management system and top tier systems will provide for digital capture of the customer signature.