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One of the hardest procedures to implement was encouraging my service advisors to schedule each customer's next service at checkout. They all feared it would seem too pushy. As a matter of fact, they all felt it might actually backfire and cause our customers to use our services LESS often.

 

I persisted, and kept on them about it, until everyone was on the same page. It took about 2 1/2 months to develop, but about that time, an incredible thing began to happen, and we all felt it. Our appointments increased by nearly 20% and better than that, the practice increased our maintenance mix.

 

So as impractical as it might seem, regardless of what kind of service or condition someopne has their vehicle in for, scheduling their next appointment for 2, 3, or even 6 months later is a practicve that once implemented, you'll wonder why you didn't start sooner.

 

Oil change? Schedule their reminder for 3, 4, or 5 months from now based on their preference.

Front brake job? Schedule a complimentary brake inspection 2 months out to make sure their parts are breaking in well, and to get in front of any potential parts/labor warranty service. (Of course, you could reexamine the rear brakes, too...)

Misc. breakdown? How many miles is on the car? Schedule a reminder about upcoming scheduled maintenance service.

 

Of course, anything mentioned on their current inspection report should be followed up on as a part of your recommended service (Or Recserv) program, but anything they don't ask you do complete can be revisited when they come back in for their next scheduled visit.

 

Just one man's opinion.

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One of the hardest procedures to implement was encouraging my service advisors to schedule each customer's next service at checkout. They all feared it would seem too pushy. As a matter of fact, they all felt it might actually backfire and cause our customers to use our services LESS often.

 

I persisted, and kept on them about it, until everyone was on the same page. It took about 2 1/2 months to develop, but about that time, an incredible thing began to happen, and we all felt it. Our appointments increased by nearly 20% and better than that, the practice increased our maintenance mix.

 

So as impractical as it might seem, regardless of what kind of service or condition someopne has their vehicle in for, scheduling their next appointment for 2, 3, or even 6 months later is a practicve that once implemented, you'll wonder why you didn't start sooner.

 

Oil change? Schedule their reminder for 3, 4, or 5 months from now based on their preference.

Front brake job? Schedule a complimentary brake inspection 2 months out to make sure their parts are breaking in well, and to get in front of any potential parts/labor warranty service. (Of course, you could reexamine the rear brakes, too...)

Misc. breakdown? How many miles is on the car? Schedule a reminder about upcoming scheduled maintenance service.

 

Of course, anything mentioned on their current inspection report should be followed up on as a part of your recommended service (Or Recserv) program, but anything they don't ask you do complete can be revisited when they come back in for their next scheduled visit.

 

Just one man's opinion.

I am so glad you gave examples, now I just need to learn this part of my software, and APPLY IT! It does take courage and confidence, but sometimes the customer will appreciate the reminder because vehicle maint. is the LAST thing on their minds.

Thanks for the tip!

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Great Tip

I like this and have talked to several others that are doing this. I always tell my guys we need to be doing a better job on the deliveries as we should always be selling the next job. They do a great job of informing the customer of future needs but we need to take the next step and schedule it. We tell them what the future need is and that we will do it at the next oil change but we don't take the step of actually scheduling it. We use the Scheduler in ROwriter and Demand Force to send our appointment reminders by text, email or postcard so we can go out several months in advance very easily. We normally keep a pretty full schedule year round.

 

As another note. When I do the sales projections for the year, I don't make adjustments for seasonality. I look at the total work days in the month and we have a goal for the month based upon available days. We have a daily goal that is tracked every day and we know we are going to strike out some days and maybe even several days in a row. They just know they have to make up the amount. Usually they knock it out of the park in the summer and will get ahead for the upcoming months or catch up from a bad previous month. An example would be that we didn't hit our target for the 1st quarter because we had a terrible Feb which caused them to miss the qtr and the qtr profit sharing. The hit the 2nd qtr and just about made up for their deficit from the 1st qtr.

I have found that when we can make all kinds of excuses for lack of sales (i.e. Rodeo is in Town, It's Fiesta, Spurs are in the playoffs, weather and blah blah blah). I don't care what the weather is or what's in town we have to hit our numbers. We just might be able to avoid some of those bad months if we can fill our calendar in advance.

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I use DemandForce to remind my customers. In my RO software I list the recommended service, if the customer declines, I just mark it as declined, then it's pushed to DemandForce to remind the customer via email at a later date. usually a month out. In my case, it's important to stay on top of my ppl telling them to capture email addresses.

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Great tip, and one we have struggled to follow. Our MS! consultant helped to point this out. We have been solely a transmission repair shop since 1993. Last year we hired new techs and branched out into general automotive repair.

 

We stressed noting recommended repairs and scheduling customers at a later date, but we did not focus on the inspection itself. While trying to educate our lead tech on this he commented that inspections for the sake of additional sales is pushy and unethical. Customers will call us if they need something done.

 

Sadly, I've seen this same thing happen at several friends shops. How do you educate and motivate your team to do the complete inspection and want to do them?

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Sadly, I've seen this same thing happen at several friends shops. How do you educate and motivate your team to do the complete inspection and want to do them?

 

The way I explain it to my techs is as follows:

 

"Gentleman, to the great majority of our customers their cars is just a tool for transportation, they are not really car enthusiasts. They don't want to become mechanics to operate their cars, they come to us for our professional opinion as to what their car needs to keep it in top shape. So, it is very important for you to inspect every car that comes into your hands thoroughly noting its condition just as if your wife and children would be riding on it." Then explain to them to note anything remarkable as either Acceptable, marginal or defective in need of immediate replacement...

 

Make it a mantra and sing it to them every chance you get and watch the magic happen.

Edited by HarrytheCarGeek
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As shop owners, we all know that the result of an honest, thorough inspection is the opportunity to offer additional service to our customers. This of course, in turn, gives us the opportunity to shine, and potentially win a valuable lifelong customer that our competitors would be hard-pressed to figure out how to steal from us.

 

A carefully mapped out process, beginning with the initial contact, and leading up to the moment where we have the privilege of driving or standing under our guests' cars will ultimately lead us to the matter of inspections.

 

I think we're all plagued by the frustration we feel when we find ourselves having to remind our technicians that without a good, solid inspection, we have less opportunity to offer additional services to them. Without the inspection, NO ONE wins - not the company, not the technician, and certainly not the customers.

 

In & around our office, we refer to the inspection as our "Patient history", just like a doctor would. We put a shelf life on the inspection of about 90 days, and consider it active & valid unless the customer brings us a primary concern otherwise, in the meantime. SInce all our paperwork is scanned immediately and the customer is given the original copy with their invoice, we have the simple pleasure of being able to key in the invoice number of their last inspection, (Especially if it's been within 90 days) and print a copy to attach to our tech's job ticket.

 

Better than that, if oustomer gets their oil changed with us, the inspection is included free. Since we perform a visual brake inspection on every vehicle brought in, we'll have that data at our fingertips also. So at our counter before the oil change is finished, our customer is informed that the stabilzer control link on the driver's side is broken. If they are uninterested in hearing anymore about it, it's recorded in the software under recommendations, and appears not only on the inspection form as a "Required Repair", but also prints on their final invoice, which is highlighted before we hand it to them.

 

Six weeks later they call & ask if they can "stop by", because their car is making a strange rattle noise when they go over bumps in the road. All we have to do is key in their previous invoice number, and we're immediately reminded of the previous recommendations. If something sounds as though it may be congruent with their now current concern, we'll remind them immediately about the stab links, and of course, schedule it for a free "quick peek". In the meantime, and as a preemptive measure, the stab links are ordered & put on our shelf.

 

When they arrive, our tech spends 5 minutes looking it over while the service advisor is going over ALL previous recommendations, & offering estimates for the service. If we can confirm the cause, the work is sold.

 

I guess my point is simple: The best way I've found to encourage our techs to respect the inspection process is to consistently remind them about the process, & continue to prove to them that it works not only "on the spot", but days, weeks, or even months later. We also have a nominal spiff/bonus program that encourages technicians to be thorough, bu not so aggressive that we've had any issues with them "over suggesting" service.

 

In the end, having a current patient history is in everyone's best interest. It keeps techs busier, everyone gets to make a little more money, and of course, our customers know that the process is intended ONLY to keep them informed, not to sell them service they don't feel they need, or to pressure them into maintenance with any sort of "crash & burn" approach.

 

Just one man's opinion.

Edited by stowintegrity
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Thanks for the great discussion. I've enjoyed reading all of the comments here.

 

As a best practice, we encourage shops to book the next appointment. It's really not much different than booking haircut and dentist appointments in advance. It saves customers from having to worry about remembering to do it and helps shops do more business.

 

I agree with Joe that in order to be successful, your shop should consider some type of appointment reminder. Text message appointment reminders are one of the features available with our software. Service advisors can set a default number of days to send a text message appointment reminder. Customers can respond back with "c" to confirm the appointment or can call the shop to reschedule.

 

Stowintegrity, it's great to hear that your appointments increased with advance scheduling! I also agree with your later post about the importance of vehicle inspections. We encourage shops to take vehicle condition photos to go along with detailed inspections. What better way to sell services than to show your customers what repairs are needed! We have seen shops dramatically increase their ARO in some cases by 200 percent or more as compared to the shop's ARO prior to doing inspections. One of our shops had a $53 ARO before inspections and now has a $377 ARO since starting inspections. Another shop took its ARO from $104 to $574 with vehicle inspections.

 

These are just a few examples. I'd be happy to speak to anyone who has an interest or who has further questions. Please feel free to reach out to me.

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  • 4 years later...
On 7/9/2015 at 1:20 PM, Jordan Spain-Honaker said:

Great tip, and one we have struggled to follow. Our MS! consultant helped to point this out. We have been solely a transmission repair shop since 1993. Last year we hired new techs and branched out into general automotive repair.

 

We stressed noting recommended repairs and scheduling customers at a later date, but we did not focus on the inspection itself. While trying to educate our lead tech on this he commented that inspections for the sake of additional sales is pushy and unethical. Customers will call us if they need something done.

 

Sadly, I've seen this same thing happen at several friends shops. How do you educate and motivate your team to do the complete inspection and want to do them?

I know this is an old post, but I show my techs news articles of mechanics that went to jail for negligent homicide for missing safety items on inspection that ended up killing someone.

I know this was a state inspection mechanic performing a state safety check, but it tends to get the point across, and it makes them think about what could happen to the customer.

https://www.mynbc5.com/article/licensed-car-mechanic-charged-with-manslaughter-in-customer-s-death/3324536

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

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      It always amazes me when I hear about a technician who quits one repair shop to go work at another shop for less money. I know you have heard of this too, and you’ve probably asked yourself, “Can this be true? And Why?” The answer rests within the culture of the company. More specifically, the boss, manager, or a toxic work environment literally pushed the technician out the door.
      While money and benefits tend to attract people to a company, it won’t keep them there. When a technician begins to look over the fence for greener grass, that is usually a sign that something is wrong within the workplace. It also means that his or her heart is probably already gone. If the issue is not resolved, no amount of money will keep that technician for the long term. The heart is always the first to leave. The last thing that leaves is the technician’s toolbox.
      Shop owners: Focus more on employee retention than acquisition. This is not to say that you should not be constantly recruiting. You should. What it does means is that once you hire someone, your job isn’t over, that’s when it begins. Get to know your technicians. Build strong relationships. Have frequent one-on-ones. Engage in meaningful conversation. Find what truly motivates your technicians. You may be surprised that while money is a motivator, it’s usually not the prime motivator.
      One last thing; the cost of technician turnover can be financially devastating. It also affects shop morale. Do all you can to create a workplace where technicians feel they are respected, recognized, and know that their work contributes to the overall success of the company. This will lead to improved morale and team spirit. Remember, when you see a technician’s toolbox rolling out of the bay on its way to another shop, the heart was most likely gone long before that.
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