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Do you always get signed authorization for work to be performed?


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Running into an issue lately. Most of the work we do the customer drops off the car and we give them a call after. Generally we usually send them our findings via e-mail or text from our inspection report and then we discuss the recommended work. Customer authorizes over the phone, we do the work, they pick up. Done deal.

 

Normally we have no issues... normally I mean years I have never encountered a problem. Recently working with a knuckle head and he is claiming he didn't authorize some work to be done. He also never signed an estimate due to all correspondence through telephone. Also to keep in mind most of my tickets are $1000+ and I have not had any issues thus far. This is situation is causing me to rethink my procedures. Unfortunately having a customer authorize via signature can be difficult due to customers going to work, going away, living far enough distance from the shop etc. What have you done in your shop? Obviously there are state laws and such to consider as well...

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This is something that I noticed at the shop too cuz I was looking over the repair orders and noticed some didnt have signatures "because we know them", or "they are the mechanics down the street". I am wanting everything to have a signature because you just never know... im sure your situation happens a lot especially when they sometimes have to check in with their significant other and they get hassled for it, then it becomes a quick bout of amnesia on them giving you the verbal OK to do the work. Would an email confirming the "OK" work as an electronic "signature" ? Like even a text since everyone uses that now? And what if you have to add more to the work order because they ask for more... are they going to want to drive all the way down to the shop to sign it again?

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We don't always receive a signed authorization at drop off because we rarely print anything out. If they use our night drop the envelope has an authorization on it. We do document in our system all authorization by phone or email, who we spoke to and the amount authorized. That's one area I think the management systems lack and we use RO Writer. There should be a simple authorization piece utilizing a tablet for an electronic signature and a way to send and receive authorization by email if necessary. Our management system is behind the times when it comes to utilizing electronic capture of signatures at drop off and delivery. Those signatures are vital for collection of a bad check which we occasionally get, (3 in 5 years). I have recently started to dust off some of my coding skills to develop some simple electronic forms with signature capture tied to the repair orders.

 

Hopefully others will chime in with some viable solutions.

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We get a signature at drop-off on a boilerplate release form, but not on the estimate. Hasn't been a problem for us, but I can see that it could happen. One problem is that the scope of the job often changes and you are calling the customer to authorize additional work. Gonna get a signature every time?

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Just to add, I had this situation once where I had a verbal OK in person but no signature. The customer told me they didn't sign anything so they weren't paying and I said you didn't sign but you are on camera giving me authorization. It shut him up and he paid. I never went back to even have to pull the video.

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It would be a huge PIA to get a signature for everything, what you can do is just have a blanket statement on the paperwork saying they are agreeing to all repairs. I haven't ever seen a judge take money from a shop for work that was done correctly.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

It would be wise to consult with an attorney very familiar with our trade in your state.

 

They can offer both legal advise and assist you in social interaction to best get the job done. There average rates in MN are $200 so if it takes you 15 min to get an answer $30 to resolve your situation and have a professionally legally established method might be worth it.

 

My attorney has protected me, my business, my reputation and my money very well!

 

 

 

Sent from my SM-N900P using Tapatalk

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  • 4 weeks later...

Here is how I see your scenario TC. Personally, I think that when it comes to troublesome customers, we should learn to be more vigilant, but at the same time the rest of your customer base shouldn't suffer because of one bad apple. What I mean is you should not be so quick to change policies and procedures because of one knucklehead. Perhaps, you would be better off managing this particular customer differently should you continue to do business with them in the future, but think about your entire operation in general, and see if these changes will bring improvements, or if they will just cause additional inconvenience, and inefficiencies. Especially for the customer.

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First time customers absolutely have an estimate authorizing time spent to diag. I'm sure we all get the "diagnosis is FREE or not charged" if I fix the car question.

I document every phone call on the back of the RO, who called, time & date & gist of conversation with dollar amount authorized, that is sufficient in the eyes of the law if it was to go that far.

Dave

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I've considered getting signatures more recently due only because I've had a few customers take weeks to come pick up their vehicle after we're done. Ive never had a problem with work authorization or anything like that, just getting them to come get the dang car. I feel having them sign acknowledging there is a storage fee of $XX per day might discourage this behavior

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Mspec,

 

Just keep doing what you've always been doing, first of all. If this incident is representative of only one issue in 5 or more years, for instance, it doesn't make good sense to upset your apple cart with the rest of your customers.

 

However, I can share a simple, extra step we've taken with our customers that might help you out. Immediately before you pick up the phone to call and discuss your findings,create a text message (do not send it yet) that says:

 

"Hi Bob! The service we're recommending based on our conversation today will bring your total to $xxx. Please reply with your approval, so I can get this taken care of for you."

 

I have that text in a draft on my phone, and I just Copy/Paste it into a new text message, changing his first name, and the dollar amount. Takes about 5 seconds. I recommend sending it to all customers when the total is $xxx or above, whatever your comfort level is. Afterall....someone that says they didn't authorize the $12 gas cap....you're either going to eat it & fire the customer, or tell them to pound salt & pay you.

 

On your phone call, when they're giving you the approval, tell them that as soon as they hang up, they'll receive a text from you, and that they need to reply with "ok". For the customers that dont have a cell phone (??) I have an email prepared, just the same...

 

This has worked wonders for us, no one has complained or found the process cumbersome, and I eliminate the doh-doh heads. Just be sure to say, "As soon as you respond, we'll get to work on your vehicle." People appreciate the use of technology, and it's even uncovered folks who then later ask if we can communicate almost entirely by text when their car is with us. Win.

 

Hope this helps!

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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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