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Joe Marconi

How a sloppy shop leads to increased comebacks, low profits and a decrease in customer satisfaction

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Legendary College basketball coach John Wooden, would always preach to his players that it’s the details of the game that matters most. That worrying about the score was futile if the execution and the details of the game were not performed with consistency and to the best of everyone’s abilities. In other words, the score will take care of itself and the wins will come if every detail of the game is consistently executed properly.


In the shop environment, only worrying about getting the car done, without performing all the steps properly will lead to an eventual breakdown in your workflow system. It will lead to higher comebacks, lower profits and poor customer satisfaction.


To have a properly working workflow system, that minimizes comebacks, improves overall quality and improves customer satisfaction, requires paying attention to the details of the workflow process in a consistent manner.


Is the customer write up process done properly each time? Are the technicians following the workflow process and every checklist done properly every time? Are the technicians short-cutting the process in an attempt to book hours? And, perhaps the main killer of the shop environment and workflow: a sloppy shop.


Yes, a sloppy shop leads to a breakdown in the system. Disorder in the shop equals disorder in the workflow, which equals increased comebacks, increased chances of people getting hurt, unhappy customers and lower profits. Time is wasted finding tools and equipment. People tend not to care enough about the condition of the customer’s car because the shop does not put an emphasis on neatness and order in the shop. Cars will leave with grease marks, dirty floor mats and job details forgotten.


The first step in any process is the shop environment and that means shop organization. You cannot have an efficient workflow until you have shop order. Everyone must be held accountable for keeping order. And it starts with the tech’s work space.


Want to improve production, profits and customer satisfaction? Pay attention to the details, focus on quality, create a well-defined workflow process and maintain order in the shop.

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    • Article: Mr. Details - - - When ya got all the facts...that's a fact...

      Mr. Details
      Spend enough time at a repair shop, working on cars, answering questions for the customers and sooner or later you’ll find yourself with a Mr. Details at your counter. Your typical “A” type customer (that’s “A” for anal) who arrives with all the facts and figures regarding his problem gathered up from under the nearest rock or website. He’s the over bearing, overly concerned, and downright meticulous type of client that shows up with an entire portfolio of documents about his car. He’s tracked every single repair that has ever been done to his car right down to the exact date and time the dome light bulb burned out and when it was replaced.

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      After making it through the pile of paperwork we ended on the final document in his huge binder. The bill of sale. Yes, the original document that brought Mr. Details and this vehicle together and ultimately to the repair shop with a fog light problem. The one slip of paper the culminated into a vast collection of facts and figures so well maintained in this leather covered binder that historian’s centuries from now will be studying it in great detail.

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      Click here to view the article

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    • Article: Details - - Ask an absurd question, I might get the giggle snorts...

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Trying to sort out what is a real problem and what is not, can be a terminology battle.   I know I’m not the only one who’s had to deal with the phone call or customer at the service counter who is trying their best to describe their problem, while throwing in some term or part name that just doesn’t fit their explanation. Now, if I try to explain something to someone I always will use the full name or common name for the component. That way I feel I’m not misleading them. They may ask several times, “Now what’s that part called?” and if that happens, I’ll try a little less professional explanation. Although, from the consumer’s side of the counter all bets are off when it comes to explaining things. I’ve heard it all. From headlamps being referred to as “light diffusers”, and a timing belt as a “clocking controller”, and of course, the ever popular… “relay switch”. There are thousands of odd terms out there, far too many for me to list here.   By now, you’ve probably got some sort of grin on your face, yep, me too. My wife on the other hand, tells me I shouldn’t stand at the service counter with that quirky little smirk when this happens. Honestly, after some of the escapades I’ve had, you can’t help but laugh. Just to prove a point, one night after dinner my wife and I were talking about a subject dear to her heart…quilting. (Which I know next to nothing about.) I purposely blurted out a mixture of two different terms I’ve heard her use, all in the wrong context just to see her reaction. And, right on cue she went into full out “giggle snorts”, which nearly dropped her to the floor with laughter. That’s proof enough for me. Whenever you’re talking to a pro, and you try to sound professional and don’t… the giggle snorts are automatic.   This also includes jumping into an explanation for one problem, and then abruptly asking a question that’s completely unrelated or absurd. How do I handle these absurd questions? Easy, I have an absurd answer to go along with it. Of course, I’ll try to correct their misguided information, as long as it doesn’t go so far off base that it turns into a lesson in automotive repair rather than trying to fix their car.   Just the other day I got a call from a guy who told me this interesting story. He said after installing a new battery the headlights wouldn’t work, the park lights wouldn’t work, and it wouldn’t come out of gear. 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Again, that little mechanic brain of mine was trying to put together a mental picture of wires pulled out, a bad transmission, and no tail lights only to have this question about a coil pack come at me from left field. Now all I have is this “Rube Goldberg” image of what’s left of this guy’s car in my head. (For the record a coil pack is a device that produces the high voltage spark for a spark plug, and a are in pairs or multiple coils molded together to form a “pack”.)   His only question was whether or not I think it was caused by a coil pack. My answer to him, “Ah, no.” The more he explained his problem the more my diagnostic mind went into a tail spin with even more bizarre interpretations of unrelated issues. At some point it becomes a futile effort to either explain things, or try to make sense of what is going on.   Every mechanic has experienced these “questions” at some point. I for one, get a kick out of the absurdness and wacky explanations. If you can imagine spending a day deep in thought over a serious diagnostic problem with countless diagrams, software, and scanners, then end up on the phone with somebody wanting to know how much to put a helicopter landing pad on the top of their Yugo, then you can understand why your mechanic gets a case of the giggle snorts when you ask him that.   Sometimes it might be better just to tell the mechanic what the problem is and leave the diagnosing to the experts. The details are in the communication, the better the communication the fewer giggle snorts.     Click here to view the article

      By Gonzo, in AutoShopOwner Articles

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