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2019-03-25 Keeping Track of the Shop

Keeping Track of the Shop

Let's Talk Shop for BHPH - Pt. 2

By Gene Daughtry, BHPH Consultant

     Like any part of a business, it is best you have the ability to track the work being done. I believe in a service operation it is paramount. If you do any repairs or reconditioning in your operation it can become an inefficient, bleeding money pit if not monitored and managed.

     One thing I suggest and have always done myself is use a repair order for all work performed in the shop or sublet. Every customer interaction, no matter how trivial, should be documented and having a RO (repair order) ability along with a process to insure use is important. Even if you do not physically do repairs in your operation but sublet everything I would still have RO capability at some level to keep track of work done, cost and be able to easily extract the information.

     Whether you pay one or a dozen technicians and they buy parts you should have reports you can pull to verify work that has been done. If you pay the technicians on flag or book hours having the RO to input the jobs into will provide the detail for the technician’s labor hours. If the technician is paid on straight time you should keep track of the labor hours performed in conjunction with the jobs done so you have a comparison to determine productivity. None of the techs should get paid EXCEPT from a report generated by the system used to complete RO’s. This step alone makes the use of RO’s very important in your operation.

     If your Dealer Management System does not have a service module you can easily add one through integration or use a separate standalone program. Sutton Technologies or Omnique both offer a good Service Department program that will work in concert with most of the DMS’s in the market. You may already have a DMS that comes with a service module in place you can access, check with the DMS provider for more information. In an integrated system when you look for the vehicle or customer, repair status is known, and all the information will flow back and forth so you capture recon expenses against the right vehicle with one entry of data. I have operated this way for many years and not only can a lack of maintaining data cause you headaches (and dollars going with no records) but double entry errors can really give accounting a headache (and more dollars can go with flawed records).

     Another option to insure record keeping and RO writing is by using one of the Shop Management Systems available like Mitchell 1, Alldata, ShopKey, or Indentifix. If you have much service volume you and your technicians will need one of the Shop Management Systems to aid in diagnostics. This is what is used by warranty companies and many dealers in the country to help determine labor or book hours, part costs, see diagrams and get bulletins or recalls on vehicles. You will be able to use these systems as well, outside your DMS, to create and track RO’s.

     Being able to write Repair Orders gives you the ability to create the history of a vehicle within your operation. Like with collection notes you need detailed information in service to help your team understand what has happened yesterday and a year from now. What was repaired, replaced and why. The information is never remembered by anyone for long, details are important, and it could affect you in accounting, payroll, with a customer, technician or lawyer. Use the RO to write the story of why. Why did the reconditioning include a repair, what did the customer say when they came in with the vehicle, what was done and why.

     A shop management system will help your team know what recalls need to be checked for a vehicle and help you track where and when you took care of it. You are not legally “on the hook” for handling recalls yet but in the compliance world it’s close and a best practice to manage recalls on every vehicle you sell to a consumer. By creating a RO that includes a recall line or job, you can easily see if you found a recall and what was done (if you make it part of the process). Recalls is the top item after VIN verification on my reconditioning checklist and is handled as part of the recon process, signed off on by the technician assigned the vehicle. You should not sell a vehicle, in my opinion, to a customer without the open recalls being addressed. Either you had the recall handled or the customer is handed a document with the information so they can handle the recall themselves.

     You need accurate and complete diagnostic data that includes repair suggestions or a Diagnostic Tree for the technician to follow. A great used car technician with years of experience will be a data bank of repairs but there is always something new rolling into the shop. Diagnosing issues will be the single most important part of being efficient. Often there is no code that comes with a complaint. Other times there are codes but they are a “down the line” issue caused by a deeper root cause that isn’t obviously related. Having good diagnostic software paired with a quality scanner and someone that understands how to “dig out” root issues are a huge asset.

     Being able to write the story on a Repair Order that includes what the customer complained about (car needs a ball joint, makes a noise when I turn in traffic) and what was found by the technician (damaged tie rod and bent rim). What was remembered by each party 6 months from now will be different. If the vehicle comes back later because the front tire on that side is wearing much quicker than the rest, did an alignment get done? What was replaced and by whom? Why is the customer arguing we ignored what he said? The RO should tell the story. Your shop management system should provide easy access to the entire history, so the conversation is easy to verify and your data reflects who and why something was or wasn’t done.

     One of the big lies we all tell ourselves at some point is “I don’t need to write that down, I’ll remember”. HA! I laughed just typing that line! If you have ever been in front of a judge with one of your customers remember that situation and think of it when you create processes in your operation. What do you want on your side in court? Your memory or a complete Repair Order?

Gene Daughtry has almost 30 years of BHPH experience. He setup and operated 4 different dealerships, all with full service operations. Currently Gene represents Jilcat Proline and their super lubricant line of products, does training with Auto Master Systems, provides Service Consulting and capital help for dealers through or call his mobile 479-970-4049