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Three management questions to answer today

July 08, 2009
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Here are three questions you need to ask yourself today to improve operations at your detail shop, courtesy of

How good is your customer write-up?

One of the most common problems in many repair and detail shop is the lack of time and effort taken with customer write-up. Selling (in a good sense) is the key to success for a repair shop today. The write-up is where great selling begins.

· Do you collect all of the important customer information every time?

· Do you probe for the details of exactly what the customer wants and needs?

· Do you use customer history, current mileage and interview questions to determine other possible services?

An excellent write-up procedure will often take 10-15 minutes and is normally performed best over the phone when the initial contact for service occurs. If your staff is too rushed to take the time needed to handle the procedure correctly, it may be time to review the tasks which your employees on the front counter have to handle and adjust them accordingly.

Is your front counter causing traffic jams?

Complete the service order (as much as you can) before the car arrives. If you consider all of the things that you put on a service order initially before the car is serviced (it should be a fair amount of information if you are doing your job properly), you will find that most or all of it can be entered before the car shows up.

Use phone and email to find out what you need to know in advance instead of holding the customer up on your front counter where things are often busy and the customer has other things to do and places to go. Then when the car does arrive, all you need to do is ask if anything has changed since your last contact, have the customer sign and you are ready to go!

Which car do I work on next?

If that question occurs frequently at your shop, it is likely time to improve your tech assignment system.

· Review incoming cars the day before and assign as many as you can.

· Assign drop-offs immediately when possible.

· Prioritize both assigned and unassigned (jobs that can be handled by any tech) both the day before and as soon as they arrive.

Your techs should be able to glance at their computer screen at any time and know exactly which car is next in line for them without asking the service advisor. A good system here will pay big dividends, especially when the shop is very busy.

Tom and Deb Ham are the owners of Automotive Management Network, an online forum to exchange information about the management of all types of vehicle service facilities, independent auto repair shops, car and truck dealers, franchises, fleets, body shops and more. More information can be found at

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