It's important to the customer that you improve this area. Here are some tips...
How easy are your repair orders to read for the typical customer? Shop coach Clint White bets they’re not at all. He has some advice on making them better.
An easy way to tell your repair order is confusing is to check how often you get a customer asking what something means or if specific work was done even though it’s listed on paper. White recommended giving a repair order to a 12-year-old. Ask if they can read it and explain what was done to the vehicle.
If they can’t, he has some tips for you. He presented these at the Midwest Auto Care Alliance’s Vision Hi-Tech Training & Expo in March.
At the top of the order, there should be the client’s name, address, phone number, make, model and — most important because it’s often left out — outbound mileage and licence plate information.
“How on God’s green earth we do this and cash them out and there’s no outbound mileage,” White lamented. “There’s no license plate numbers. There’s data that’s missing from the vehicle. I shouldn’t have to talk about this but that’s why I’m talking about it — because it’s an issue. Make sure that those points are full, accurate and complete.”
Do you also note the preferred method of contact? If not, White has some words for you.
“You just assumed: They gave you an email, they gave you a cell phone, what the heck? And then you try to call them and their voicemail box is full,” he said. “Does it stifle the sales process when you can’t get a hold of the customer? 100 per cent. And then they get mad because it’s 3:30, 4 p.m. and nobody’s contacted them.”
They may have preferred a text, but you don’t know unless you ask.
The next part of the repair order should cover the four C’s: Concern, cause, correction, and confirmation.
The service advisor should write in what the customer’s concern is, what’s causing the issue, how it was corrected — the job for which you took their money — and confirmation that the issue was resolved. But don’t use industry jargon or words that would leave a customer confused because they don’t understand the meaning.
Specifically, write what the customer says. If the customer used the word “sluggish,” then include it. So, White suggested, something like, “Mrs. Jones brought her Sentra in because the check engine light is on and it runs a bit sluggish.”
That will make the customer feel better because it sends a sign that you actually listened to them. Write out ‘check engine light’ instead of ‘CEL.’
“Remember, we have to speak their language,” White emphasized.
On the next line, explain that the technician — make sure to name them — performed testing and determined that the mass airflow sensor had failed. Again, don’t write ‘MAS,’ but ‘mass airflow sensor’ instead.
On a new line, note that the mass airflow sensor was replaced and that an oil change was performed, tires were rotated and a new air filter was installed.
Then another new line that states the check engine light is off and the car is running normally.
“Remember, we have to speak their language.”
Finally, sign it off with the service advisor’s name.
That way, when Mrs. Smith goes back to her car, she’s going to sit down, read the notes and see you listened to her — you used her exact wording, after all — and that you did all these things with her vehicle. She’ll turn on the car and see the light is no longer on.
“And away they go,” White said. “That’s the experience we’re looking to generate. If your experience doesn’t look like that, your invoice doesn’t read like that, I would highly recommend or mandate: Do that, please.”
I have have to have work orders that are very informative and full of information because with over 400 regular customers I have a very short memory.