Auto Service World
News   March 12, 2024   by Adam Malik

Why customers expect quality control

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When customers are looking for differentiators from one shop to another, knowing that yours is doing a quality control assessment before they get their vehicle can be considered a delighter.

A quality control (QC) check would include ensuring all tools are removed from the vehicle, that it is wiped clean of any dirt or grease, that the oil change sticker has been replaced if necessary, that no new warning lights are showing up, that all the lights come on as expected, that it starts and so on.

“How many shops in your area are not doing QC or absolutely refuse to do QC?” asked Chris Cloutier, shop owner and founder of Autoflow during a recent webinar. “So actually, I believe it could be a delighter for your customer that they go, ‘Wow, you guys actually take a couple extra minutes to look over my vehicle, make sure that the tools are removed, but it’s wiped down, that the job was done properly.’ That actually becomes a delighter in a world where it is not practiced and followed.”

And shop owners need to ensure staff are doing checks regularly so it becomes part of the daily routine. But it can’t be treated as a negative task.

“It has nothing against your people in your shop. Everybody has the intention of doing a great job,” Cloutier explained during the webinar, Quality Control as a New Year’s Resolution. “The problem is we’re focused on fixing the car and not necessarily focused on potential things we create while fixing the vehicle. And that’s the problem.”

A brake tech might not have realized he stepped in a puddle of grease that they ended up tracking into the vehicle, for example.

“They’re just not looking for that because they’re like, ‘Hey, I just did a $2,000 job … I feel good about myself. I did it in record time. Everything looks good,’” Cloutier explained. “They’re just not concerned about some of those extra things.”

“What we’ve learned to do is celebrate the fact that we found those and the customer didn’t.”

The goal should be to catch things on the QC checklist, he added.

“What we’ve learned to do is celebrate the fact that we found those and the customer didn’t,” Cloutier said.

His team will meet every month and talk about the ones they’ve caught, even laugh at the funny ones. But at the same time, if one person is repeatedly missing something that is caught during a check, that allows the shop owner to recognize a potential issue and resolve it.

“If you allow these things to [stay in] your shop … you get what I consider organizational creep — you’ve now tolerated a certain behaviour and you’re not sharing that it’s an important element of the team to correct this stuff,” said Craig O’Neill, vice president of training at Autoflow. “You have to address it.”

Cloutier agreed. He recommended starting small, say, with a five-point checklist. As checks become a habit, your list can grow.

“This is the way humans work, right?” he said. “Once you create the habit, your five items will turn into six items. And then somebody will say, ‘Well, we really don’t have this’ and they’ll turn into seven items.”

Then you get the opposite of organizational creep, O’Neill pointed out.

“You’re continually refining those elements,” he added. “That’s exactly what you do — by starting small. You just add something here and there, here and there. Because your team will be dialed in at this point.”

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