Auto Service World
News   May 19, 2022   by Adam Malik

Why shops need a quality control system for customer vehicles

Shops without quality control checks risk turning off customers and losing them forever, experts recently warned.

Forgetting to change the oil change sticker or not resetting a light are simple mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. These are humans working on the vehicle, after all, noted Chris Cloutier, founder of and co-owner of Golden Rule Auto Care. But the customer doesn’t care. They see the old sticker and wonder if you even changed the oil.

That sticker is important for ensuring customers return to your shop. According to the Automotive Industries Association of Canada’s latest Consumer Behaviour Series report, Vehicle Owner Attitudes Towards Maintenance and Repair – Views of 2,000 Canadian Car Owners, a sticker on the windshield is one of the ways customers prefer to be reminded about maintenance.

“How many stickers do we miss? How many gloveboxes are still on the floor after doing a cabin air filter? How many rags, how many flashlights [are left behind]? How many oil caps are missing?” said Clint White, a service advisor coach and shop consultant with CWI. “I could keep going. How many times [have you] sold a thing and it didn’t get put on the car?”

White and Cloutier spoke during two different sessions at the Midwest Auto Care Alliance’s Vision Hi-Tech Training & Expo in Kansas City in March.

Another simple mistake is leaving a blotch of grease on the steering wheel. The customer gets in the car and now there’s grease on the customer’s hand. That happened at Cloutier’s shop to his sister-in-law. She picked up the phone and yelled at him because her car was dirty and she had grease on her hands.

And who pays for this? Usually, it’s the service advisor because they’re the one the customer comes back to yell at.

Cloutier’s background is in software development, an industry where nothing gets released without extensive quality control checks. In automotive repair, though, it’s a different story.

“We’re one of the only industries that don’t do quality control,” he said during his presentation Managing Change in Your Shop.

So he developed a quality control list for his shop. For every vehicle, he’d go through the checklist. He got pushback from staff but kept going. Turns out, vehicles were failing the quality control check upwards of 60% of the time. “You’re OK with this?” he asked his service advisors.

He urged every shop owner to develop a list of their own.

“You know how much time it takes to go check out a car real quick? To walk around it real quick? To open it up, turn on the engine, make sure there’s no grease and wipe it down real quick?” he said.

He timed himself. The process to about five to seven minutes. “Five to seven minutes is still a lot of time you’re [spending] on every car. But what does it cost you to buy a new customer?” he asked.

Doing this is a competitive advantage for his shop. “We let every customer know before this car leaves that somebody has looked at, and we’ve guaranteed that we’re going to get that car back to you in better shape than it came in,” he said. “If you’re not doing QC process, you should.”


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1 Comment » for Why shops need a quality control system for customer vehicles
  1. Alan Gelman says:

    Of course the main reason for test driving and checking the vehicle is to confirm that the repairs were done properly. As insignificant as your tech may find it, grease on the steering wheel or carpet can irritate some owners to no end. Don’t forget as well to make sure if any electrical work had been done, that the clock and radio stations were programmed correctly. We lost 2 customers for life in each of these examples.

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