Service advisors boost results by pre-writing repair orders

(Getting a head start on service visits can give you a leg up on improving your customer’s experience.)

shakehandsEmpathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s position emotionally. It is an essential skill for dealership service advisors. For instance, consider the customer who comes into your service department and announces to an advisor, “I’m here for my 8:15 appointment,” only to be met with confusion as there does not seem to be any record of the customer’s appointment or the reason for his service visit. It makes a terrible impression on the customer and leaves the service advisor at least knee deep in a hole from which he now must start recovering. Even if there is a record of the appointment, what is the customer to think when the advisor starts the process from scratch – “What did you say your name is?”

Even though most service customers these days have been conditioned to make appointments, most service advisors wait until the customer actually shows up to begin writing the repair order. This puts the advisors behind the curve from the beginning – knee deep in hole. While the customer is explaining what he needs done, the advisor is busily completing basic information on the R.O. It reduces the service advisor to the role of order taker rather than service consultant. It’s the equivalent of a student waiting until the professor hands out the exam paper to begin doing some research.

Getting the repair orders started the evening before the customer is scheduled for service gives advisors a leg up on helping customers.

Pre-writing repair orders includes getting the basic contact and vehicle information as well as reviewing the vehicle’s service history so that the service consultant can make informed recommendations for maintenance work that is due or might have been missed on previous visits. Pre-written repair orders also free up time for a vehicle walkaround with the customer.

Fixed operations expert Mike Bowers stresses the importance of pre-writing repair orders every time he visits a dealership client. In fact he has been recommending pre-writes since the late 1980s. “Most of the dealerships I visit have this as part of their process already. They just need to use it more consistently,” he says.

Five advantages

According to Mike, there are five pros of getting as much information on the write up as early as possible. There are no cons:

  1. Being more informed of a customer’s potential needs before they arrive allows the service advisor to formulate a plan for offering maintenance services, rather than doing it on the fly.
  2. Increase customer-pay hours per R.O.
  3. Reduce crowding at the advisor’s desk.
  4. Easier work flow in the shop.
  5. Improved CSI since customers will feel their advisor and the dealership are more informed and in touch with the customer’s needs.

Consistency is the key

If it makes so much sense to pre-write repair orders, why don’t more service advisors do it? Making the pre-write a part of every customer appointment is the key, in Mike Bowers experience. “It’s about the customer’s experience,” notes Mike. When the customer makes an appointment for a Check Engine Light, that’s all he knows. He doesn’t know why the light came on and he is not thinking about other service he might need like a tire rotation, new wiper blades, or replacing the engine air filter. The customer relies on the service advisor to keep him informed.

When the appointment is taken, it is an opportunity for both the service and parts department to ensure the best experience for the customers. Everyone benefits.

Source: DealersEdge Service Advisor