As season begins to heat up, it’s a perfect time to make some adjustments to your service processes that might have gotten a little rusty during the winter months.  As you know, profitability in the service department happens from following a good process and holding your people accountable to it.  Every process has a beginning; a first step that makes all the other parts of the process work.  In service, the first step of the process begins when the customer interacts with you, either face-to-face or by phone, and you begin to document the information on a work-order so that it makes sense to both the service techs and the customer.

As I do live training on service, I always ask the participants about their “check in “process, how well it works and what could make it better.  In most cases the service managers or service writers feel pretty good about what they are doing, but I normally find that they have a couple of items missing from their process that would help move work through the service department in a more efficient way.

While all information gathered during the check-in process is important, there are a couple of pieces that rise above the rest.  The first being the contact information for the customer.  I know that most everyone gets the customer name, address, phone number and maybe even their email address.  While those are all important, of all the information you gather on the customer, nothing is more important than a cell phone number so that you can text a customer when an estimate is complete, or the work is done, instead of calling them or emailing them.

In today’s world, with all the scam phone calls coming into everyone’s lives most people will not answer them unless they know for sure who is calling.  By sending a text message instead of making a phone call you will find that it will greatly reduce the amount of wait time you have between when you contacted a customer and when they got back to you.  In most cases the average person will respond to a text message within 3 minutes of receiving it.

The other element of the check in process is making sure that when possible, whoever is writing the work-order is doing a detailed service walk around with the customer so that the equipment can be evaluated and service or repair items discussed with the customer before they leave.  Not only will this save a lot of time in the shop, but you will find it much easier to convince a customer to have your service department do additional work on equipment that it needs while they are standing in front of it.

Taking the time to collect the right information and to do a detailed walk around on the customers equipment will reduce lost shop time, and  improve the profitability of your service department.  Keep in mind that it’s the small tweaks you make in your processes that will produce you the results you are trying to achieve and give you a successful and profitable service season.