Triaging is vital to keeping our shops moving and our techs efficient. The triaging process happens after the equipment has been checked into the dealership, the work order has been filled out and hopefully signed by the customer, and a red ribbon has been attached to show the equipment has just been checked in.

At 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., the service coordinator will go to the service manager or service writer, take the clipboards and begin sorting out the equipment based upon the work orders on each tech’s clipboard. As an example, if the service coordinator took my clipboard and the manager had put work orders for 10 mowers on it, the service coordinator would find those 10 mowers and put them in a line so that the first one matched the first work order and so on.

With the equipment set to match the work orders on the clip boards, the final element for the service coordinator to prepare for triaging is to do a quick check of the equipment that is lined up. If the work order doesn’t have the equipment information on it, the service coordinator will complete that information on the work order. It’s important to have the brand, model and serial numbers on the work order so that parts can be pulled or ordered as needed by the parts department. Once that is complete, the service coordinator will make sure that each piece of equipment has oil in the engine, if required, and start each piece to make sure the engines will run. If the service coordinator can’t start the engine, the equipment is pulled out of the line.

The service coordinator will then write on the work order that the equipment needs to come into the service department for a more in-depth evaluation. It’s important to note that we cannot triage an engine that won’t run or has an electrical issue. In both cases, the equipment will need to be staged into the service department for a more rigorous evaluation by the technician.

This is also the time when things like covers are removed so that the techs can quickly evaluate the machine. Many of my service coordinators will go ahead and check cables, blades, recoil ropes, tire and tire pressure, if need be, and make notes on the work order if they see something that needs to be evaluated by the tech.

If any of the equipment you are triaging has a battery that might be weak or low, make sure you have a fully charged battery jump box ready for a tech who might need it. Grab a spark tester, spark plug wrench, if possible, probably a Phillips and straight screwdriver for the technicians, anything they might need to expedite the diagnostic process.

The service coordinator is trying to help the techs be fast and efficient. Your goal for diagnosing equipment is to have no more than 1/10th of an hour set aside for walk-behind or hand-held equipment and no more than 2/10ths of an hour for anything that is a ride-on or a snow thrower. I want to stress again, the goal is not to have the technician fix the equipment. Instead, they should think of themselves as a “paramedic” at an accident site.

Again, the goal of the triage process is to be able to do a quick evaluation of equipment the day it comes in to identify anything out of the ordinary or whether a part is needed. We need to communicate that information to the customer within 24 hours of the equipment coming into the dealership.