© 2023 Auto/Mate, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
By Ken Rock
Whenever I visit dealerships, I often see technicians standing around at the parts counter or waiting to talk with service advisors. This is a waste of your technicians’ time and billable hours.
I’m not blaming the technicians. I’m blaming managers and directors who aren’t enforcing the use of an electronic dispatch process.
I don’t care if it’s manual dispatch or auto dispatch. A dispatch process typically involves three steps. More than likely, you currently have the tools and technology in place to implement this dispatch process, but you’re not doing it because (insert excuse here).
First, let’s take a look at the current dispatch situation in most dealerships.
A car comes in for an oil change. Upon inspection, it’s discovered a new drive belt is needed. The tech walks over to the parts department to find out if the part is in stock, and what the price is. Once the tech gets the information, they go find the service advisor. If the advisor is busy, the tech usually waits because he doesn’t want to come back later.
When the advisor is free, the tech tells him the car needs a belt, the part’s in stock and gives him the price. Now the advisor has to stop what he’s doing and get hold of the customer to get them to approve the belt.
The customer’s approval may take a while (hopefully the advisor texts the customer instead of playing phone tag). The tech might wait for a few minutes, then walk back to his bay. Upon approval, the service advisor walks over to the tech to let him know, then the tech goes back to the parts department and has them pull the part. While the tech waits for the part, he chats with other techs or the cashier.
When the part is pulled, the tech goes back to the car and starts the job. The walking around and waiting has cost anywhere from 8 to 25 minutes. If that happens on 5 cars a day, that adds up to 2 to 3 hours of productivity. That’s one tech, one day.
How much more revenue would you make if every tech gave you 2 more billable hours a day—without forcing them to work 2 more hours a day?
This outdated process is unacceptable, but in most dealerships it’s the way it’s always been done so the attitude is why change it? Did I not mention the extra 2 billable hours per tech every day?
If that sounds appealing to you, here’s a better way to dispatch.
More than likely, your dealership management system (DMS) has the following features, which you’re paying for but hardly ever use.
-Service Pricing Guides (SPGs)
-Internal chat or texting feature
It’s time to learn how to use these features. Here’s your new dispatch process.
A vehicle comes in for an oil change. Upon inspection, it’s discovered a drive belt is needed.
The tech opens up the vehicle estimate in the DMS and finds a button that says SPG, short for “Service Pricing Guides.” If you can’t find a button, ask your DMS provider how to find this information. Click on the button to open the SPG.
The tech searches the SPG system for drive belts for the make/model of the vehicle. The SPG lets the tech know if the part’s in stock and what the price is.
If the SPG indicates the part is not in stock, the tech knows they won’t be performing that repair today. Save the estimate and move on to the next job. Notify the service advisor by sending a chat or text with the customer name and the word “estimate.” The service advisor is notified there’s an estimate needing review. When he opens the estimate, the advisor sees the part isn’t in stock. He reaches out for customer approval so they can order the part.
If the SPG indicates the part is in stock, the responsibility of verifying there’s a part physically in stock falls on the advisor. The advisor has the parts number right in front of him because it’s on the service estimate. He chats or texts the parts department to confirm whether the part is in stock and confirms the price. He then reaches out to the customer for approval.
Upon customer approval, the advisor opens up the customer estimate, turns it into an RO, adds the line and sends a chat to the tech with the customer name and “OK to do the job.”
The tech is notified, opens up the RO and clicks on a button that says “Parts request.” He types into the box, “Please pull this part.”
A really good parts department delivers the part to the tech, so the tech doesn’t have to leave his bay. A not-so-good parts department will pull the part and leave it on the counter for the tech to pick up.
Notice how the tech hasn’t left his bay one time with this dispatch process?
If this sounds complicated, it honestly isn’t. It’s the easiest thing in the world and eliminates so much waiting time. We always think it’s easier to do things the same old way, but it’s really not. It’s far more efficient to use the technology you already have to improve your results.
If you follow this process, your techs will work more hours without ridiculous amounts of overtime. Less loitering and more doing is good for your bottom line.