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Staying on top of vehicle and customer status while being able to manage customer expectations and facilitate maximum tech productivity is one of the main jobs of a service advisor/production manager. Linking canned jobs to the inspection sheet and using existing and self-defined smart markers make a big difference. Join Chad Kennedy and Sara Savio in discussing their best practices with Bill, and Uwe.

Episode Transcript

*This transcript was generated using Artificial Intelligence. Errors may occur. If you notice an error, please contact [email protected].

Bill Connor (00:07):
So good morning, good afternoon. I’m Bill Connor and you’ve reached a Digital Shop Talk Radio where every Wednesday we get on here and share some great information about Digital Shop. We highly encourage people to join us live by going to and register so that way you can keep up to date on what’s going on and that would be great. And so today I’ve got Chad Kennedy, owner of Chad Kennedy’s Autopro way out there on the far eastern part of North America, and I’ve got Sara Savio, the service manager from Sacramento Specialty Automotive all the way on the other coast of North America. So we’re going to try our best to go ahead and make sure we’ve got something from everybody no matter where on North American continent you are today. We’ve also got Uwe AutoVitals very own Chief Innovation Officer. He went ahead and kind of popped in here at the last minute, so we’re going to torture him a little bit, I’m sure.
And today we’re going to be discussing on top of vehicles and customer statuses to go through the shop and while managing customer expectation and Phyllis whatever, taking care of maximum technician productivity through the service visit. So these are the main things a service advisor or production manager is actually charged with doing and there’s some tools that we have that actually make it easier for ’em, like linking can jobs, inspection sheets, using existing or self-defined smart markers and other tools. These make a huge difference. So these two panelists will be sharing ways they’re using smart markers and other tools to make your life a lot easier and you’ll take away some solid information to put these tools to work in your shop. As always, you’re going to learn from panelists operating shop just like yours. So Uwe, if you wouldn’t mind, you want to take us away and let’s dive off into this particular topic.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (02:00):
Happy to do so. When you look at productivity boosters in an interrupt driven and super busy environment, then writing stuff down or talking to each other seems often a lot of time invested for just a short information and then you forget. So that’s why the smart markers where an idea of using a visual which is constantly visible together with other vehicle information right in front of your nose, whether you are tech or service advisor. Some even have big screens in their shop with the TVP on it so everybody can see even motorists who are waiting in the office. And so the other thing we really noticed is when we talk to Chad and Sara and all the other shop owners, sometimes that’s not even enough. So give you an example, there’s a waiter and the promise time was two hours and we are already close to the end of the second hour and you remember that the customer has been promised that the call is done in two hours, that you get an additional reminder that
Be aware that the two hours are about to expire. So we build stuff so it’s flashing and so on and so forth. So long story short, smart markers from my perspective are a great way of having a consistent but also persistent reminder for everybody, especially tax and service advisors to know where they’re at and what needs to be done. I hope Chad and Sara, I summarized that good enough to kick you up because the other beauty we have done I hope is with a preset list of smart markers, we still allow to build your own smart markers because we don’t want to take away the imagination of our clients to come up with things they really need in their shop. That’s why I’m excited to see what you guys have done. So maybe we start with a simple question, Chet and Sara, when you encountered smart markers first, which has now been a while ago, what were your first reactions? Do you remember that even?
Chad Kennedy (05:25):
Yeah, I do. Absolutely. When I first started I put them in right away. We did have trouble put the jobs out to the correct technicians and it was just cumbersome, kind of open the work order to see what to do. So right after the bat, originally when I started with them, I did ’em the first day because I’ve seen the importance of just the efficiency of behind the proper jobs to the proper tax.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (05:53):
And did the team embrace it right away or was there Hey, I’m used to being told what is going on.
Chad Kennedy (06:02):
Yeah, most, I’d say 90% embraced it right away and then the 10% that didn’t, it only took them about two weeks to see the value of it and they were like, oh yeah, now I can see where this is going and how well it does work when you use it all properly.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (06:17):
Okay, cool. Sara, how was it with you?
Sara Savio (06:22):
Smart markers have been a blessing per se from the day we started using them. For me personally, I like to organize. I come in early, I want to know before my technicians come in that when they walk in there’s not going to be a question, what’s first, second, third on their list. I also, as much as we use workflow statuses, I like to have those markers on there waiting for authorization. It fits and I live most of my life in the technician view as opposed to the workflow view. So at a glance I can see my labor hours when I know what is first and the defined times that I use and I do use a marker for time as opposed to the Promise state because honestly with my eyes that promise date is just too small. So when I’m going through the day, I can see if I need to reassign work.
If somebody is taking a little bit longer, we quite frequently, as an example, I have five Subaru head gaskets and motors going on right now, so it’s very frequent that we have parts at the machine shop and at times troubled parts. So there’s just a visual cue for both myself and for my technicians directly as to what the expectation is with the customer and that will give me on the fly the ability to look and say, I need to get ahold of Mr. Jones and let him know we’re running a little behind. I’m going to follow up with you. I expect now to have answers for you at two o’clock. So as far as managing expectations, technician expectations, so I know where things are, dates, times, not everything is generally a today type of situation that just helps keep me and my technicians organized.
Bill Connor (08:16):
I hear you saying you’re using the smart markers to go ahead and further break down a workflow step. So an example, you could have something in parts ordered on hold, but then you would add an additional smart marker to go ahead and say that it set the machine shop or a certain part store is waiting, so you’re using it to go ahead and further organize the chaos.
Sara Savio (08:34):
Bill Connor (08:36):
Uwe Kleinschmidt (08:38):
Do you even remember how you did all this before? I
Sara Savio (08:44):
Not really. It definitely makes the job much easier to manage. I have put away my chaos coordinator and mouse pad that I’ve had for so long and I just go with the standard mouse pad. Now there’s obviously a lot of chaos in our day, but the smart markers and the tools that we have through AutoVitals really help to bring that level down,
Bill Connor (09:14):
Bringing these visuals in. Did that reduce a lot of the noise you had by having every different person ask you the same question over and over again, they could just look and get the answer?
Sara Savio (09:24):
Absolutely. And it’s great on the accountability side that the technician sees when a marker is going up so they know if a time commitment has changed or if a day has changed or whatever the case may be. So there’s not an excuse, they get that alert on their tablet and it can’t be a, oh, I didn’t know that that happened. Well yes you do. You have the visual there, you got the popup notifying you. And so the more I can keep my technicians in line with my expectations to my customers, the better that all gels and comes together.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (10:10):
Cool. Let’s dive right into it. I think Bill, you have prepared to share the TVP for both, so
Bill Connor (10:24):
I bet I can certainly do that. Let’s go ahead and see if we can’t go ahead and get a today’s vehicle page up here. Look, that look kind of familiar.
Chad Kennedy (10:35):
Yeah, looks familiar to me.
Bill Connor (10:38):
And so we’re looking at TA shop here. So Uwe if you want to ask some questions and get them started down through here, we can certainly get moving.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (10:48):
Yeah, I would mean it looks pretty colorful. Colorful. Chad, if you wouldn’t mind, go through the ones, oh, I see warranty pods is red and a angry man.
Chad Kennedy (11:09):
Nobody likes warranty.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (11:12):
Tell us.
Chad Kennedy (11:15):
Yeah, sure. So I guess you’re looking at that one that’s a superior glass. So right off the bat we kind of have an exhaust guy, so that job there because of the muffler first thing you would look at and say that’s an exhaust job, so you kind of know who to divvy that job out to. The second one’s pretty obvious, it’s just a regular oil change
And then the warranty par logo, one of the biggest things that logo is there for is to, and I have a job code assigned to that that guy has to punch off just to ensure that he’s saved the parts and a logo there for double assurance that he doesn’t throw the parts away and he knows that they’re for warranty. And the very last one there would be an alignment so that it’s actually a good work order show how important markers are because there’s a lot of steps to that work order. So ask go in alignment machine goes to a certain exhaust guy and he’s going to keep the warranty parts.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (12:10):
So let me ask a question. It shouldn’t replace or duplicate the work order, right? It’s not everything which is on the work order is a smart marker. What do those really mean? Is it for alignment? Obviously it means I need some equipment which maybe another call needs two. And so you see this way do like a, what’s the word? Resource management. Everybody knows that those calls need now the alignment rack and what are the other, why is oil change on there? What does the team know by looking at the oil change marker?
Chad Kennedy (13:00):
That might be like if for me, if that was just had an oil change on it and without opening the work order and let’s say it was only one job on the work order to say an oil change, we know that’s just basically an oil change and then you might be able to give it to one of the apprentices or something along those lines.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (13:17):
Oh, I see. Okay. So it helps you assigning the right vehicle to the right tech.
Chad Kennedy (13:24):
Oh absolutely. Almost every special marker is, that’s probably the biggest, most important thing for
Uwe Kleinschmidt (13:30):
I see
Chad Kennedy (13:33):
You’re looking at the next one that is the stud, a set of tires, that’s the diamond. So that means it has a winter tires that have to be studded. That’s a really big one too because usually we don’t have license guys stud tires. So if we see that on the work order, we’ll split the work order in half and give it to the apprentice to set the tires before the car comes in. The green logo means he’s getting four new tires. The green means they’re new. If it was in blue it means the customer’s supplying them so then the tech knows he’s going to get the tires off a rack or if the tires should be in the guy’s car, again that’s oil change, synthetic and then a wheel on it. Rick and Emma, that would be a loaner car. So that means we have them in a loaner car so we know where they all are and what time they’re going to come back. And instead of new tires, sorry, instead of customer supply tires,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (14:33):
Chad Kennedy (14:39):
Same idea here. This is the oil change synthetic. This means they’re putting for their own tires and they’re on rims so they don’t have to be mounted.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (14:48):
Oh, interesting.
Bill Connor (14:53):
Up in the far northeast they got the tire change season, which seems to be a whole season for ’em. So they got all kinds of different things that they have to be aware of.
Chad Kennedy (15:04):
Yeah, absolutely. The first one is, it’s funny that we’re using a US logo, but that’s an inspection. Even though I’m in Canada, we use that logo because it fit well just basically because we don’t have one. We need a Canada,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (15:22):
Oh we need a Canada
Bill Connor (15:24):
Feature request
Chad Kennedy (15:28):
The yellow with the three there. That means it went subleted out to a body shop. So that means there’s a couple of people’s hands involved in it. And the very last one would be, and this one I think is great too, is it means it assigned to that technician. So that one there has to go to Chris, so that means he’s probably already looked at it. He’s obviously needed some work that had to be settled out for the safety inspection, so we make sure it goes back to the same technician so he can pass it for a provincial inspection.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (15:58):
So help me understand, he is already, oh, I get it because it’s a subleted one so the car has left.
Chad Kennedy (16:08):
Yeah, it’s not even,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (16:11):
Yeah, you use the smart marker to know who gets it back once it’s back. Okay. Exactly. Got it. Little slow. Sorry.
Chad Kennedy (16:20):
This one’s really good too. Even though it’s one of my loaner carriers, it broke down and it needs to be pushed in. So right off the bat, a little bit of work order and we know you got to go get a bunch of guys to go push this car in.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (16:32):
That’s cool.
Bill Connor (16:35):
Awesome. And so every one of these that we looked at aren’t for the most part standard smart markers. These are ones that you guys have actually went ahead and found a need to do and actually added them?
Chad Kennedy (16:49):
Yeah, I think most of ’em, yeah, they’re in there. We just might tweak ’em a little bit for ourselves. That would be sublet out for a windshield.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (17:03):
Trying to think. I see a DVI one in there.
Chad Kennedy (17:08):
It’s funny that that is there because we only put that there yesterday. My service manager put it there, but we’re actually taking it off. We used one inspection and it’s not really needed the way we run our shop.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (17:22):
Oh I see.
Chad Kennedy (17:23):
Yeah, we will be making one for tire storage because we store tires here and we’ll have a second inspection with a smart marker logo that says tire storage and then we’ll have an inspection attached to it. So they write down the year, make, and model of the the make and model of the tire and how many 30 seconds are on for storage. That’s what we’re doing with that right there.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (17:48):
So don’t see any smart market utilizing POS availability. How do you manage that?
Chad Kennedy (17:58):
Honestly, nothing there today is waiting on parts, so we do use it.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (18:03):
Oh I see.
Chad Kennedy (18:05):
It just happens to be the day you’re looking at it that we don’t have it, so we kind of do both. If it’s waiting for par, it’s going to be a couple of days. We have a waiting for Paris sublet category, which is kind best way to put it is just freezes it for the tech that he doesn’t have to see it on his tablet if it’s out. And then what we do is we do have, we use the logo coming, the ones that you guys already have set out for us, parts coming on Wednesday at two o’clock or whatever it might be. It’s just nothing on that day is has parts on order.
Bill Connor (18:39):
See there was a bunch of them here that you’ve got configured and then let’s go over to parts category and just see kind of what’s there.
Chad Kennedy (18:47):
Yeah, the first two probably shouldn’t be there. They should be somewhere else.
Bill Connor (18:56):
That’s an interesting one. Don’t call yet.
Chad Kennedy (18:59):
That means we did the job too quick and don’t phone the customer’s helmets. Done.
Bill Connor (19:03):
Uwe Kleinschmidt (19:06):
That’s pretty awesome.
Chad Kennedy (19:07):
It’s a crucial one if something’s valuable in a truck and it should be in the shop overnight so the technician knows to bring it in and leave it in there.
Bill Connor (19:26):
Lots of them added in there.
Chad Kennedy (19:29):
One of the handiest ones actually we just made just recently because of our entire season it gets really busy as the no appointment one. So if somebody comes in and just says We’re booked for two weeks right now and they say well we’ll leave it, we actually tag that smart market to it just to say make sure we’re not doing it before anybody else’s job that actually had an appointment. So it kind of flags them to say we can do it, but they’re on the back burner.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (19:58):
And when do you decide to build a new workflow step instead of a smart market? This could be for example, a perfect workflow step where you park cause which or not.
Chad Kennedy (20:14):
I’m the same as Sara. We only use the tech screen more than the workflow screen. We have an estimator or what’s the right term that you guys use for
Bill Connor (20:26):
Production manager? Production
Uwe Kleinschmidt (20:27):
Manager. Yeah,
Chad Kennedy (20:27):
Production manager. He’ll use. That’s the other screen. But all when we’ve tried it, we just found this screen is the easiest screen to keep everybody in the same loop. I think personally in my own shop, too many workflow steps seem to cause confusion.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (20:43):
Bill Connor (20:44):
I sure you got a lot of green bars up there
Chad Kennedy (20:47):
Up. Yeah, it’s good. It means everybody’s at least on the right work order.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (20:53):
Awesome. Very cool.
Chad Kennedy (21:00):
One thing I was saying Uwe that I thought would be great before we started here is the tomorrow’s appointments in today’s appointments having special markers on that because right now they’re all blank. I think that would be a huge request. Main reason is if you can look at your next day
Uwe Kleinschmidt (21:20):
Chad Kennedy (21:20):
Quick and look at that whole sheet, you’d see what subletted out you could see. Yeah, so all those cars you can click right now and if I knew there was tires and storage that had to come over, I think it would be a huge help.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (21:40):
Okay, so because they’re often just appointments, you would want them then to carry over to the work order I assume Nothing.
Chad Kennedy (21:55):
Uwe Kleinschmidt (22:03):
And then do you see also the need for smart markers to stay on even after the appointment and show up automatically?
Chad Kennedy (22:18):
Not sure with the
Uwe Kleinschmidt (22:18):
Appointment. What would be a good example? I don’t know. Wheel lock location. So the moment the call pops up, it reminds it from, so you can make it permanent up there and then it stays with the vehicle basically and not with the
Chad Kennedy (22:45):
Oh that’d be fantastic for wheel locks for sure.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (22:49):
Okay. Okay, noted. Cool. How are we doing in time? Maybe one more question but when I think you answered it already, we allowed the smart markers to trigger an inspection assignment. Do you use that?
Chad Kennedy (23:16):
We honestly just started yesterday. We didn’t even do it. So there should be one there that says tire storage and I can only speak to it roughly because I haven’t used it yet. It might be under the customer. Oh there it is the pink one.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (23:32):
Yeah it is.
Chad Kennedy (23:33):
Yes. Which I think it’s going to work great. We always have a problem with tire storage because techs won’t write down the tires that are coming off the car. What make and model they are, they basically go off site to a storage container and they need to be logged what’s there so they don’t always write down the make a tire coming off. So this actually flagged an inspection sheet for ’em that has just a tire storage inspection sheet that is mandatory that they have to fill in all these things. Like I said,
Bill Connor (24:06):
Service rider put this tire storage job on the repair order and it automatically applies the marker so everybody can see it. And it also selected the correct inspection sheet,
Chad Kennedy (24:15):
Correct? Yeah.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (24:16):
And the technician does the inspection to capture all the information about the tire tires which gets stored and then they go back into the point of sale.
Chad Kennedy (24:27):
Yeah, they do. They go back into the point of sale and they go in into inventory.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (24:31):
Okay, very cool.
Chad Kennedy (24:38):
It worked great actually. It was a great idea. One of our model bottles people that mentioned it to me and I was like, oh that is a great idea.
Bill Connor (24:49):
Yeah, your tire change season up north. It creates a lot of different opportunities because are you going to store the customer’s tires for them? Are they in stock? Are they going to take ’em with ’em? All kinds of different things come up.
Chad Kennedy (25:04):
Oh yeah, there’s a lot of moving parts to the tires easy.
Bill Connor (25:09):
And then this is Sara’s home.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (25:23):
Sara, where do you want to start?
Sara Savio (25:26):
Well I mean it honestly should be really, really obvious kind of looking at what’s going on. The visuals are important to me so that I can move tiles around if necessary. I can at this point see that all my technicians are on track. I know that Reggie has a waiting customer and that’s due in 54 minutes. My technicians are all aware of what their order is for the day and that’s, there we go. So that’s how I organize down at the bottom here. I can see parts are coming in at one. That vehicle is promised out today, Ryan, it’s the third tile right there. So I do use that parts marker so that we know when parts are expected in and I keep ’em pretty simple. I like Chad, the markers that you have on there. It took me quite a while honestly to get used to not having my custom markers where I could put the little JPEG images on those made me smile and made me happy sometimes. But this version, it’s uniform, it’s simple and it’s understandable.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (26:57):
Please show me
Bill Connor (26:58):
This one doesn’t mean that somebody’s done a bad thing.
Sara Savio (27:02):
I’m sorry. Oh no, that’s one that cylinder heads need to come off of today.
Bill Connor (27:08):
I thought you were being kind of hard on your staff.
Sara Savio (27:11):
No, that would say zapper or something like that.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (27:16):
What are the first? Second is a third
Sara Savio (27:21):
That is the technician’s order. So that once again is accountability. As much as we all know that we work right to left top first row down, if I change the order, the technician’s going to see the popup and they’re going to know that I’ve changed the order based on an expectation or parts availability, whatever the case may be. And that is the second thing that they’re to be doing. So when I’m working at the desk at my command central, when they’re done with number one, I do switch the tiles so second becomes first and so they’re at any moment in time when they pick up that tablet, they know exactly what the expectation is.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (28:05):
And so the simple order on the TVP is not enough to determine that because they don’t get an alert.
Sara Savio (28:15):
My technicians kind of like to see that for second, third and I like to have that as a double layer of protection so that if something were to happen and I always live in that what if world because expectations are huge for me that I have that added second layer so that everybody knows where we’re supposed to be.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (28:41):
Makes sense.
Sara Savio (28:45):
And he’s all done?
Uwe Kleinschmidt (28:48):
Bill Connor (28:50):
Let’s go ahead and open this up and let’s take a look at some of the different markers that she’s got configured. So here we are in your customer area.
Sara Savio (29:03):
I pretty much put everything under customer, it’s just easier for me to not switch through the options. Customer vehicle parks, as you look through there you will see that everything for the most part is under customer. I don’t like switching tabs and everything is either it’s alphabetized in there so I know how to get to it. So that’s where you’re going to see the most of my markers.
Bill Connor (29:33):
This is the one they know they’re in trouble?
Sara Savio (29:35):
Uwe Kleinschmidt (29:41):
Sara Savio (29:43):
And sometimes we’ll put four of those on a tab on an entire tile. So generally that is used if there’s something that is really hard to communicate by a marker and that’s something that I just physically need to see the technician for a specific reason. Most commonly they’re going to get a chat message from me whether through a vehicle chat or a technician chat. So I do utilize that, but if a technician is at lunch, whatever the case may be, I want them to know the first thing they need to do when they get back is to come and see me.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (30:24):
Oh, makes total sense.
Bill Connor (30:30):
This one that we’re seeing more and more shops started using here lately with the shortage of parts, customer has a vehicle, so I guess you use that when you put ’em back in your vehicle, the parts arrive and leave the repair order open?
Sara Savio (30:44):
Bill Connor (30:55):
So you got waiting for parts, tires here in bin.
Sara Savio (31:01):
So each of the technicians have a bin where there’s a smaller job and parts will fit in that bin so that they would know that the parts are physically sitting in their bin. We have gone to more of a setup where I’m the only advisor and I do have an estimator slash production manager and that’s Alex and he will get parts and either put them in the bin or take them directly to the technician. So that’s a good visual for the technician that the parts are in their bin when they get to that particular job.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (31:41):
Very cool.
Bill Connor (31:50):
So when I look at both you and Chad, it looks like with your use of the markers, that really cuts down the verbal communication maybe so it’s not so noisy in the front office.
Sara Savio (32:02):
That’s the goal.
Chad Kennedy (32:06):
Uwe Kleinschmidt (32:11):
Would you want more smart markers? Let’s assume that’s possible per vehicle.
Chad Kennedy (32:19):
Yes. I’d like to see every job have a smart marker honestly.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (32:24):
Oh, I see.
Sara Savio (32:26):
Are you talking,
Chad Kennedy (32:27):
I understand if you have a car that has 10 things on it, we don’t need 10 smart markers, but I don’t know, maybe two more.
Sara Savio (32:38):
I would like more smart markers but that’s going to make it smaller. The tile smaller, we have limited real estate, so I think it’s kind of a give and take and what is it that we can’t live without? What is it that we absolutely need? And if we could have a tile, maybe a third size larger, another row of markers would be fantastic. You would have collapsed mode, which I don’t use very often being the only advisor, but I would not want room for more markers at the risk of making the tile smaller.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (33:24):
Chad Kennedy (33:25):
I agree.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (33:30):
Did you know you can use those two icons next to the vehicle and the customer also, but it’s not convenient,
Bill Connor (33:41):
Right for the service advisor but doesn’t go for the technician.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (33:46):
Oh, I see.
Chad Kennedy (33:47):
Can you show me that? Oh, you’re talking about this here? Okay.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (33:51):
Yeah, that would be just things for the service advisor to keep in mind.
Bill Connor (33:58):
What I really like about these though is that they persist across visits. So depending on what you put here it can be really helpful.
Chad Kennedy (34:07):
Did you say that comes? Sorry, you said if you put that wheel lock in there, it comes in every time
Bill Connor (34:12):
It’s going to show the service advisor every time. What seems to be more effective use of this When you get down into customer area, if you’ve got one that’s a family friend or every time they come in, they’re disgruntled, anything you set here is going to go ahead and actually stay across visits until it’s changed. So if they’re a VIP customer, it’s really good to go ahead and see that visual reminder, but again, it’s only going to show on the today’s vehicle page for the service advisor. So it is really something that you wouldn’t really want to pass on to the technician.
Sara Savio (34:51):
But that is also great, I mean for when it creates the tile, if it’s in a future appointment, if you note where your wheel lock is, then you can add your marker. So that would be a good visual for the advisor as the work progresses into today’s appointments.
Bill Connor (35:13):
Chad Kennedy (35:16):
So Sara, I can tell that me and you use ’em completely different almost. So when you pass those jobs, do you open up every work order to see what they’re
Sara Savio (35:26):
Well because I’m the only advisor, I’m the one checking them in. I know you
Chad Kennedy (35:31):
Generally know.
Sara Savio (35:32):
Yeah, I know what they are.
Chad Kennedy (35:35):
Yeah. Okay.
Bill Connor (35:37):
So Chad, I kind of get what you’re saying and I see a lot of high volume shops do that and what they do is they’ve got a second board up in the shop and if something comes in here that’s just got an oil change or tire swap on it, they actually let their general service guys go ahead and self assign them and just keep on moving and they never have to open a repair order and look at it.
Chad Kennedy (35:56):
Yeah. Oh that’s the main reason we do it. We normally never open a repair order. We can kind of tell by our special markers of what each job is without opening it because opening it, especially when you’re sliding them around from tech to tech, if you’re moving things around to somebody ended up getting a big job, it’s just too cumbersome to look open and look at every work order and you know what? It’s easier to miss anything. It’s hard to miss anything on this page.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (36:24):
Sara Savio (36:25):
So do you still transfer notes to technician notes to your point of sale through opening the tile under the repair order?
Chad Kennedy (36:34):
Sorry, say that again. Do you mean do I have all, so most home I’m going to say all these have a job code. I use protractor in protractor that are tagged to them. So even that car would, yeah, so each one of those say customer supply to tires that would be tagged to that job or that can junk.
Sara Savio (36:54):
Got it.
Chad Kennedy (36:54):
So you’re not like doing it twice, you’re just doing it once in protractor and basically all those will come over. The only way we don’t use that one is for parts coming next Wednesday. We just kind of click on the smart marker and that’s it.
Sara Savio (37:06):
Gotcha. I like it.
Chad Kennedy (37:11):
We have production manager and two service advisors. That’s why it’s very helpful to have that when you have three people doing it.
Sara Savio (37:19):
Uwe Kleinschmidt (37:21):
So Chad, what’s your call count weekly
Chad Kennedy (37:25):
Right now? Way too many, right? This week it’s probably 150.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (37:35):
Okay, yeah that explains it.
Chad Kennedy (37:40):
And that’s me trying to dial it down so it sometimes gets higher than that.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (37:44):
Right, I see. So for you the smart markers are really icons for jobs more or less
Chad Kennedy (37:57):
Other than that minus the parts part of it,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (38:03):
Chad Kennedy (38:05):
That’s the majority that we use it for.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (38:08):
Very cool. And would it be helpful, I mean I’m just spit balling here. If you hover over the portion and the tile, like the O number for example, if the whole work order pops up or would it not?
Chad Kennedy (38:28):
No, it would help for sure, but it still then you’re going over each work order to see what it is
Uwe Kleinschmidt (38:36):
You need everything in one view. So
Chad Kennedy (38:39):
Yeah, the morning is a great example because we kind of run our shop that everybody drops their crop in the morning and leaves it till five. So you see the no tech there in the morning that’s got 25, 30 cars on it.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (38:53):
Chad Kennedy (38:53):
If you have a customer waiting and I know the logos are not there right now, it automatically would already have that waiting logo on it over there. And if you’ve seen 30 cars you can kind of say okay, these three people are waiting and you can see it. But any other way you’d almost have to open every work order and look at it.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (39:09):
Makes total sense.
Chad Kennedy (39:13):
But that is a good idea honestly because if you had a job that was 20 hours of a whole bunch of different things, it would be nice to highlight over that and get a quick view of everything. Then it would take care of not having to have a lot of markers. You could get away with just a small amount.
Bill Connor (39:34):
There’s a couple different type of markers that we haven’t talked about. Things that like a countdown marker where it’s fully configurable that the time can be changed on it and then when it gets to that time it will go in and start flashing and some other one with date and time. So do you not see a use for that particular one or you just hadn’t explored that or?
Chad Kennedy (39:58):
Well we use the one for parts. We don’t use the countdown one. I’m in the city basically 20 minutes for all parts and it’s not 20 minutes. The car’s going outside honestly. So we don’t use the delivered in 20 minutes an hour or something like that. We would probably, and I guess this is just a different way of how we do it. Let’s say the pars come in and it’s going to be two hours because they get a drive service to get it. We actually send a chat to all three people involved, the technician, so the service manager production and the tech would just have a chat saying this part’s going to be two hours.
Bill Connor (40:37):
So you send that by a chat. So you do that rather than using the one down here where it says a technician note where you can enter this information here and it will just pop up and kind of show there.
Chad Kennedy (40:52):
It the, the only reason we don’t use it that way and we did use it that way, the service advisor may miss it. So let’s say if you’re the production guy and the part’s not coming for two hours, if he just sends a note, all three people are immediately notified. The tech can decide himself if he wants to put it out in service advisor before they’re calling the customer knows that they’re not going to miss it in a chat. If you put it just on a logo there, they could overlook it. But if you write it in a chat, I think it’s more likely that nobody’s going to miss it.
Bill Connor (41:28):
So in that case you would go ahead and send it in with a vehicle chat?
Chad Kennedy (41:31):
Yeah, right there. So right there if you look at the top, if you write something there, all three of the people involved in that car are going to get a message saying it. We did use tech notes fine. I think when the original work order is going out to somebody to say hey, make sure you check the notes but in the middle of a work order, I wasn’t a fan of it because I think it can be overlooked more by service advisor other than technician.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (42:07):
Cool. How are we doing on time? Because we wanted to talk about all the productivity boosters as well like chat and we already started. So for me a big question is chats if not immediately responded to have a tendency to be forgotten. How important is read receipt for you that you know that the other person has read it and is my concern valid or it am I overthinking it?
Chad Kennedy (42:53):
No, not at all. I actually made it my last meeting, I made it mandatory and I know the check marks are there, but no matter what, when you write a chat you have to put a symbol up that you received it or read it, acknowledge it. I don’t care what it is, just say thumbs up, do whatever you want. I see. It’s extremely crucial. I don’t even like the thumbs up saying they read it because sometimes they just graze it and don’t really take it in. I made them answer and say acknowledged.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (43:22):
Chad Kennedy (43:24):
Because we did have a few problems where people, it looked like they read it, they did in an hour later you’re running to get a par that didn’t show up or something like that. But I made it more that everybody is more following the chat every time and I’m pushing it all the time because it keeps everybody in the loop. But if you don’t answer the text you still have that doubt. Did somebody read it or did they not read it? I see the check mark but did they do anything about it?
Uwe Kleinschmidt (43:52):
Bill Connor (43:53):
That brings up a question. Should the responses rather than them typing in, should they go ahead and be able to choose a response from the list?
Chad Kennedy (44:01):
Yes, we had that before, correct. So it would be handy for both sides saying parts being delivered tomorrow, just whatever generic you things that you’re writing continuously all the time.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (44:20):
Cool. And that brings up the difference between a chat and a task. Often somebody has something to do about it, maybe it’s better a task then a chat is more an update about something or an announcement or it’s a fact you exchange but there’s no action coupled to it.
Chad Kennedy (44:52):
We use tasks more as, and it could be done next week. Chats more as like I need this an answer to this now
Uwe Kleinschmidt (45:00):
I see
Sara Savio (45:02):
I use the tasks regularly and I will set them for myself a reminder to give the customer a call at x, y, z time as opposed to having 30 alarms set on my phone. I try to do my follow up calls at 10 and two o’clock. But if I’ve got to get back to a warranty company or if I have to call somebody else that’s involved in the work order or call back to order that part, whatever the case may be, a task is very easy for me to set up and something that I can set up for myself or my production manager. So tasks are good for absolutely. I guess managing your time and making,
Bill Connor (45:52):
So have they taken the place of the yellow post notes you used to have surrounding your
Sara Savio (45:56):
Monitor? Three of them, yes.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (45:58):
Oh, you’re still a post
Sara Savio (45:59):
Notes? I do, I do. I
Uwe Kleinschmidt (46:02):
Do. Would you mind sharing what you’re still using for?
Sara Savio (46:08):
No, I would not. I mean yes I would mind usually just little things that I follow up on and I say that because I also do a little bit of follow up for our other fulsome location. So if there’s an estimate that I’m working on for future repairs, those types of things or a vendor that I need to contact, those are what I use. Just my little post-it notes for. But I try to peel them off daily and make sure they’re not all the way around the monitor. Just keep it to the bottom row.
Bill Connor (46:47):
So Uwe we’re getting toward the end of the time here so it wouldn’t be a bad thing to go and get a summary from each of them. What are the top three things that they would like a shop owner just like them to start using these tools for?
Uwe Kleinschmidt (47:03):
Yeah, so if you wouldn’t mind Sara and Chad talk about for people who either haven’t used it or just use it based on they find the chat and use the chat for most of the things, how would you recommend using smart markers versus chat?
Sara Savio (47:31):
Well smart markers are going to either one, attach an inspection or a job to the tile so that it’s a visual for everyone. Your markers, you can make them permanent markers for your wheel locks so you know where something consistently is going to be. Anytime that vehicle comes in, your markers on your TVP can also organize you make sure that you’ve got that added layer of accountability and your chat. Vehicle wise is are things that are specific to the vehicle, information back and forth between the technician and the advisor or the production manager that are going to apply only to that vehicle. Your group chat can be that call out. We’re having a shop meeting and anything where everybody who has access to the TVP needs to be involved and it’s just there are additional communication and organizational tools that we have right here at our fingertips
Uwe Kleinschmidt (48:37):
Is really in what, five minutes?
Chad Kennedy (48:41):
Pardon? I couldn’t hear you.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (48:48):
I said Chad. The feature chat, is that in what, five minutes or when is it? I assume chat is something you expect to be taken care of immediately kind of. Is that true?
Sara Savio (49:07):
Uwe Kleinschmidt (49:10):
So it cannot linger And do you go back and remind somebody of a chat from two hours ago probably. Is that rare or does it even happen?
Sara Savio (49:22):
If I’m waiting for an answer and haven’t gotten an answer, I will just question, question, question, send, question, question, question, send, question, question, question send. I’m pretty persistent so I see when I ask a question I’m not asking it because I need an answer. So there has to be the urgency and talk about it in your meetings, make sure everybody’s on board, making sure that everybody understands what the process is and one of Uwe’s favorite words, why that’s going to get you your buy-in technicians need to know why you’ve got the markers, why you’re chatting them and that’s just going to help.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (50:10):
Thank you. Chad, what would your recommendation be to a newbie?
Chad Kennedy (50:19):
Obviously you can tell I like ’em. Set up the jobs because I think it avoids confusion of jobs being handed out to the proper tech technicians and we’ve all handed the wrong job to the wrong tech a few times like a check engine light or something. So myself, I thought it was a huge help is in just being efficient and productive, making sure the right tech so you’re not giving because if you give the wrong job to the wrong tech, half the time they bring it in and start doing it and you’re like, oh no, why is that guy doing that? Right? And you’re doting the way the job was. D to chats are special markers in that way is probably the biggest thing for me. The chat I think, and we just implemented this just very recent that because every time I’d walked through the shop somebody would say, Hey, I need a ZOS gasket or something like that.
And my direct word every time is send it through as a chat. We have four people on the front end and one of them is not doing anything and I’m probably busy so somebody can handle that job in a chat a lot easier than you yelling it across the shop. And then I get in the office, totally forget about it and it does get done. It sits there on a chat and four people got it on a chat. One guy writes, I did it, that’s it. Then it’s done and sent the parts go into the tech. I think task the biggest thing, we don’t use it a lot honestly, we probably should use it more, but I’m basically the only person who use it as the owner because if I see a credit problem or somebody’s not doing the returns right, I’ll set a task up that says make sure you do returned by Friday. Something that’s not urgent. Anything in a chat is more urgent to me. Okay. Yeah. But special marker to me, a mind boggled that people wouldn’t use them the way I do. I look at it and I can’t imagine looking at my start of the day and not knowing what a repair is, when they say five hours, it could be five hours of easy work or it could be five hours of really difficult work and a smart worker, a quick glance lets you know what’s going on in the day.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (52:16):
Cool. And obviously it’s also a function of your car count, right?
Chad Kennedy (52:22):
No, absolutely. I would say I could see that Sara had more head gasket jobs and guys have 20 hour jobs, completely different shop, different way of running things and you check everybody else in. So that wouldn’t be as needed as it is in my shop, right? My shop, I walk in and I don’t have a clue what any of those cars are for. When I look at a special marker on a big screen, I can see every job and what it’s for and who’s in for what that day. At a quick glance that way as the owner and I’m not really in the production manager or service manager and I see somebody out in a lot, it’s nice to know I know what their cars in for and if I walk in and look at the screen I can almost tell you all 30 customers what they’re in for that day. Pretty quick and easy.
Bill Connor (53:10):
Smart markers are something that has to be highly visual and it may need to be known at more than one time throughout the service visit. The chat is something that needs to be tended to right now, that needs to be responded to. And then you’re using for the task for something that’s specific that needs to be done, but maybe five, 10 minutes or days, weeks or months in the future.
Chad Kennedy (53:32):
Bill Connor (53:40):
All vision. Awesome.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (53:41):
Awesome summary. Thank you. Wow. Time flew.
Bill Connor (53:47):
Yeah it did. So I’d like to personally thank both of them for attending today and sharing their wisdom. I’m sure a lot of people can go ahead and benefit from the things they’ve had to say. I’d definitely like to go ahead and encourage people to register and join us live by going to We can also be heard on your favorite podcast platform by searching for the digital shoptalk radio. Listen to us on your drive time and as always, I’d really like to encourage you to go ahead and find another shop owner or manager in your area that might be struggling a little bit. Go ahead and send ’em to Digital Shoptalk Radio to listen to or And we’re up at, this is episode 146, so all the prior episodes are all stored there and there’s a lot of wisdom that’s been shared by a lot of really progressive shop owners that are here ready to use. So ubi, you have anything else you’d like to say before we part other than happy Thanksgiving for everybody? Happy
Uwe Kleinschmidt (54:45):
Chad Kennedy (54:46):
Yes. Happy day too.
Bill Connor (54:50):
Awesome. So thank you guys. Have a great day. Go make some money and go wow some customers. Thanks
Chad Kennedy (54:56):
For having me. Take care guys.
Bill Connor (54:58):
Bye. Take care.

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