Service Advisor Talk

What Service Advisors want to know, need to know and want to tell you.

Explore the New AutoVitals.com!

I am happy to announce that AutoVitals.com went to the best and most trusted shop in town and received a Tune-Up. We have taken this step to create a platform for collaboration among all of you who care about this industry and experience the impact of  the internet as liberating and rich with opportunity. We’d like to invite you to review our AutoVitals University approach, which gives everyone the ability to participate. You can be an AutoVitals client or not, we welcome everybody, who likes to learn and share. Please explore our site and stay tuned for more exciting extensions. Dear AutoVitals clients: Creating the new website required us to move your dashboard to shop.autovitals.com. All bookmarks, icons on your dashboard and links are still working. All you need to do is logging on again with your user name and password. Thank you for your understanding. Uwe Kleinschmidt...

Online Communication Beyond the Counter – Social Search for Auto Repair Shops Part 5

Is the customer interaction at the counter related to the effectiveness of an online campaign? Can messaging to the customer be automated? Can the service adviser be replaced? Watch this recipe for success when leveraging the counter experience in your online communication. Mitch and I explore the potential for local businesses to amplify the effectiveness of his online campaigns. Please leave your comments and questions. Read about this ephiphany we discovered about online communication in customer relationship when talking to our daughters. Find out how to use our service leveraging Google based social search in customer retention....

Looking Up Our (Car’s) Vital Signs

We buy cars with the expectation that they function properly all the time. Feed it some gas from time to time and everything is going to be fine. We go about our business every day and expect our body to function flawlessly. Feed it the right solids and liquids from time to time and everything is going to be fine. No big deal. Nothing to talk about. Right. Really? Both our body and car have great self-sustaining mechanisms built in, which do not let them fail at the slightest hick-up of the system. Think of a software constantly monitoring our cars’ and bodies’ vital signs. They work to make sure that in case they deviate from the normal range, the body (or car) either compensates for the problem or sends an alert as pain or as a check engine light. This is beneficial in the long run, since it makes the body and car as reliable as possible.  So why require a check-up then? Often the pain/engine light is only the last resort, and earlier detection may have eliminated the root cause, or at least its damage be minimized. We suffer from short breath caused by low fitness or low fuel-efficiency caused by carbon build up. And we only realize too late that we need to deal with diabetes or replace the whole set of spark plugs and more. How about we try to be preventive and listen to car and body experts taking our specifics (life-style and driving profile) into account when giving advice? Combine it with (the so much harder) listening to your body and car ourselves, and we should not only be in...

Preventive Maintenance Can Be Fun

Service advisors and car owner have the same goal: The car is ‘healthy’ – as in it keeps running all the time and provides the driver with the expected safety, driveability and reliability at the most effective cost possible. Right? Why would so many car owners push out the preventive maintenance until something bad is about to happen, and why would some service advisors recommend the same short service interval for any kind of vehicle and any driver behavior?  We thought why not add a little incentive, so it is fun and keeps car owner and service advisor on the same page.  Introducing the AutoVitals Loyalty Point System. “Really? What is new about a reward system? There are tons out there, what the heck are you talking about?” True, and although reusing all the known benefits of a rewards system, it adds a twist to it, which makes it perfect for auto repair shops. Most rewards system on the market operate with discounts based on money spent and some even let car owners keep the points when switching to other shops. In other words, the higher the amount of money spent on a repair, the more points or the higher the discount. We find this a little odd and  think adherence to the service schedule proposed  and the jobs recommended should play a crucial role, since a healthy car is the mutual goal, isn’t it? Below you see a typical configuration for a shop using the AutoVitals Loyalty Point System. All parameters can be controlled by the shop in question, such as: how many points for which action, how much is a point...

More Than A 1,000 Words

One of the most effective ways to illustrate complex issues is by using images or videos, accompanied by a brief but crisp description of the issue. Having to explain the details of a malfunctioning car part can often be made highly effective, simply by sending the image pointing out the problem, or even contrasting it with one showing a properly functioning part. Additionally, a student’s parent or a third party person trusted by the car owner needs to be involved in the decision about the repair proposed by the service advisor. Thus, the better the documentation about the issue at hand the more effective and reliable the decision-making process. What if the technician, who uncovered the problem during the inspection, could just take a picture with his cellphone and make it available to the service advisor – to be easily sent to the car owner? We  made exactly this available to all AutoVitals shops. The  technician takes the picture with his cell or smart phone and enters the license plate number as subject line of the message. Then he sends it to [email protected], and the service advisor will have the picture attached to the vehicle in question on the Today’s Vehicle Page . He can add more information for the car owner as image description, print the estimate so it gets attached to the vehicle, and click on “Email Estimate”. Done. The car owner, and if needed – more recipients – will receive the email with the estimate and picture so that a decision can be made quickly with all the important information at hand. A few clicks made it happen, no uploading from...

Sending Effective Emails To Car Owners

Electronic communication has been wide-spread, and sending out emails from the shop management system to the car owner is a well-known capability. It seems as though that using it for sending out initial or updated estimates meets a lot of resistance by service advisors. Many service advisors prefer the verbal communication on the phone in order to make sure the complete value of the offering can be made clear to the car owner.  Looking at an estimate  and getting focused on the cost and not on the value behind the service is common among car owners. But does it mean that estimates or inspection findings should not be sent by email? We at AutoVitals are trying to add additional information to the email so the car owner can focus on value over cost. We have been implementing features, which help the service advisor to answer effectively the two questions asked by the car owner the most: Why should I do the service or repair now? What happens if I don’t do it? It is indeed sometimes challenging to get the answer to these questions across via email only containing the estimate. AutoVitals has introduced “Educational Topics” and “Share Car Pictures” to effectively add value to the estimate emails. As soon as an estimate is printed, using any available shop management system, AutoVitals will show the vehicle in question on the so-called Todays Vehicle Page (image  below), which offers all  actions for effective communication to car owners. In order to add additional information complemented by images, “View/Attach Images”  is selected first. Uploading an image taken with a smartphone or digital camera and adding...

The (Not So) Secret Sauce, part I

Service advisors use AutoVitals’ dashboard to get real-time feedback on their Customer Relationship Management stats. Thus, they can make sure the electronic link to car owners is used effectively and for the benefit of both the customer and the shop. Mitch Schneider – long time industry expert, shop owner, book author, and writer of many inspiring industry magazine articles – invites service advisors to engage in a conversation and exchange recipes for success adjusted to the individual shop situation, based on these stats. The stats monitored concern email address collections rates, the customer satisfaction index, review activity and appointments made at pick-up and many more. We listed below a selected group of initial questions and answers between Mitch and service advisors in the AutoVitals network. Enjoy! “What would you tell another shop owner if they asked what you were doing to achieve the success you are enjoying?” I would tell them we are a yes company.  Most shops think they are yes companies – but they are not – they schedule in oil changes when it’s convenient for the shop and not for the customer.  In my opinion that is a no.  Also, it’s important to take in every small job like batteries and flat tires.  If you take care of someone’s flat tire, then they will remember you when they need service done. We have increased our sales 20% from 2009 just by saying yes to every customer. “You must be using a variety of advertising channels. Please let me know what is working best for you.” Our three top sources are referrals, yellow pages and the internet (courtesy of AutoVitals).  We get many customers who say they saw all our reviews and wanted to give us a try.  Most turn out to be really high-quality customers. “Have you tried to schedule at pick-up? If you have, what is the reason your...
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