skip to Main Content

Episode Description

Learn the strategies Adam Bendzick (Pro Service Automotive Repair), Christopher Petersen (Northwest Automotive), and John Long (Schertz Auto Service) use to manage the back of their shops from their front desks. How do they use The Digital Shop platform features, such as automatic status updates, paperless work dispatch, and real-time technician progress updates in order to increase Technician and Service Advisor productivity while creating a better customer service experience?

Episode Transcript

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

Tom Dorsey (00:00):
I got a great show for you, episode 10, Wednesday, April the 10th, and today we’re going to be talking about workflow management and Workflow Operation Secrets from some guys that really helped us write the book on how to use the digital workflow management tool with AutoVitals and implement that in their businesses to hit some goals, increase productivity, increase efficiency, and then increase customer satisfaction and I’m sure return visits. So I’d like to introduce our panel today. I’ve got John Long joining us. John, say hi and tell us a little bit about you.
John Long (00:41):
Hello everyone. I’m John Long. I am one of the partners at Schertz Auto Service just outside of San Antonio, Texas. We have a pretty good size new shop on it, so we’re just trying to fill it up and ready to rock and roll.
Tom Dorsey (00:57):
Awesome. Welcome John. And we’ve got Christopher Peterson. Chris, say hi and tell us a little bit about you.
Christopher Petersen (01:04):
Howdy folks. Christopher Peterson up in Kalispell, Montana. I own and operate Northwest Automotive. I’ve owned it for four years now. We’ve been open for 24 years. Yeah, we’ve got a nine bay shop up here in the beautiful northwest Montana.
Tom Dorsey (01:24):
Awesome. Welcome, and Adam Bendzick coming in from Pro Service Automotive. Adam, say hi. Tell us a little bit about yourself and what brought you to this radio show today.
Adam Bendzick (01:36):
Absolutely. Hey guys. Adam Bendzick, Pro Service Automotive, Prior Lake, Minnesota. We have an eight bay shop here brought in just to talk about the workflow and what we like about our shop, what we’ve been using with AutoVitals and that whole deal, so happy to help out.
Tom Dorsey (01:51):
Awesome. Welcome Adam. And if you guys have been following us on the Facebook forum, which you should be doing because where else are you going to get about 3000 guys with this caliber in there, chewing the fat and helping each other be successful. These three gentlemen here really lead a lot of the discussion, especially when it comes down to some of these more complex and challenging kind of topics like workflow management and so it’s a perfect show panel here for you today. Make sure you got a sharp pencil because you’re going to be taking lots of notes. We really want you to be able to get some ideas, learn some stuff here today and go in and implement it whether you’re brand new to the program, whether you’ve been using it for years and you’ve kind of been ignoring that workflow management tab and you operate out of the tech screen or you’re looking to come onto AutoVitals and trying to see what it’s all about, these three guys are going to be able to answer a lot of those questions and help you to make that decision on how that workflow management’s going to be able to benefit you.
And so what I’d like to start guys off with is workflow management’s kind of a broad term. Some guys think it just means I know what cars are in the shop today, whereas other shops, I’ve seen everything from whiteboards that take up half the back counter and even a full-time employee in there just kind of racing and rewrite and stuff all day trying to herd those kittens. Adam, what did you do before digital workflow and what have you seen and how have you been able to implement the digital workflow to reach those goals that you were trying to do on the paper system?
Adam Bendzick (03:35):
Absolutely, so when we were using the paper system, what we’d end up doing is creating a work order, just a printed work order. The guys would take it back, diagnose a vehicle, whatever it might be, their work was printed on there and then they would hand write their notes. We had bins for ingoing, outgoing jobs, completed jobs just arrived, that type of deal. And there was a lot of that exchange or handoff happening and that’s where we started to go to AutoVitals. It was probably like four or five years ago I think I met with Tom the first time to get assigned up and that was on account of my wife finding it through to Wrench, which was just a great program to start with. It fit into exactly what we’re trying to do. We were doing somewhat digital inspections beforehand. We had an Excel spreadsheet that was built and we could attach pictures to that and it was kind of communicating from the back shop to the front shop that way. But the whole process of the paperwork order and that whole deal, that was all handoff bins in bins out and that’s helped tremendously. What we felt like we did physically before with just walking back and forth is now completely digital and that’s probably the biggest thing. It’s created a lot of no more paperwork clutter, but then also the efficiency is up because of it.
Tom Dorsey (04:52):
Yeah. Chris, are you having the same experience over there?
Christopher Petersen (04:57):
Yeah, I mean pretty much to a tee. Clipboard and repair orders and we had designated slots on the wall where to hang them as to what was going on with ’em. I knew before I bought Northwest Automotive that I wanted to go digital and I had actually been researching that for probably a year prior to me buying the company. So AutoVitals was a foregone conclusion for me. I knew that was within the first couple of weeks of buying the place, that was going to be the first thing we implemented and it was, it’s made such a huge difference in the way this company is ran. But I’ve got years and years of experience working at dealership level and I can’t believe there’s so many, especially with dealership, they have way more funding and whatnot than a lot of us smaller shops do that they’re not on board with digital workflow and digital inspections. They’re in the stone age still.
Tom Dorsey (05:56):
Yeah. Yeah. We’re just beating ’em to the punch. We’re nimble navigators. We’re fast.
Christopher Petersen (06:02):
They’ll catch on sooner or later, but
Tom Dorsey (06:04):
Exactly. Hey, so John, a question for you is a lot of times I hear guys and they just think that their operation isn’t big enough, right? It’s like, oh, workflow management or using this kind of digital technology doesn’t really apply to me because I’m a three bay or I’m a two bay, I only got two techs, whatever it might be. What would you say to a guy like that who thinks that they don’t need the help with the workflow management because of their volume?
John Long (06:30):
I would say the biggest thing is can whatever you’re doing now pass a hit by bus test? That means if you go out and you get hit by a bus, can somebody else step in and figure out what’s going on? If not, then you’re going to need some sort of workflow management system. And that’s what we’re using with AutoVitals.
Tom Dorsey (06:50):
Yeah, and like you said, one of the funniest things, I forget where I was. I was out in the shop one time and I was watching, oh, actually I know where it is. I’m not going to say the guy’s name though. I don’t want to embarrass him, but they had a big old whiteboard up and it was right next to the door to the bays and they’d get packed behind the counter and I’m standing there and I’m actually helping ’em out. They were just getting AutoVitals installed and tech comes in and it’s kind of packed. Service advisors just stand there and he brushes along the wall and he wipes out half of the guy’s whiteboard and they freaked out. They didn’t know what to do, and so then they kind of shut down and everybody’s going back there trying to rewrite everything that was on that whiteboard because they dispatch shuttle drivers off of it and all kinds of stuff and it just blanked it out with the back of his shirt.
John Long (07:35):
And that doesn’t pass the hit by bus test obviously.
Tom Dorsey (07:38):
Yeah, it didn’t pass the hit by the bus test.
Christopher Petersen (07:40):
That’s funny that John words it that way. When I’m training a new employee, especially anybody on the front end of things, I don’t use the hit by a bus, but I will start using that. But I always ask them, if you were to disappear right now, if you were to die, you were to get sick, you were to go home, would anybody else be able to just take over where you were at with that particular customer or that repair or is there going to be some confusion of, oh, was this part done? Was that not part done? Are we still waiting on a part? Did we get approval for this? At a glance, that information should already be in the system. And so once you start putting terms like that, it really helps with onboarding new employees. They understand the need for that information and making sure that they follow all their workflow steps.
Tom Dorsey (08:31):
So that’s an awesome point. And Adam, so great takeaway right there is that yeah, you can step right in and see what’s happening, then pick it up and execute. What about for a guy who, so tell us a little bit about setup. Do I need to make big changes to my process? Do I need to hire people to execute this? How would I go about starting to implement that so that I can get that benefit
Adam Bendzick (09:01):
To me, that will somewhat depend on size of shop, number of employees and this and that. When we first started with the AutoVitals, we just had two techs in the back, one service advisor and then my wife that came in part-time helped out with office work type stuff. So to go from that smaller shop to bigger shop and that transition, it can work for anybody, it’s just a matter of how you have to evolve within the company as you get more and more employees and more customers and so on and so forth. So when we had that one service advisor set up, it was myself that was building all the estimates, selling the jobs, answering phones, this and that. Well then you get into from a four bay shop to an eight bay shop and it’s just too much workload to handle. So what I’ve learned from John and Christopher both to their credit is the workflow side of it, not having so much just say a waiting for inspect column, then an estimate column, then a contact the customer work finish, like the base template that AutoVitals has.
We end up having 12 different workflow steps now and that was from Christopher. I think John is probably doing it now. And the three of us have kind of done a lot of networking with each other and we learned a ton from them and probably equally as them as well. For me, that’s helped a ton for sure is setting up that stage part of it. What I would recommend doing you do it from the inspection is what is your technician going to be touching first and make that as efficiently as possible and go through those steps. But your front office should be doing the same thing too. And so if you’re checking in the customer, then the tech is doing their inspection, then you are going to build an estimate. You should have those phases of what you would naturally be doing anyway trackable. So if you have that distraction, if you are hit by that bus so to speak, John had happened or maybe hasn’t had happened but could
Know where something left off and anybody that comes in there can pick up where you left off and see that. So for us, we ended up adding the service advisor production manager role. We started it a little bit last year and then kind of went away from it, but then back on, now that we’ve switched to ProTrac in February, we have gone with that straight service advisor, production manager role and it’s working well. It’s a different setup, but basically that production manager is building an estimate. The service advisor is handling the customer side of it. So they both have distinguished roles and I think the reason that it probably works the best for us and maybe for these guys, the shops as well is a point that one of my friends made that worked at Wells Fargo, he doesn’t work there anymore and the main reason that he doesn’t work there is he spent 50% of his day doing spreadsheets and budgets, Excel doing a lot of Excel spreadsheet type work to get the information ready to present to the customer and then he would talk to the customer the rest of the 50% of the day.
So he is kind of going back and forth between those two different roles, talking to customers, he’s like a straight up people person type guy, loves it, everything like that. Hated doing spreadsheets, wasn’t driven by it, just didn’t enjoy it at all. He had a coworker that loved doing spreadsheets, hated talking to customers. They sat right next to each other in two different cubicles and they went to their boss and said, Hey, I hate doing this. She loves it. I love doing this. She hates it. Can we work together as a team and have individual roles? Their boss said No, they continue to work there for a couple months and when you hate half your day and what you’re doing and you’re not driven off of it, are you going to continue to work there? No. So they both quit and I think at that point I was like, that really hit me.
I have guys that love coordinating work and building estimates and stuff like that and they’re driven off it. Do they like talking to customers? Yeah, they will, but do they really enjoy it? No, they would rather be managing that workflow. For me, I love talking to customers, so it just comes natural and I really enjoy it. So I’m doing that now and another guy’s building all the tickets and that’s really, really, really helped us. I think all of us are happier in the position that we do. So what I would suggest is get your order of your workflow set up, but then also consider what your people are doing and can you split up that workflow so that they all have stuff that they’re enjoying and maybe they’re more efficient with it as well.
Tom Dorsey (13:34):
That is right there. And that brings up a great point too is because once not only the power of our Facebook forum where Adam is able to learn from Chris and John and the other people up there talking about that. And then like I said, exactly what we’re trying to do here today is just get you to think about how can you do something different to improve your operation and then get kind of somebody to helping you along the way to get it implemented. And so to go from our canned workflow to a workflow that fits your shop is a great improvement and it shows the flexibility, but also once you can put each thing into those individual silos, you can start to measure ’em and if you can measure ’em, you can improve, you can start to shave off some time and improve efficiencies here so you can start to focus in on how to improve the customer experience at this touchpoint or this workflow step. If you guys could talk a little bit about how you were able to, once you developed your workflow, how you were able to fine tune that to get it to the level to where you’re operating at now. And if you could specifically talk a little bit about how some of the other things like special markers help to improve communication and give you the ability to communicate more effectively and just be more efficient. John, I’ll kick it off with you buddy.
John Long (15:00):
As far as the special markers, it kind of goes back to the hit by bus. You put a special marker on there that’s going to signify that this customer’s in a loaner car, you need that car today or this car’s due tomorrow. It’s unlimited to what you can do with those special markers. Just to kind of give a visual to anybody really. I’ve got my service advisor at the front counter can look at it and see what’s going on. My CSR can look at it and see, hey, okay, this car has to go today. What do we need to do to get this to happen? Same thing with my text in the back, my production manager. So it’s just more visualization of just what needs to be done with the car and anybody can look at it and see it
Tom Dorsey (15:43):
And it should give, I mean more higher visibility like visualization, like you said, communicates that information. And so what you should have seen is a reduction in the I don’t need to go back and tap a guy on the shoulder and interrupt him.
John Long (15:57):
Yeah, there’s no back and forth going back there and saying, Hey, I really need this car to go today. Or a service advisor can, Hey, is this car going to go today or we really needed it to go today. Well, there’s a special marker that we have put on there that yes, we are working on getting this car out today.
Tom Dorsey (16:13):
And Chris with the ability now to tag those special markers and then associate ’em to a vehicle, then you get kind of the same customer service experience every time they come in, Hey, we already know where the wheel lock key is. We don’t have to ask them for the 15th time, that kind of thing. How’s that benefiting you guys in your shop?
Christopher Petersen (16:30):
We absolutely love the special markers and we utilize them on every single car that comes through, whether it’s, yeah, you can see the promised out time on there, but when you’re dealing with 30, 40 open repair orders going through and having a look at each one of them, figure out where it’s, so you put a today marker on there or you put a waiter marker on there or you got a priority marker or hey, we all get ’em. You get a comeback marker on there, the big black comeback marker of shame. All of those things really help anybody at a glance. We have a monitor out in the shop as well so that the technicians can see exactly what the advisors see even though they get most of that information on the tablet. Some of it looks a little different, but it also helps them to be able to see what work we still have staged that maybe we haven’t dispatched out. So a technician can say, oh, I probably do need to pick up the pace because I see there’s five other cars that haven’t even been dispatched out and they all have today markers on ’em as well. So yeah, it really does. It really does help everybody stay on the same page.
Tom Dorsey (17:40):
Yeah, man. Well that’s just like having the scoreboard out on the field when we’re two touchdowns down in the end of the fourth quarter, we pick it up and if you can show the big picture to your guys and then they see where it’s at and what’s coming down the pike, then they’re going to be more productive, less smoke breaks, less trips to the coffee pot, whatever it is, but they just naturally get productive. Guys like to be on a team and guys like to compete. Right? You don’t want to be the last guy on that list if everybody can see it and it’s up there and Oh it
Christopher Petersen (18:09):
Does. It really helps because yeah, they can see each other’s paces and efficiencies and all of that. And I’m fortunate that I got a team that works really well with each other and I mean they’ll razz each other a little bit, but it’s all in good fun, no hurt feelings or anything like that. But I think it does help to motivate them. And I’ve seen in the past some shops will delegate one work order to a technician at a time. You get that one done, they give you the next one that way. And I understand the reason for that, but a lot of shops do it is because they don’t know which tech’s going to be available next. So instead of handing this tech three AROs and this tech three AROs, we’ll just hand ’em as they go. Well, the problem that I’ve seen with a lot of techs and myself included is, well, if I only got one to work on, I don’t want to be standing around all day, I’m probably not going to be as productive as I can. If all of a sudden I see, holy crap, I got 20 of ’em on my list that have to be done today, that’s going to light my own fire. And it also helps from a management standpoint, which employees aren’t motivated when you throw four or five AROs on there and all of a sudden you don’t see their pace pickup, you might have an employee that has a motivation or a training issue. So it helps in other ways.
Tom Dorsey (19:25):
Yeah. Well, and the nice thing about the TVP is that if you’re monitoring it, you see that happen, you can re-dispatch that work, make sure you hit that promise time and then use the business control panel or something to go have that discussion with that tech and just realign him with his goals.
Christopher Petersen (19:43):
Tom Dorsey (19:45):
Hey Adam, so tell us a little bit how that’s working out for you guys. Are you seeing a natural, like an organic increase in productivity just because if we’re all on the same page and we all kind of know what’s happening today, we can execute better.
Adam Bendzick (20:02):
So I think probably the biggest difference that we have with John and Christopher is, and we talked about it a bit, is that they use Tech View a little bit more than what we do. I don’t use Tech View at all. It’s not that it’s not a great product or anything like that, but we have the Workflow View screen up all the time, and our version of Tech View is a scheduler. And this is one thing that I know Uwe and AutoVitals has really been attempting to work on. There’s been different webinars regarding it, but I’m big on, I don’t want to see a tile after tile after a tile. I want to see, I got an 8 to 9, I got a 9 to 11, I got 11 to noon. And that’s what has helped us probably the most, more than anything is really keeping track of that time. Not so much as a quantity, but an individual, here’s 9 to 10, here’s 10 to 11, and I’ll be the first one to say, it’s not that it doesn’t change throughout the day and we have to adjust for it, but at the same time I have texts that come in there and be like, Hey, is my nine o’clock waiter here? Because they see that on the scheduler and that’s helps us more than anything. I feel like our shop,
If we didn’t have that, I would maybe have to have a couple extra techs, maybe another service advisor and this and that because we weren’t managing that time as effectively as I feel like we could with the way that we’re doing it. So if there was anything that I would maybe improve upon would be somehow making that happen, but it might be the impossible considering you’re trying to make it work for how many different shops as well. And so trying to get everybody on the same page from shop to shop is sometimes difficult too. But as far as the smart markers and everything, completely agree with that end of it marking a loaner car out, a customer waiting, this and that. That’s better for communication purposes for sure. But the one thing that we would add to it is that we keep track of our scheduler pretty tight.
Tom Dorsey (21:58):
So that brings up a good point because that conversation about the schedule has been going on for quite some time in the Facebook,
Adam Bendzick (22:05):
Right? Oh, two years probably.
John Long (22:06):
Yeah, I was about say I think we were involved in the original discussion. What about two and a half years ago? I think the three of us
Tom Dorsey (22:11):
Adam Bendzick (22:13):
We started to get to know each other a little bit. It’s like webinar John was somewhere where I think he’s on his phone and Christopher is back at his office or whatever, but I think that’s when we started to branch up and talk a little bit more as shop to shop about, Hey, how can we help make this scheduler happen or get progress put forward towards it? And truthfully, I don’t think the three of us really came to that conclusion, so
John Long (22:39):
No, we didn’t. Not at all. We even had Bill trying to moderate us and that didn’t work.
Tom Dorsey (22:45):
I need another hour on the show because, and actually that’s what I like about being able to do this radio show is because that’s the kind of conversation we want to expose. A lot of that stuff happens in Facebook, but you know what I mean? You guys all have a different opinion when it comes to the scheduler and even Adam just said about how he sets up and uses his workflow screens a little bit different than the way some other people do it and everybody’s got their own opinion, but really the power of that Facebook forum and being able to just discuss it and hash it out and pitch a battle almost, and then for AutoVitals, we have to find the middle. We have to kind of whittle it down to something that will be useful to, like Adam said, everybody, and that’s a fun discussion most of the time, right? Yeah, there’s a lot of opinionated guys out there when you market is a bunch of rugged individualist anarchists that everybody always knows what’s best for them and can’t see much past that. No, we’ve never had any run-ins on that face before, but all ever.
John Long (23:56):
No, not at all.
Tom Dorsey (23:57):
Not once.
Christopher Petersen (24:00):
Why is everybody looking at me?
Tom Dorsey (24:05):
I think you ran away for a while, didn’t you?
Christopher Petersen (24:08):
Yeah, I was off the forum for about a year
Tom Dorsey (24:12):
Get he, but you know what? At the end of the day it’s all good because it’s really about improving it and helping you guys so that you can give the best level of customer service, have the best operation, have your techs and your service riders as happy and productive as possible and lower your turnover and all of these things become apparent or evident once we have that type of a system in our shop. Let’s talk money. I mean, what has been the result for you guys? Is there something quantifiable that you can say, Hey, you know what, once I got this thing built out, I hit X or I’ve never been able to achieve this before, but I was able to do it and now my goal is 25 50% higher than that
Christopher Petersen (24:59):
Clue? Well, I would say when I implemented AutoVitals, and like I said, I did it within the first, it was probably six weeks after I bought the company, I didn’t make any other changes other than putting in the digital inspection workflow management. And we saw after, I mean there was a few other changes later on, but for the most part everything stayed the same for the first couple of years when we saw an increase in revenue in our first year and a half, we doubled the highest year that the shop had ever had prior to my owning it. Not really much had changed other than just having that workflow management, that ability to increase our efficiencies by tracking where we’re spending time or where we’re losing time. And you can definitely track that with that program.
Tom Dorsey (25:50):
Yeah, that’s incredible. And I mean it’s just committed to it. You got the tool there, you got to use it and you got to use it every day. Once you see the benefit, you shouldn’t put it down. How about you, John?
John Long (26:01):
Yeah, I would say yeah, we have, we’ve been with AutoVitals probably what, almost six years now, but it wasn’t until probably a year and a half ago when we really started using everything that AutoVitals had to offer as far as the workflow management and sending the digital inspections out. And once we did that, we went from a $1.6 million shop to 2.2 last year and right now we’re on track for 2.8. It’s just because we’ve got the same setup Adam has is we’ve got a production manager that’s building all the estimates, sending all the digital inspections out, so those service advisors are spending their time talking to customers and building that relationship with it. So just once we did that, that’s when we really took off
Christopher Petersen (26:47):
And we do it the same way our service manager does all the estimate writing and workflow management and the advisors just focus on the customer service and selling and yeah, I agree. It works really well to split ’em up that way.
Tom Dorsey (27:00):
I mean, right there it tells you if you’re out there thinking you can’t afford it, it’s too much work. I mean, what would you say Adam put in the work and I mean, we’re hearing some pretty good results.
Adam Bendzick (27:11):
Yeah, yeah. It’s not just going to happen without putting in the work for sure. It’s a tremendous program, but you have to have, your techs got to be on board with it. All of your employees have to be on board with it. For numbers sake, we went from 2016, we’re at seven 25,000 in sales. 2017 we went to 1.3 million and last year we finished up at 1.8. So in what, less than three year turnaround time, we more than doubled those sales and that’s great. We’ve seen a tremendous improvement. You have to think about hiring more people and so on and so forth. Obviously if that growth comes up, but I think your processes really have to be in place. What helped us as much as digital inspections have helped us is, okay, now that we’re doing digital inspections, now we should be estimating all of this work.
We should be just like, Hey, here’s a pretty inspection. It looks great. We can talk about it on a computer screen and everything like that. We can text it out and that’s phenomenal, but it’s what you do with that information as well. It’s a great tool, but if you don’t use that tool effectively, it’s not worth anything. So to me, that’s what you need to do. You need to be fine with the investment. There is some upfront cost in the tablets and training your staff and getting everybody on board, but it is 100% worth it when you get everybody on board and get, you see numbers increase and efficiency and jobs sold and conversion rates and everything like that. I mean, if you use that tool effectively, it is the best thing you can invest into.
Tom Dorsey (28:48):
I’m telling you. I mean you hear it right here, and these guys don’t have magic wands. It’s not Harry Potter. They put in some work. Hey listen, I got a question from the audience from the Musk actually, she should have been in here on this panel from Jody Nein and she’s asking about how much time do your service writers spend away from their desks?
John Long (29:12):
None. They were pretty much glued to their chair and their desk from the moment they get here until the moment they leave, just because there’s no reason for them to go anywhere. I, everything’s digital. We’ve got the communication between everybody within AutoVitals, between the techs and the service advisors or the production manager within our management system, protractor. We have a communication system in there to where the production manager and the service advisors can talk between it. So no one’s really leaving their desk, they’re spending that time pretty much there, unless it’s go to the restroom or get a cup of coffee and that’s it.
Christopher Petersen (29:53):
Yeah, it happens so infrequently at our shop that my office happens to be sitting between the service side of things and the actual shop itself. So if an advisor comes out and goes into the shop, they got to walk right by my door and it happens so infrequently that I’ll actually get up and I’ll walk out to find out why they went out there, the sky falling, what’s going on. Rare for an advisor depart
Adam Bendzick (30:20):
For me, it’d be just the customer part of it is, I think probably your question is like, okay, are they going back to the back shop to talk to the technicians or not? Or are they using the tiles and stuff and sliding workflow and assigning work correctly? And to me, to go to the back shop, the service advisors or the production manager, whoever it might be, they really shouldn’t be getting out of their chair to do that. We can handle that all within our computers, our tablets, and that communication device. I would say at the time that our service advisors are getting up out of the chair is just to shake a hand, talk about a vehicle for a waiting customer, somebody that’s there that way. We have touchscreen monitors that are off to the side of our service counter, and that’s helped a ton.
I pull up an inspection there. You can make a fluid sample a lot bigger where it’s a lot easier to look at. An oil leak almost jumps off the screen if you kind of zoom up on where that oil leak is coming from. So we stand side by side with the customer and not have that counter in between us and look at the inspection together as more of like a, okay, this is you and I, friend to friend looking at it and not so much, here’s a customer, here’s an employee, and the counter is a separation point. So that’s probably where they get up out of the chair the most would be in those situations.
Tom Dorsey (31:38):
Awesome. So we actually started getting a lot of questions here. We’re pushing up against time, but I want to get a couple of these answered because they’re pretty good. Tom from Hi Kat’s asking how many more service riders did you have to add to the front counter once you got to these volume increases that you guys are seeing
John Long (31:58):
Right now? Currently I’ve got two full-time service advisors and then I just hired on an assistant for those two service advisors. Then I have one production manager that’s handling all the estimating, writing up all the tickets, sourcing parts, and she’s handling production as well. Dispatching.
Christopher Petersen (32:17):
How many techs do you have, John?
John Long (32:19):
I’ve got seven techs.
Christopher Petersen (32:20):
Okay. Because that number is relevant when we discussing front end staff.
John Long (32:25):
Exactly, exactly.
Tom Dorsey (32:27):
That’s an incredible ratio for doing that type of volume.
Adam Bendzick (32:33):
We had three techs in the back before we increased when we had seven or 25, we had three techs, we have four now. So we didn’t have to double our staff to double our sales. It’s just that efficiency and assigning work and everything like that has what helped us a ton. We had myself as just the one service advisor kind of do what you’re all upfront staff person. We’ve added the production manager like John has, and then I have a upfront assistant that helps me. She’s kind of our director of first impressions type role, but I would like to train her into knowing a bit more about vehicles so she could potentially talk to them about inspections on a waiting oil change appointment. I would say we’re probably understaffed from a front staff standpoint and it would help to hire another service advisor so it wouldn’t be so busy, but I’m just really big on having the right people. We’ve tried to make it work with some that aren’t quite cut out for, I mean, you got to be to buy into this concept of AutoVitals. You have to have, your front staff has to buy into it too, and if they aren’t doing those things, you have to move on to the next person that will.
Tom Dorsey (33:41):
John Long (33:41):
Tom Dorsey (33:43):
So listen, I got one more question for you guys. How many walk-ins do you guys allow? You guys got these tight workflow, you got your schedule down, how many work are you allowing, John?
John Long (33:55):
It’s kind of a case by case basis as far as walk-in oil changes, we don’t do those unless I have a guy standing around like any walk-in oil changes, oil changes, they’re all scheduled. We have four time slots throughout the day that we schedule all of our oil changes. We don’t do any walk-in diag testing and inspect work. So it’s pretty much everything is scheduled for the most part. If someone comes in and says, Hey, I’ve got this problem with my car, I need to get it looked at. We’ve got several loaners that we can get ’em into or we use Uber to get ’em home, but we don’t really do any walk-in waiting stuff besides our four oil changes per day.
Tom Dorsey (34:35):
Awesome. How about you Chris?
Christopher Petersen (34:38):
We use the yes philosophy. Somebody asks if they can bring a car in. Yes, you can bring it in. Then we create the expectation,
John Long (34:46):
Christopher Petersen (34:47):
Yes, you can bring it in as long as you’re okay with dropping off or yes, you can bring it in and we just set whatever that expectations going to be. So one way to combat that and I think is really important, and a lot of shops don’t talk about this, is how do you schedule your day? Having been an advisor for a number of years, and again being with the dealership and watching how other advisors do it, a lot of times you would ask an advisor, Hey, are you busy? And he’d say, yeah, we’re slammed. We’re slammed. You go out in the shop and you ask the techs, are you guys busy? And they’re like, eh, we’re okay. Because there’s a difference in perception. What makes an advisor busy versus what makes a technician busy? If an advisor has 15 oil changes that he writes in a day, he might be busy or say 20 or whatever the number of ROS that he can handle, he’s going through the motions.
Every one of those ros, he’s got to go through the same motions. So it’s the same workload for him, whether it’s an oil change or whether it’s an engine overhaul, but that’s not the same for the technician. So what we try to do is we try to take and schedule 80% of what our shop is capable on average of producing a day because that 20% is pretty easy to fill up. You got your person that’s driving in from out of town, they broke down, or hey, how many customers call up last minute? I’m heading out of town, I’ve known about this trip for six years and I’m leaving tomorrow and I need breaks done in my car right now. So it’s easy to fill that extra 20% your upsales from your oil changes to your inspections that you’re doing. So that’s how we do it in order to accommodate those, Hey, can I bring it in right now and do an oil change?
Absolutely. Why? Because our existing customers already called a schedule with us. They know us, they’re going to create an appointment. It’s that new customer that doesn’t know how you do your work. So they’re only in the mood to get their vehicle worked on right then and that’s why they’re making that call or that’s why they stop by if you don’t accommodate the guy down the street’s going to accommodate. So we’re a yes shop. In fact, we’ve got these little notes, little labels right on the top of the monitors, all the screens. Yes we can, you bet, bring it on down. And we work that in that 20% and we just create that expectation.
Tom Dorsey (36:56):
You got to wow ’em and train them, right?
John Long (36:58):
Yeah, I think the key, what Christopher said is just set that expectation and be upfront with them regarding it and then that helps the customer understands if you set that expectation.
Christopher Petersen (37:09):
Adam Bendzick (37:11):
Yeah. Have loaner cars available, have something, be able to give ride homes, just stuff like that. And that’s another investment itself, but that’s an investment that generally pay for itself in time as well. Alright
Tom Dorsey (37:25):
Boys. Well we got to wrap, man, we’re late. These guys getting in hook out for me over here, but I really appreciate it. I’m
Adam Bendzick (37:32):
Going to calm down.
Tom Dorsey (37:36):
I’m hoping this is just episode one and we can get together and do this again. I think we got some more stuff to talk about. We really started getting into a lot of questions, started coming in on Facebook here towards the end, and we’d like to get an opportunity for you folks. We don’t want to ignore you. So let’s take it onto the Facebook forum. We’ll post those questions up there. We’ll let these guys engage with you and answer those questions on Facebook. And then we’ll plan to do this again here in the near future so we can get second round of this discussion done and help anybody out there that’s looking to go digital or looking to implement the workflow management tool. If you’re already started doing digital inspections, these guys are the gurus. So tune in again next Wednesday, 10:00 AM Pacific, 1:00 PM Eastern Time and we’re going to do it again just with different folks and we’re going to be doing, oh, it’s great topic. Why does AutoVitals force your service advisors to review tech notes? Because that’s not hot on the Facebook forum right now. We’ll talking that Wednesday. Don’t miss it.
Thanks a lot guys. Appreciate it man. Thanks.

Back To Top