We are all very much aware of the distrust some of our clientele has for the automotive repair industry. This is a result of decades of fraudulent practices by a select few people in our industry. Unfortunately, it is very hard to gain that trust back. Now, we all know that some of this is simply people not wanting to spend money. It is like going to the dentist, we know we have to, but it adds insult to injury when you also have to pay for an appointment you really didn’t want to have to begin with.
So how do we overcome this distrust? We educate our customers and make sure they understand the reasons for the repairs. I believe the old saying is, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” We are very fortunate that we live in an era of technology. This has given us the ability to have cell phones and the immediate ability to reach our clients. With so many mobile devices available, it makes communication in both verbal, written, picture, and video extremely easy. By using a digital inspection system, you can communicate with them very quickly and also illustrate to them the reasons for the needed repairs to their vehicle. You can fully explain and document the reasons why they need to repair their vehicle with complete transparency. They can even share with someone close to them that can help them to understand.
My service writers communicate almost exclusively with our clients through text messages. The reason being the fast response rate. Take a moment and think, if a person is in a meeting or some other situation that they can not speak on the phone, it is going to take until they have an open opportunity to speak with you. Also, as people are so busy today, they may simply forget to return the call. But by texting, they can communicate with you when they would normally not be able to. Typically, almost instantly. Think about how quickly you answer your text messages.
With digital inspection tools, you can add notes, measurements, pictures, and videos. This will give you incredible credibility and transparency with your client to increase their trust level in you. Furthermore, some of the systems allow you to classify the repairs as safety, needed, and recommended repairs that way your client can easily understand the importance of having the repairs made. Also, you can explain the order in which the repairs should be made. If the repairs are not all completed at this visit, it is an easy way for them to look back and see which repairs still need to be completed. Yes, all of this may generate questions, but I would much rather have a client who fully understands the job than one who leaves the shop with questions. They will typically be an easier sale if they fully understand why.
The benefits of digital inspection tools
Let’s talk about some more of the benefits that you will experience. First and foremost, you will no longer have to struggle with trying to read your technicians' handwriting. No more estimating mistakes due to misread checkout sheets. A more professional-looking vehicle checkout. Some of the digital inspection tools can also be dictated to, meaning no more misspellings and better wording by your technicians. Nowadays, as younger techs come into the field, many times they do not have a good inspection process for looking the vehicles over, this lends itself to missed items and more importantly missed revenue and potentially an upset client. With digital inspection tools, you will have one checkout process for all of your technicians in the shop.
Levels of inspection tools
Now that we know some of the benefits, let's start to talk about the different levels of inspection tools. Almost all the tools on the market have some sort of customizable features. Some can only handle sending the inspection report, others will be integrated into your management system, and in some cases, they are fully integrated into your management system. When they are fully integrated you can also send estimates directly to your client. Some of the better inspection programs will also accept payment. You can have a complete client experience with better information exchange than if you were in person. Think of the money you will save on paper, ink, and toner by going digital.
Yes, it is going to take your technician more time to do the inspection and fill out all the notes, but you are going to see as they get more and more used to it that the time will come down. Your clients will be happier and more educated and typically your average dollar per ticket is going to increase as a result. A little bit of investment in time by your technician goes a long way in the end.
Picking your digital inspection tool
There are many DVIs on the market from Bolt on Technology, Kukui, Mitchell 1 / ShopKey, Auto Vitals, and more. How do you decide which one is right for you? I strongly recommend you find out which ones will fully integrate with your management system first. Once you have determined that, spend some time on the internet to see what type of feedback people have on the digital inspection system you are interested in. Many of the systems have multiple levels of operation, make sure that you are clear about that when speaking with a representative from the company. Finally, you should be able to schedule time with the representative to have a virtual demo of the system.
When it comes time to institute it in the shop, have a team meeting at lunch and roll out the new system. Be excited about it. Your enthusiasm will help your team have more of an open mind. Give a demo, or have the company representative give the demo. That way all of your technicians will be on a level playing field. Give them some time to get used to it, but be clear to them on how you expect them to use it. Make sure you explain the benefits, such as, if they are generating a higher average ticket, it will positively affect their income.