Evaluating the Effectiveness of Repair Order Processing

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The cost of processing a repair order can vary considerably depending on the complexity of the work to be performed as well as a number of other factors. A very simple repair order can take very few relatively small steps while a complex order can take many steps. Continuous evaluation of each step in the process as well as the transition between steps will maximize profits and ensure customer satisfaction.

Order Taking

The initial step is to determine the repair requirements. This can take place in a number of ways. But the first possible step is a quote and/or appointment. At the very simplest extreme, the person’s name with the date and time they’ll arrive are recorded in a manually handwritten log. Using this method, there is no visibility of the repairs required or the resources required to complete them. This information is not known until the vehicle actually arrives. At the other end of the spectrum the owner, vehicle and required repairs are recorded in a computerized shop management system when the appointment is taken. In many cases an estimated price and hours required to complete the repair work can be provided at that time. When the vehicle arrives the required repairs need only be confirmed and the customer can be on their way. Sometimes required parts can be sourced or ordered in advance and visibility of hours required for technicians and bays can be valuable in terms of planning. Advance preparation and planning can make the entire order process run more smoothly and efficiently. It can reduce cost by eliminating duplication of effort and foster positive customer relationships. This is the customers first impression of you and your business.

Diagnosis/Estimating

Most repair orders involve some type of diagnosis work. At the very least, a safety inspection is done or tire pressure is checked. A common practice at this stage is for a technician to use a check list and handwrite findings and recommendations on it then return it to the service advisor. The service advisor does any necessary estimating then contacts the customer for approval. An automated approach is to have the technician work from a computer screen and electronically enter diagnosis, findings and recommendations. Then the service writer can view them on the screen, make any necessary changes and pricing updates then contact the customer for approval. The automated approach can save a considerable amount of time and streamline the interaction between service advisor and technician.

Approval

Customer Approval can take place one or more times during the processing of a repair order. Contacting the customer is a very important factor to consider. It’s important to know the customer’s preferred method of contact but is equally important to have alternate contact phone numbers and email addresses. Having to make multiple attempts or having the customer contact you to see what the status is affect efficiency and customer satisfaction. Also, asking for more than one additional approval after the initial one is not optimal so doing a thorough inspection and diagnosis up front is important. Having the necessary information readily available and being prepared before contacting the customer and reviewing it will save time and present a better image.

Order Fulfillment

Performing the actual repairs on the vehicle is the reason everything else takes place. All other activities and order processing steps support this part of the cycle. Being as efficient and effective as possible in the performance of the actual repair work is critical. Preparation and planning to make the best use of work space and technician time are critical to profitability and customer satisfaction.  

Quality Assurance

Quality assurance in auto repair involves confirmation that all intended results were achieved. Premium quality assurance includes both constructive testing and destructive testing. Constructive testing confirms that all necessary requirements are met. Destructive testing involves attempting to cause a malfunction related to an area affected by the repair work. As in any other step, preparation and planning will ensure more effective testing. Listing each test to be performed with the expected result then recording the actual result is a technique employed by many quality assurance professionals. This step can make all the difference in delivering quality service to the customer.

Vehicle Delivery

Delivery of the vehicle to the customer is the final step in the process. Every effort should be made to make this experience as easy as possible for the customer. This is the last time you’ll interact with them and may make the difference in whether or not they return.

Conclusion

The effectiveness of repair order processing should be continuously evaluated and improved. This is the core process in any repair or tire shop and improvements that result in cost savings and increased customer satisfaction

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