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Transparency? Check! How a Digital Vehicle Inspection Checklists System Builds Trust While Addressing a Variety of Customer Concerns

With the right digital vehicle inspection checklists, your shop can build trust with customers no matter what reason they brought their car to your shop.

technician inspecting vehicle

So, you’re on the quest for the perfect vehicle inspection checklist? In order to find the right vehicle inspection forms for your shop, there are several factors that you may want to consider. For example, do you really need several carbon copy checklists? Or would your shop benefit by having one shop management system with a built-in inspection feature?

The purpose of vehicle inspections is to make sure your team is being thorough. Drivers place their trust in your shop’s trained and certified technicians to inspect their mode of transportation—what gets them to-and-from work, to-and-from their kid’s schools, and across the country to visit family. As they’re going about their daily ventures, your customers want to make sure they don’t encounter any hiccups that an inspection could otherwise shed light on.

Essentially, customers rely on you and your team to keep their car in safe, working order, so it’s important for your shop’s technicians to carefully inspect each vehicle that enters the garage. By carefully selecting your shop’s vehicle inspection checklists, you’re prioritizing your customer’s safety.

Vehicle inspections are vital to your shop and to your customers. An in depth, reliable, and efficient inspection process will help your team uncover any underlying vehicle malfunctions. And for your shop’s customers, they’ll have comfort knowing exactly what is wrong with their vehicle and why.

Although most drivers dread paying for repairs, a clear, transparent inspection gives them the answers they need to move forward and approve the work so that you and your team can get them back on the road safely.

Build Trust With Digital Vehicle Inspection Checklists

Trust plays an enormous role in getting customers to approve work, come back to the shop, and refer your shop to their friends and family. Unfortunately, your run-of-the-mill vehicle inspection forms don’t do much to build trust because they don’t allow for transparency into exactly what the technicians find wrong with the vehicle. Sure, techs can circle parts of a car graphic, check off that something is wrong, and scribble some notes, but that’s not the same as showing customers exactly what they found when they looked deeper into the issue.

You could build trust with customers by installing a glass window between your lobby and your bays, but that’s a pricey renovation that still leaves some distance between tech findings and how they translate to customers. Another option is to invest in tools that allow for a more transparent process.  

All repair orders begin with the estimates and the inspections. But rather than finding a transparency vehicle inspection checklist, consider focusing on everything surrounding the vehicle inspection checklist.

Building trust goes beyond the checklist itself. A modern vehicle inspection system should include features that facilitate shop transparency, like being able to attach photos and videos of the technician’s findings so that the customer can better understand what’s going on. And when you can email or text those findings, your customers will feel more at ease that their vehicle is in the right hands.

Bringing visibility into your vehicle inspection operations will result in customer’s approving repairs with higher certitude. According to a survey by Consumer Reports, car owners put a lot of faith in their chosen repair shops. In fact, 73% of car owners agree that they authorize whatever work their preferred shop recommends.

However, almost the same amount—68%—agree that they research recommendations before they approve the work. One reason why the majority of car owners want to do extra research during this stage is because they likely don’t have enough information on what exactly is going on with their vehicle, and in turn, don’t fully trust the shop’s word.

The fact that customer’s take extra time to do their own research or confirm the technician’s findings shows that many shops aren’t doing enough to build trust and be transparent between inspections and estimates. Customers crave more information in order to make a smart decision.

How Many Vehicle Inspection Checklists Does My Shop Need?

Vehicle inspection checklists guide your technician’s through each aspect of a given inspection so that no problem areas go unaddressed. Having a set list of points to check for each inspection will ensure they remember to look into each item listed. But before your shop gets started on inspections, you have to get down to the nitty-gritty of inspections: there’s not just one inspection that solves all situations.

So how many vehicle inspection checklists do you need? As many checklists as there are common reasons for vehicle owners to bring their cars to your shop. Some of the most common reasons drivers visit a repair shop include:

  • Check engine light is on
  • State inspection needs to be renewed
  • They notice a noise, vibration, or smell
  • Leaking fluids
  • Change in vehicle performance
  • Malfunction (AC not working, alignment off, etc.)
  • Electrical Issue
  • Maintenance

The problem with going with just one vehicle inspection checklist is that it either will be too narrow in scope, not accounting for all the above situations, or it’s so robust that your technician has to spend half a day checking every single facet of the car. Instead, it’s best to focus your inspection checklists to address specific customer concerns and what prompted them to bring their car into the shop in the first place.

Common Vehicle Inspection Checklists

Every shop has their own variations of inspections depending on the services they provide. For example, an auto body repair shop may check for scratches, dents, and cracks where a general repair shop will mostly inspect the belts, filters, fluids and everything else going on under the hood.

Vehicle inspection checklists can be divided into four categories: interior, under vehicle, under hood, and exterior. But keep in mind that if your shop does a multi-point inspection, it’s likely that your tech will tackle each of those categories.

Common Types of Vehicle Inspection Checklists

Inspection Type About The Inspection What Prompts The Inspection?
Fluid Inspection A fluid inspection is a checkup on a vehicle’s essential fluids, including engine oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, brake fluid, and differential fluid. Your customer is experiencing a leak or a specific problem related to their car’s fluid levels. For example, their AC isn’t working or their car is overheating.
Maintenance Inspection A maintenance inspection is a routine inspection to ensure the vehicle is in good working order. It‘s common for the maintenance inspection to be a part of regularly scheduled tune-ups (topping off fluid levels, monitoring tire tread, etc.) Your customer’s vehicle has reached a specific mileage and they want to be extra cautious before they exceed more miles. For example, maybe they’re going on a cross country road trip and want to ensure their car is in good working order before they hit the road.
Diagnostic Inspection/ Test A diagnostic inspection requires an on-board diagnostic check where you’ll use an OBD scanner to check for issues related to the engine, transmission, oil tank, throttle, and more when the check engine light is on. Your customer’s check engine light is on.
Exhaust Inspection An exhaust inspection will help uncover any potential exhaust system leaks or clogged catalytic converters. They can include inspecting everything from the manifold or headers down to the tailpipes. Your customer is experiencing an unusual odor or sound coming from their vehicle when they drive it.
Courtesy Inspection A courtesy inspection is a visual inspection of common components typically done during another repair. For example, a tech may check on a customer’s lights or wipers while they’re conducting an oil change or tire changeover. Your customer is getting a repair done on their car and your technician wants to double check that their tires aren’t low, their windshield wiper fluid is topped off, etc.
Multi-Point Inspections
Multi-point inspections are the most thorough types of inspections and can be titled “17 Point Inspection,” “25 Point Inspection,” etc. Many auto repair shops will choose to do multi-point inspections to ensure each area is accounted for during a vehicle inspection. They are usually prompted by one—or several—of the above prompts. Below is an example of a 30 point inspection checklist.
Under the Hood Safety Equipment Interior & Exterior Drivetrain Suspension
✓ Engine Oil
✓ Coolant
✓ Brake Fluid
✓ Power Steering
✓ Air Filter
✓ Drive Belts
✓ Hoses
✓ Battery
✓ Washer Fluid
✓ Seat Belts
✓ Airbags
✓ Horn
✓ Brakes
✓ Lights
✓ Wipers
✓ Floor Mats
✓ Air Filter
✓ A/C
✓ Engine
✓ Transmission
✓ Clutch
✓ Transfer case
✓ Driveshaft
✓ Fuel Lines
✓ Brake Lines
✓ Exhaust
✓ Shocks
✓ Ball joints
✓ Alignment
✓ Tires

Although these are some of the most common vehicle inspections, it’s important to remember that the way one inspection is conducted at one auto repair shop may be different than the way it is conducted at your shop. And what works when you first open your shop will look different years later when you’re expanding your shop.

Now that you know you need multiple inspection checklists, here’s why you should consider a system that lets you manage, create, and run them with ease.

What To Look for in a Vehicle Inspection Checklist System

When a vehicle owner is experiencing an issue with their car, it’s common for them to wait to bring it into the shop. According to a 2021 survey completed by Utire, the top reasons for delaying service and repair are as follows:

  1. 54.3% said they’re too busy to bring the car in
  2. 52.2% said they are unable to afford the repairs
  3. 34% said it isn’t urgent if it isn’t affecting the car’s performance
  4. 29.3% said they’d rather not be without their car for the length of repair(s)
  5. 17.8% said anxiety
  6. 13.4% said they don’t trust mechanics

If you were to take these statistics into account when you’re selecting your vehicle inspection checklist system, your list of priorities would look something like this:

  1. Find a vehicle inspection checklist system that fits into everyone’s schedules.
  2. Find a vehicle inspection checklist system that saves declined work so your customer can authorize priority work and come back for the declined jobs when they can financially cover them.
  3. Find a vehicle inspection checklist system that lets your technicians attach photos and videos to each inspection. This will shed light on the issues that a customer isn’t able to see for themselves or even notice when they’re driving.
  4. Find a vehicle inspection checklist system that seamlessly connects all moving parts of the repair process, from the customer to the technician to the service writer. This means the estimate, the inspection, the repair orders, the authorization, and the payment will all be interlinked, saving your shop’s team and your customer’s time.
  5. Find a vehicle inspection checklist system that boosts transparency. By showing your customer’s each step in the inspection process, each finding, what to prioritize and what can wait, you can reassure them that their vehicle is in the right hands.

When your technician completes a vehicle inspection checklist, and the service writer sends over the vehicle inspection reports, your customer should have a clear, easy-to-understand breakdown of the health of their vehicle. The vehicle inspection report should include what was checked and okay, what may need future attention, and what requires immediate attention.

With the right vehicle inspection checklist system in place, you can heighten your customer’s trust and hopefully lower your customer’s anxiety around their car troubles.  

How Do Your Vehicle Inspection Checklists Connect To The Rest Of Your Shop?

Your estimates, invoices, and inspections should all connect in your shop. If you’re using multiple methods or systems to send these out, you are missing out on potential opportunities for automation and losing time that could be spent fixing vehicles and servicing customers.

Types of vehicle inspection checklist methods and systems

  • Carbon copy vehicle inspection forms: although the carbon copy method is becoming less and less common, shop owners still buy them. It’s easy for shop owners to get used to using the same standard carbon copy, but this method can become unwieldy when you need to make a change to an inspection, and you don’t have the ability to easily go in and edit the template to your liking.
  • Printable vehicle inspection forms: printing out handy dandy vehicle inspection checklists and jotting down your findings is another method that is becoming less and less common. While printable vehicle inspection forms make it easier for shops to print out a variety of inspection checklists rather than be tied to a list on a carbon copy form, they still leave room for error due to the back and forth passing of papers, disorganization, and the potential for illegible handwriting.  
  • On-premise inspection/shop management system: on-premise vehicle inspection checklist systems are typically installed and operated from a shop management system or are a piece of software that can only be installed on a desktop tucked into one designated spot in your shop. With most on-premise systems, someone will have to run back and forth from the car to the computer to complete the vehicle inspection checklist. You can’t untether yourself from it.
  • Cloud-based inspection/shop management system: cloud-based (also referred to as web-based and cloud-hosted) vehicle inspection checklists are hosted on the cloud and can be accessed from a browser on a laptop, tablet, smartphone, etc and aren’t limited to just a desktop. Some cloud-based vehicle inspection systems are built into a cloud-based shop management system. With some cloud-based inspection systems, you can create multiple vehicle inspection checklists with just a few clicks, and the system will save them for you—both the vehicle inspection checklist template and the copy of the completed inspection.

Bring More Visibility Into Your Shop’s Inspections With a Cloud-Based Shop Management System

A study by Deloitte found that SMBs (small and medium-sized business owners) with advanced use of digital tools are:

5x more likely to reach new customers,

3x more likely to experience revenue growth, and

2x more likely to double profit

With those three findings in mind, of the four above options—carbon-copy, printable, on-premise, and cloud-based—which do you think is the right fit for your shop? If your answer is cloud-based, you’re correct.

Cloud-based shop management systems connect all aspects of the repair process. From the moment a customer brings their car in to the moment they authorize the repairs found from the digital vehicle inspection, your shop’s cloud-based investment will bridge the gap between the customer, service advisors, and technicians.

Investing in a cloud-based shop management system like Tekmetric means that you will get perks like a built-in digital vehicle inspection checklist system. You will also be able to:  

With a cloud-based system, shop owners can continue to work on the shop without having to be physically in the shop. While your service writers are servicing customers and your technicians are getting to work, you can keep an eye on things and determine the best business moves for your auto repair shop.  

Tekmetric’s Digital Vehicle Inspection Checklists and Vehicle Inspection Reports  

Digital vehicle inspections (DVIs) are essential in providing a modern and transparent experience to your customers. With Tekmetric’s DVIs, your technicians can conduct inspections on a tablet or a smartphone. To take it a step further, they can use their devices' cameras to quickly capture pictures of findings. By attaching images and videos to vehicle inspection reports, your shop’s customers will be able to see what’s wrong with their vehicle from wherever they are.

What Tekmetric’s Built-In Digital Vehicle Inspection Checklists Looks Like:

From Tekmetric’s vehicle inspection checklists, your technician’s can clearly see each item they need to look into, add their findings, and attach any corresponding videos and images. As your technician is going through the inspection, your service writers will see where the technician is at on the inspection in real-time.

Real-time status indicators are especially helpful if a customer calls in to check in on their vehicle’s status. Your service writer can quickly pull up their vehicle’s RO and say, “The technician is 75% complete with your vehicle’s inspection.” Having the ability to easily pull that up in just a few clicks will show your customer that your shop is on top of it.

Perks of Modernizing Your Vehicle Inspection Checklists

Digital vehicle inspections are becoming an industry standard, replacing the carbon-copy and printable vehicle inspection forms. Here’s how auto repair shops benefit when they use digital vehicle inspections:

DVIs Build Trust

By implementing a modern vehicle inspection checklist system in your shop, you can reduce and diffuse the skepticism that many customers have when they go through inspections and estimates. When a technician attaches an image of a dirty air filter or a video of a frayed serpentine belt, the customer has no reason to doubt whether or not it’s a necessary repair. And with Tekmetric, both the inspection and the estimate are sent directly to the customer, so they have the ability to play a more active role in approving and declining work. Seeing is believing. And with DVIs, your shop will emphasize transparency.

DVIs Are Adaptable

DVIs have the ability to fit into all schedules. Digital vehicle inspection reports and estimates can be shared through a text message or email. So those customers that are on-the-go and have their own errand checklist to get through can simply drop off their vehicle and keys, go about their day, and still keep tabs on their vehicle and approve or decline work whenever is convenient for them.

DVIs Will Become a Customer Expectation

More and more auto repair shops are beginning to use DVIs. And once a customer experiences the ability to leave when they want to while still being able to see what’s wrong with their vehicles on the go, they’ll continue to expect that at all shops they set foot in. Modern technology is making its way into all businesses, so replacing traditional methods for modern day solutions will help your shop better serve customers.  

DVIs Sell More Work

With digital vehicle inspection checklists, your technicians can uncover additional work that needs to be done on the car, not just what the customer brought the vehicle in for. From there, they can easily show the customer what repair work takes precedence over the others.

Tekmetric’s digital vehicle inspection checklist has a built-in color-coding system where jobs marked in “red” need immediate attention, jobs marked in “yellow” can wait for the next visit, and jobs marked in “green'' mean things are good to go. Being able to help your customer’s prioritize repairs means they’ll either say, “We might as well take care of that now, too,” or if they decline it, your service writers can reach back out in the future to see if they want to get those repairs taken care of. It’s a win-win.

DVIs Make Shops More Efficient

With a digital vehicle inspection checklist, technicians know exactly what to look for and how to relay any information over to the service advisors. With the tech’s findings from the DVI, service advisors have a standardized report to build estimates from. And customers? They have more visibility and control over what work needs to be done. Shop owners, you know this better than anyone: it can be challenging to find that healthy balance of risk and reward. But the more you can manage the complexity of a lot of  moving parts and find smooth transitions between processes and steps, the better.  

DVIs Are Customizable

Another efficiency factor behind Tekmetric’s built-in DVIs is that you can create as many inspection checklists as you see fit. Tekmetric will then save it to the cloud, and you can pull up the inspection created for any correlating customer concerns.  

How Vehicle Inspections Tie into Real-Time Reports

Tekmetric’s real-time customer reports enhance the vehicle inspection checklist process from start to finish. When an existing customer steps foot into your shop, your service advisors can pick up right where they left off by looking at their previously declined jobs and close ratio. As a shop owner, you can view all the customer data generated from DVIs and estimates to better understand your customers, train your team, and refine the inspection and estimate process over time.

Customer List Report: Tekmetric’s Customer List Report gives you an overview of each customer’s Lifetime Visits, Lifetime Spend, Lifetime Profit, Lifetime ARO, Lifetime Close Ratio and other key stats.

Declined Jobs Report: With the Declined Jobs Report, service advisors can see all jobs that have been declined on past ROs so that they can get them back in the shop. If something is marked as yellow on the DVI, that’s fine because your service advisors can go into the Declined Jobs Report and track which jobs were declined.

Tek-Tip: Shop owners, the Declined Jobs Report is also helpful for you when it comes to identifying which jobs are declined most often so that you can create effective promotional campaigns that upsell, cross-sell and improve your Close Ratio. From there, you can take advantage of Tekmetric’s customer leads and marketing sources reports.

Boost Your Average Written Repair Order With Tekmetric’s DVIs and Real-Time Reporting Features

Another benefit to Tekmetric’s built-in Digital Vehicle Inspection Checklists and the Real-Time Reporting features are that you can track and even increase your shop’s Average Written Repair Order (AWRO). If your team is doing thorough digital vehicle inspections, they’re more likely to find things that could be issues that will be marked either red or yellow. Whether the recommended work is marked red or yellow, they are still tracked as a job under the AWRO because those yellow jobs can lead to more jobs in the future.

Selling work is often a numbers game; you can’t sell what you don’t write, which is why AWRO is so important to your shop’s profitability goals. You might not be getting work on the yellow jobs now, but you’re adding the potential to see more work in the future.

Go Digital For Your Team & Your Customers

According to SuperOffice, digital transformation is forcing companies to change their business models and adapt to the modern world. But that change isn’t driven by companies, it’s driven by the companies’ customers. In order to keep up with the “always-connected” consumers, your shop may want to consider embracing technology to deliver that 5-star customer experience.

Research shows that 35% of business owners claim that digital transformation helps them to better meet customer expectations and improve operational efficiency, and 38% of owners plan to invest more in technology to make it their competitive advantage.

By investing in a cloud-based shop management system with a built-in digital vehicle inspection checklist system, you’re investing in your team’s workflow, your customer’s trust, and your shop’s success.

Prioritize Trust With A Built-In Digital Vehicle Inspection System

Traditional vehicle inspection methods take time and leave too much room for error. With a cloud-based shop management system, you can automate repeat information, save all data, and focus on making the right business moves.

You’ve worked hard to get your shop to where it is now. Continue to earn your customer’s trust by investing in modern day solutions.

Transparency, Check