min read

The Shop Owner’s Ultimate Digital Vehicle Inspection Guide

When done right, digital vehicle inspections build customer trust and loyalty, empower service writers to sell larger repair orders, and streamline your repair process. Learn how to become a DVI Jedi in our Ultimate Guide to Digital Vehicle Inspections.

Let’s Get Digital

Welcome to our digital vehicle inspection guide!

Chances are, you’re reading this on your laptop, desktop, smartphone, or tablet, which goes to show that we now live in a digital world. Okay, theoretically you could print this guide and read a paper version. While we’d feel honored that this content means enough to you to print it out, why would you? You have access to it here on our website, and there’s no need to spend the time and resources to print it.

The point is that, by and large, most people prefer to use digital media and digital tools in order to save time, money, and, well, paper. For example, a 2019 Business Wire report found that roughly 9 out of 10 customers want retailers to include a digital receipt option, arguing that it would be better for the environment, more convenient, and easier to store than paper receipts.

When we look specifically at auto repair, there are even more opportunities to go digital beyond receipts. Printed estimates may seem like a professional way to present work to customers. But the problem is that paper estimates don’t really show drivers what’s wrong with their vehicles. Even with an attached paper inspection, your clients need to trust that what’s written or checked off is accurate. When you hand your clients a paper inspection, they’re left trying to decipher the handwriting on a flimsy sheet of paper that probably feels a little oily.

The result?

Customers approve a small sliver of work, or worse, go to another auto repair shop for a second opinion.

Digital vehicle inspections not only save time and paper but also build trust and enhance the customer experience. Not to mention, they help sell larger repairs and increase customer loyalty.

So, what exactly is a digital vehicle inspection?

What is a Digital Vehicle Inspection?

You’re probably already familiar with a vehicle inspection, also known as a “multipoint inspection” or “courtesy inspection.” 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.

In theory, old school technicians would use a piece of paper and check “good” or “bad” next to each item of the inspection, and then pass this paper inspection on to the service advisor to build the estimate. But anyone who has ever worked in a shop knows how the inspection process tends to go down in practice; the first few vehicles of the day get a thorough inspection, but as the day wears on and jobs start stacking up, technicians begin pencil whipping, or haphazardly checking “good” on everything except the major problems in an effort to save time. What ends up happening is a lot of potential repairs go overlooked. And then the service advisor is left to explain to the customer why the technician checked something as “bad” or “needs work.”

A digital vehicle inspection lives and operates on a piece of software, making it more useful than its paper ancestors. Thanks to tablets and smartphones, technicians can take advantage of touch screens and cameras to enter full digital vehicle inspection ninja mode, conducting inspections faster than they ever could with a pen and clipboard, while minimizing mistakes.

The camera opens up a world of transparency, allowing technicians to attach photos and videos to show guests exactly what’s wrong with their vehicles. You’re able to show the customer what’s wrong with their vehicle without taking them to the back of the shop and risking their safety. When the technician finishes the digital vehicle inspection, it can be sent as a text or email to the customer. No more crumpled paper!

Tekmetric: Paper Vehicle Inspections vs Digital Vehicle Inspections

Top Five Reasons to Use Digital Vehicle Inspections

Digital vehicle inspections are central to providing a 21st century experience to your customers. Just like streaming revolutionized the entertainment industry, digital communication has drastically transformed all consumer service industries. Digital vehicle inspections enable shops to upgrade their business to the next level and overcome both old and new challenges.

There are many reasons that switching to digital vehicle inspections makes sense, but if we had to boil them down to the top five reasons, they’d be the following.

  1. DVIs Build Trust

Sadly, most drivers don’t trust the auto repair industry. In 2020, AAA conducted an auto repair consumer survey, finding that 2 out of 3 drivers don’t trust independent auto repair shops. When these drivers were asked why they didn’t trust auto repair shops, the number one reason was that they felt shops recommend unnecessary services. Additionally, 63% of those surveyed said that they’d had negative past experiences at auto repair shops. The good news is that despite widespread distrust of the industry and many negative experiences, 64% of respondents said they had ultimately found an auto repair shop they could trust.

While the survey doesn’t dive into why drivers felt that way, there are several possible contributing factors. For instance, why did customers have a bad experience? Was it the customer service, or a bad repair? Did the shop actually recommend unnecessary service, or did the customer doubt them for other reasons? Did the driver and the service writer have a miscommunication? Or get off on the wrong foot?

No matter the root of the distrust, a well-implemented digital inspection process can break the stereotype many drivers have about auto repair mechanics. Seeing is believing, so when a technician attaches an image of a dirty air filter or a video of a busted ball joint, the customer has no reason to doubt whether or not it’s a necessary repair. And since the inspection and estimate can be sent directly to the customer, the customer plays a more active role in approving and declining work.

  1. DVIs Fit Into People’s Busy Schedules

The main reason people own cars is to be able to run errands, go to work, go to school, take their children to school, and generally be a part of the hustle and bustle of everyday life. And that life doesn’t stop when their vehicles need repairs. Most auto repair customers are already upset that they have to pause their regularly scheduled life in order to take their car into the shop. Making them sit around to approve work can add to that frustration.

Because digital vehicle inspections and estimates can be shared through a text message or email, customers don’t have to hang around the shop. They can drop off their vehicle and keys, go about their day, and still keep tabs on their vehicle so they can approve or decline work whenever it is convenient for them.

  1. DVIs Are Becoming an Industry Standard

Especially since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more auto repair shops are beginning to use digital vehicle inspections in conjunction with other touchless services like text-to-pay and two-way texting. Digital vehicle inspections play a key role in providing a contactless experience. Even when customers become more comfortable with coming into the shop, they’ll likely expect to still have the ability to leave when they want and see what’s wrong with their vehicles on the go.

Like Tekmetric user Henderson Johnson of Toyo Automotive of Conyers put it, “If I can't send an email or an estimate to a customer from within my system, it's obsolete. If I can't do inspections and attach it to the estimate for an approval, it's obsolete. If I can't communicate with customers via email and text, it's obsolete.”

  1. DVIs Sell More Work

Digital vehicle inspections aren’t just better for the driver. They help auto repair shop owners grow their business, too. Auto repair shops that train their technicians to use a digital vehicle inspection on each and every job sell more work and see higher AROs.

Why? Because the technician is able to find any and all work that should be done on the car, not just the work that the customer brought the vehicle in for. Of course, it’s important to help the customer prioritize repair work. Not every job necessarily has to be done that day. Some repair work can wait until the next visit. When service writers share that information transparently, customers really appreciate it.

Tekmetric’s digital vehicle inspections utilize a “green, yellow, red” color 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. This transparent and honest communication not only builds loyalty, but also sets the customer up to say, “You know, I appreciate you pointing this out. We might as well take care of that now.” And if they decline the job, you can track that in your system and remind them of it the next time they come into the shop. You can even use declined jobs as a catalyst to reach back out to say, “Hey! I noticed that last time you came in, your brakes had a few more weeks left. Would you like us to take care of that now?”

And having a photo or video of the component that needs attention helps nudge the customer even more towards approving repairs.

  1. DVIs Make Shops More Efficient

When your team makes a habit of starting every job with a digital vehicle inspection, you’ll find that the entire repair process becomes more efficient. Technicians know exactly what to look for, and how to relay that information to the service advisors in a way that makes sense. Service advisors have a standardized report to build estimates. Customers have more visibility and control over what work needs to be done. And with a shop management system like Tekmetric, shop owners like you are able to see these efficiencies in realtime, and how they translate to gross profit and other key performance indicators.

Brian Jewett, owner of Casey’s Automotive, has found that by using DVIs, his team can write estimates twice as fast:

“The speed at which [Tekmetric’s DVI] allows my counter to write service, price parts, talk to customers, interact there, approve jobs or decline jobs—that speed has doubled. It has improved two-fold. So if it took them 20 minutes to write an estimate, it's taking them 10 minutes.”

The Advantages of Having a Digital Vehicle Inspection as Part of Your Shop Management System

While there are quite a few stand-alone digital vehicle inspection tools available, it’s becoming more and more common to see digital vehicle inspections that either integrate with shop management software, or see shop management systems that include a built-in digital vehicle inspection tool. So, which kind of DVI tool is best for your shop?

If you already use, or are planning to use, a shop management system, it is best to go with a DVI solution that integrates with, or is a part of, your system.

Three Benefits to Using a Built-In DVI

  1. Save Money

Probably the biggest reason to use a built-in DVI is that it saves money. Before switching to Tekmetric, Excluservice shop owner Stephane Grabina used two separate systems for digital vehicle inspections and shop management, both of which were on a server. By switching to a cloud-based shop management system with a built-in DVI, he was able to save hundreds of dollars a month on IT costs.  

  1. Save Time

Many shop management systems that include a DVI use it as a stepping stone to building estimates. In Tekmetric, once the technician completes an inspection, they can send it to the service advisor to share with the customer and build a repair order. Having a DVI that ties into the estimate process not only saves time but also clearly outlines each part of the process so that technicians and service advisors know exactly what they’re accountable for.

  1. Save & Track Declined Jobs

Shop management systems with built in DVIs also provide more visibility into what’s approved and what’s declined without the service advisor having to re-enter any information. In Tekmetric, any job that the customer declines from the estimate (which is built from the DVI) will be sent to the “declined jobs” list on the customer’s profile. Being able to track declined jobs enables your shop to keep in touch with customers, which builds customer loyalty and even gives you an opportunity to pick up more business when times are slow.

How to Create a Digital Vehicle Inspection in Tekmetric

Tekmetric makes it extremely easy to create digital vehicle inspections that are well-organized and simple for technicians to follow. Your shop can create as many different inspections as you need. For instance, if your shop offers body work, repair work, and transmission work, you may want to create three different inspections that focus on the type of repair work specific types of customers come in for.

Tekmetric also lets you organize inspections by “groups,” which helps guide technicians through checking different areas of the vehicles. Groups can also represent different types of maintenance. For example, your shop can create an inspection group for “scheduled maintenance” to remind technicians to check the odometer and recommend maintenance at different mile marks (3,000 mile service; 5,000 mile service; 6,000 mile service; etc.)

When you create a digital vehicle inspection in Tekmetric, you can also tie different inspection tasks to canned jobs, which makes it easier than ever for the service advisors to build an estimate and recommend work tied to the technician's findings.

Let’s dive in and learn how Tekmetric makes all these tasks easy to manage.

Step 1: Create a New Inspection

Before you begin using digital vehicle inspections at your shop, you have to create them. To create DVIs, navigate to the menu on the left hand side of Tekmetric’s dashboard. Click the “Inspections'' button (under the group titled, “Manage”). This will open your shop's Inspections menu. Click the “New Inspections'' button in the upper right hand corner.

Step 2: Title Your Inspection

On top of your new inspection, you’ll see a dialogue box prompting you to give the inspection a title. Give the inspection a clear, easy-to-identify title. For example “20-point inspection” or “diesel vehicle inspection” will make it clear to technicians which inspection to choose for different vehicles and customers.

Step 3: Add Inspection Groups and Tasks

Underneath the title, you’ll see an additional box for the “Inspection Group.” This is where you can group tasks associated with different areas of a vehicle, or different types of services. For example, you could make groups for “Body,” “Interior,” and “Under the Hood” to house tasks associated with each of those areas. You could also create a group called, “Factory Scheduled Maintenance” that reminds technicians to check the vehicle's mileage so they can make better maintenance recommendations.

Once you create a group, you can begin adding tasks associated with that group. So if you create a group for “Under the Hood,” you can then add all the areas a technician should inspect under the hood: hood shocks, air filter, drive belts, and so on. For “Factory Scheduled Maintenance,” you may want to make each mileage milestone a task: 3,000 miles, 5,000 miles, 15,000 miles, etc. That way, when the technician checks the mileage, they can simply mark the mileage of the vehicle so that the service advisor can recommend the appropriate maintenance.

Keep adding groups and tasks until you’ve covered every point of the inspection.

Step 4: Save Inspection

After you’ve named each group and task that the inspection covers, simply click the “Save Inspection” button in the lower right-hand corner. Once an inspection is saved, technicians can easily find it under the “Inspections” tab under any repair order ticket in Tekmetric.

How to Run a Digital Vehicle Inspection in Tekmetric

Once you have your digital vehicle inspection(s) saved in Tekmetric, your technicians can begin using them on each and every vehicle that comes through the door. While performing a DVI on every vehicle may seem like it adds time, it doesn’t. Tekmetric streamlines the process so that inspections are quick and easy for technicians to conduct, and it will save the service advisors time when they’re building out estimates.

Here’s how you do it.

Step 1: Create a Repair Order

To perform a digital vehicle inspection in Tekmetric, you must first create a repair order. You can create a repair order by going to Tekmetric’s Job Board and clicking the “Create Repair Order'' button in the right hand corner.  After your service advisor adds all the customer information, selects a labor rate, and fills out any other details, they can click the “Create Repair Order'' button again (this time at the bottom left-hand side), and it will save that repair order to the job board.

Step 2: Dispatch Repair Order Ticket to Technician

When an RO is created, you’ll be able to access it from the Tekmetric Job Board. Just click into the Job Board, and you’ll see a list of ROs in the “Estimates” column on the left-hand side.

A service advisor can click the RO to open it, and select a technician using the information bar on the right-hand side.

Step 3: Let Technician Conduct Inspection

When the technician gets the repair order, they can then navigate to the “Inspections” tab on the top of the screen. Here, they can see the customer’s concerns, add their own concerns, and add new inspections by clicking the “Add New Inspection” button. When the technician clicks “Add New Inspection,” it will open up the list of previously saved inspections.

From here, the technician selects the inspection that best fits the job at hand. So if your shop has a general 40-point inspection for standard vehicles, they can choose that. Or if it’s a diesel vehicle, and your shop has a special “diesel inspection,” the technician can select that. Service advisors can add notes to the repair order to make it clear to the technician which type of inspection to conduct if it seems like there might be confusion.

Running through the inspection is intuitive. The technician goes through each group and task, inspects the part or area of the car, and adds ratings and findings to the inspection. To add a rating, technicians simply click the pencil icon next to a task, and check the “green,” “yellow,” “red,” or “grey” bubble.

Tekmetric DVI Rating Color Meaning

To add a finding, technicians can either type out their own finding (“part is loose” or “part is worn,” etc.) or select from a list of pre-defined terms for consistency. From there, they can take a picture of the finding by clicking the camera icon. Or they can add a video by clicking the video icon. If they’re on a phone or tablet with a camera, these buttons will ask for permission to access the camera where they can snap a picture or take a video. If they’re on a desktop, they can search for the image and add it to the inspection that way. Tekmetric even lets the technician mark the image with a pen tool, making it easier to highlight what the customer should pay attention to.

For any areas that look fine on the vehicle, the technician can select the “green” bubble. And if the inspection doesn’t apply, they can select the “grey” bubble for “not applicable.” If it’s apparent that there are only minor issues, and the technician wants to quickly select multiple ratings at once, they can use the “Rate All Tasks” drop-down at the top of the inspection. The “Rate All Tasks” function is essentially a pencil whip, but it allows the technician to go back and quickly change the ratings of individual items, saving them time from having to rate all of them one-by-one.

Step 4: Save Inspection

After the technician makes their way through the entire inspection, they can click the “Save Inspection” button at the bottom of the inspection. This will save the inspection to the repair order, and notify the service advisor to begin building the ticket. The service advisor can even use the “Copy to Estimate” feature, which takes the findings and automatically adds them to an estimate.

Step 5: Share Inspection

Once the inspection is saved, technicians have the option to share the inspection report with the customer. Tekmetric automatically generates a “Vehicle Health” report that shows the customer the findings along with the immediacy of each job. Sharing the inspection report gives the customer a better idea of what needs immediate attention and what can wait. The shared inspection also includes all images and videos taken by the technician so that they can see exactly what the technician is talking about. The inspection report can be shared through email or text, and there’s even an option to generate a link to the inspection report in case the customer wants to share the link with another decision maker in the family.

Digital Vehicle Inspection Tips and Tricks

Tekmetric is designed to make the digital vehicle inspection as intuitive and easy as possible. But there are some tips and tricks that can help your shop gain even better results with DVIs, some of which may not be immediately apparent.

Only Take Short Videos

Videos eat up a lot of data and can lead to large file sizes that take a long time to attach and load. To save time, only take videos that are less than 30 seconds long. Ten to 30 seconds is usually an ample amount of time to show a broken or damaged part to the customer.

Include Photos and Videos That Show the Vehicle’s Exterior

Many drivers don’t spend a lot of time looking under the hood of their car. So if you send them a photo or video that is super zoomed in on some pipe they’ve never seen before, they may think, “Wait, how do I know this is my vehicle?” In an ideal world where drivers trust repair shops, this wouldn’t be a problem. But since repair shops don’t always have the best reputation in the minds of drivers, you can provide some extra assurance by taking pictures and videos that include at least part of the exterior of the vehicle in the frame so that they know they are indeed looking at their car.

Use Inspections as a Way to Build Relationships With Customers

When done right, inspections are the ultimate way to show guests that you’re looking out for their best interests. A shop that uses DVIs effectively will put their customers at ease.

S&S Auto Repair does a fantastic job at walking customers through their inspections. As S&S shop owner Aaron Smith put it: “Our goal is to help our customers budget their repairs. If a technician brings us a digital inspection and there is a lot of stuff in red, we can go through and break them down into the three categories: safety, maintenance, and repairs. In each category, we break it down further—this needs to be done today, this can wait until your next oil change, and this one we can work on in the next six months, but you need to budget for it.”

Using inspections to have similar conversations with your customers is a great way to build loyalty, and keep them coming back to your shop.