How to Achieve the Ultimate Workflow at Your Shop With Repair Tracking Software

Every repair order is unique and has your team juggling what seems like a million moving pieces. From the moment a guest walks into your shop, things can fall somewhere in between two ends of a spectrum.

On one end, there’s chaos. There could be miscommunication between the technician and the service advisor about a repair. Or, a service advisor forgets to add a customer note about a vehicle concern, and as a result, the technician doesn’t check it out. A chaotic shop environment can lead to a frustrated team, frustrated guests, and bad reviews.

On the opposite end, there’s harmony. Everything runs smooth like a well-oiled machine (pun intended). Technicians and service advisors work in sync. Everyone is in the loop about exactly what’s happening at the shop and knows when to do what. Your team is simply in the zone, and your customers notice. They leave the shop satisfied and are likely to leave good reviews.

Of course, your shop can’t grow in a sustainable way if it’s always entrenched in chaos. Your shop has a greater likelihood of growing when things are working in harmony. When your shop runs like clockwork, you’ll benefit from a better culture, happier customers, increased loyalty, and more profits.

The good news is that you can achieve that harmonious, “in the zone” environment at your shop, but first, it’s important to understand what factors lead to harmony and flow.

Creating a State of Flow at Your Shop With Repair Tracking Software

Think about those times you were “in the zone,” so engulfed in what you were doing—whether it was golfing or creating an expansion plan for your shop—that you didn’t realize so much time had gone by in a flash. You were likely in a “state of flow,” which is a psychological concept that is defined as capturing “the positive mental state of being completely absorbed, focused and involved” in activities at a “certain point in time, as well as deriving enjoyment from being engaged in that activity.”

If your team can accomplish a state of flow at work, your shop will be in the best possible position to succeed. Here are just a few of the benefits of achieving flow at work:

  • Your team will be more productive
  • Your team will be more likely to see their work as rewarding
  • Your team will feel like they can tackle difficult tasks with more creativity and ease

No software is the be-all, end-all of achieving a state of flow, but it can help everything flow together. Why? Because repair tracking software ties into key things psychologists have identified with reaching a state of flow, such as:

  • Minimizing distractions
  • Providing a sense of control
  • Helping set defined goals

Repair tracking software (combined with proper training for your team on how to use it) helps you create workflows, or streamlined processes, for major repair order steps.

Here’s how repair tracking software can keep your team flowing through six crucial stages of the repair process.

1. Get to Know Your Guests, and Create a Friendly Environment  

Think about when you visit your dentist. The receptionists, dental hygienists, and dentist always seem to remember you and your needs and preferences. And it appears like it’s all from memory. Sure, some of it likely is, but they also keep patient files that help them recall key details.

Your shop’s service advisors can create an experience that’s similar to a good dentist’s office—memorable and feel-good for your guests. People stay with the same dentist for most of their lives because they feel like everyone at the office knows them. Similarly, by keeping track of who your customers are, what they like, and what they’re all about, you can get them coming back for life!

How the Flow Can Be Broken at This Step

When a guest enters your shop, the service advisor who greets them has to get a lot of information to build trust and ensure a smooth repair. If the service advisor haphazardly approaches the customer intake, it’ll be tougher for them to achieve a state of flow throughout this step, and might cause problems later throughout the repair process. For example, let’s say the service advisor is in a rush and forgets to ask a customer a crucial question, such as:

  • What problem(s) are you having with your vehicle?
  • How long have you been experiencing the problem(s) with your vehicle?
  • Do you plan on sticking around the shop, or are you going to run some errands or go home?

By missing or mishearing important information, the service advisor won’t be able to properly communicate with the technician. In turn, there’s a high risk that the technician will miss something during the repair.

What a Healthy Flow Looks Like at This Step

A healthy flow during customer intake consists of service advisors having a standard process in place for each first-time customer. You can collaborate with your service advisors to brainstorm and fine-tune that process. For example, the intake for new customers could look like this:

  1. Greet the new customer in a friendly manner and welcome them to the shop
  2. Get key personal details about the customer (their name, phone number, preferred method of contact, etc.)
  3. Get the make, model, and year of their vehicle
  4. Ask them what problem(s) they are having with their vehicle
  5. Ask them how long they have been experiencing those problems
  6. Ask them how they found out about your shop
  7. Ask them whether they want to stay at the shop, go run errands, get back to work, or go home during their repair
  8. Explain what the next steps will be (they’ll soon be receiving a DVI and repair order estimate and will then sign off on work, the repair will start, and the shop will contact them once everything is good to go)

As for existing customers, if you’re taking good notes, you’ll be able to greet them, show them you remembered them, and give them a good reason to come back time and again.

How Repair Tracking Software Can Help

Service advisors have to get a lot of information from guests at this initial stage. It’s important that they document everything (after all, no one has a perfect memory). They can certainly jot everything down on paper, but using a paper record system isn’t a good long-term solution. Paper disrupts flow—it’s hard for a service advisor to stay focused when they’re distracted, shuffling through stacks of papers and files. Not to mention, keeping pages and pages of files takes up space and is difficult to navigate. Paper can also get misplaced.

With repair tracking software, service advisors can move through this step with little effort, keeping track of customer information with just a few clicks.

In Tekmetric, a service advisor can add customer notes in a matter of seconds, either creating new customer profiles or updating existing customer profiles with new information.

These customer notes put the service advisor in a strong position to tackle the next step of the repair process. Let’s go right into it.

2. Establish a Transparent, Replicable Digital Vehicle Inspection and Repair Estimate Process

Once the service advisor has punched in the relevant customer notes into the repair tracking software, the guest needs to know what’s actually wrong with their vehicle so they can decide what work to get done.

How the Flow Can Be Broken at This Step

After a technician conducts their initial inspection of the car, it’s up to the service advisor to communicate the findings to the customer. Traditionally, service advisors have used paper vehicle inspections to walk customers through the findings.

This method can cause bumps in your workflow. With paper inspections, the customer has to trust the service advisor and their piece of paper, which can lead to a time-consuming, stressful back-and-forth that will take your colleagues out of the zone.  

What a Healthy Flow Looks Like at This Step

With the use of digital vehicle inspections (DVIs), the flow at the shop can continue. DVIs can include photos and videos that give the customer a visual of exactly what’s wrong with their car.

DVIs have several benefits over paper inspections. For one, they help build trust with customers because they add an additional layer of transparency. Guests can see with their own eyes that the repairs listed are necessary. DVIs also make your shop more efficient because technicians and service advisors will be able to work with the same information and collaborate in one place.

Once the technician has finished their inspection and has created the DVI, the service advisor can put together a digital repair estimate that includes the attached DVI for the guest. That repair estimate should break down each repair so the guest can see exactly what works need to be done, and the urgency of the work. For example, a repair might be necessary down the line but it may not be a pressing matter that day. If the repair estimate indicates that some repairs are urgent and some can wait, the customer will have a clearer understanding of how they want to approach their vehicle’s repair.  

How Repair Tracking Software Can Help

Repair tracking software streamlines the creation of DVIs and repair estimates. With Tekmetric, technicians and service advisors can collaborate in realtime to create accurate, easy-to-understand inspection reports and estimates.

With Tekmetric, a service advisor can dispatch a technician to run a DVI. The technician can then go through a pre-set list of tasks for different types of inspections. As Tekmetric guides them through each task, the technician can quickly snap pictures with their smartphone or tablet, and upload them right into the repair order. A handy "green, yellow, red" coding system makes it simple to indicate which repairs need attention, and which ones can wait.

This brings us to the next step—making it easy for guests to approve repairs.

3. Make It Easy for Guests to Approve Repairs

It’s important to remember that your customers are trying to keep their own flow going, too. To take their car in for a repair, they might have to take time off work or squeeze the repair in between chores. This means that customers might not be in the best mood. If they’re disagreeable or don’t trust your shop, they can really disrupt your team’s flow.

Working with customers to approve work is where the real back-and-forth can happen if your team isn’t careful. It’s ideal to have customers approve all repairs, but your team can’t be pushy, either. That’s why it’s important to make the repair approval process as transparent, intuitive, and easy as possible for guests.

How the Flow Can Be Broken at This Step

The traditional method of calling a guest, or approaching them in person if they are at the shop, to get their approval on repairs can lead to miscommunication, confusion, and frustration when the shop is busy.

Calling a guest can quickly turn into a game of telephone tag if they don’t pick up. To make things worse, as the service advisor reads off the list of problems on the paper inspection, a customer could mishear something, leading to a big surprise when it’s time to pay. Not to mention, walking to a guest to hand them a paper inspection takes the service advisor away from their workstation.

In both cases, waiting for the customer to approve repairs can disrupt the flow. The longer the service advisor has to spend time explaining the repair estimate to the customer, the less time they have for other guests. This will create a backlog at your shop, which can lead to extra stress for the time-squeezed service advisors and technicians.

Of course, there are benefits to calling the customer or walking up to them to explain their repair estimate in person—provided that the shop has the time. It adds a personal touch. But even then, those practices can be bolstered by a DVI.

What a Healthy Flow Looks Like at This Step

A healthy flow at this step is when the customer can clearly see every job on the repair estimate and its urgency—and then approve or decline individual jobs without having an extensive conversation with a service advisor. Putting the guest in the driver’s seat of the approval process ensures that nothing will be misheard or misconstrued over the phone.

How Repair Tracking Software Can Help

Repair tracking software removes the need for service advisors to play “telephone tag” with each repair estimate. Tekmetric enables service advisors to email or text repair estimates to guests. If guests have questions, they can text the shop, and service advisors can use Tekmessage true two-way texting to quickly answer their questions.

Guests will then be able to approve or decline individual jobs on their own time. For example, maybe they want to approve the five urgent repair items on their estimate and save the non-urgent ones for later. With Tekmetric, they can simply decline the non-urgent repairs. As guests review the estimate and approve work, the service advisors and technicians can continue working instead of waiting around for guests to make a decision. Because service advisors can now stay focused, they will be able to navigate the next step (the parts ordering process) more efficiently.

4. Tighten Up Your Shop’s Parts Ordering Process

Once the guest has approved specific jobs, the service advisor should know exactly which parts to order (if they aren’t already in the shop’s stock or inventory).

How the Flow Can Be Broken at This Step

At this step, the flow can be broken in several ways. Finding the right part might take too long, or the service advisor finds the part fast, but there’s a shipping delay. That time adds up. Suddenly, that repair the service advisor told the customer would take about three hours could take five.

To further complicate things, the service advisor might have to juggle parts ordering with reconciling purchase orders. If the service advisor has to take the time to track and input purchase orders, that will disrupt their flow.

What a Healthy Flow Looks Like at This Step

Your shop’s service advisors should be able to quickly and easily shop around for parts, place orders as soon as possible, and keep technicians in the loop about where the parts are.

As for parts reconciliation, a comprehensive repair tracking software should automatically keep track of purchase orders and play nice with your accounting software.

How Repair Tracking Software Can Help

Repair tracking software can simplify parts ordering for your shop. Tekmetric integrates with major parts vendors, enabling service advisors to place orders with just a few clicks.

If the service advisor calls up the local parts dealer instead, they can place an order and make note of it within individual repair orders in Tekmetric. The service advisor can add additional notes as well, such as who the point of contact is at the local dealer and what number to call if needed.

Another benefit that Tekmetric offers? Service advisors can indicate each stage of the parts ordering process—needed, quoted, ordered, and received.

And finally, Tekmetic automatically keeps track of parts ordering details, which can then be pushed to QuickBooks with The Back Office integration. Service advisors won’t have to mentally step away from their on-hand tasks to make sure all the parts ordering details are in line. Instead, they can move to the next step, which is giving technicians the go-ahead to begin repairs.

5. Quickly Dispatch Tickets to Technicians

The service advisor has gathered all the customer information, the customer has approved the repair estimate, and the parts are at the shop. Now, it’s time for the really fun part—starting the actual repair! But it’s important that during this step, technicians are set up for success. They have to get in their own flow so they can knock out the work.

How the Flow Can Be Broken at This Step

If the service advisor has to leave their workstation to go hunt down the technician in the back of the shop, that means there’ll be one less person to help customers. Additionally, the service advisor might not have an accurate idea of what is on each technician’s plate, and over-assign or under-assign work. Maybe the service advisor assigns a repair to Jill, who already has six repairs on her schedule. Meanwhile, Jason only has one repair left for the day and can move right into their next repair.

What a Healthy Flow Looks Like at This Step

The service advisor needs to get a quick snapshot of what each technician is working on and what’s in their repair pipeline, and then quickly dispatch repair orders. The service advisor should be able to do this from behind their desk, rather than having to go find individual technicians and ask them questions about their workload.

How Repair Tracking Software Can Help

Repair tracking software can give service advisors a bird’s eye view of each technician’s workload from their workstation. With Tekmetric, service advisors can navigate to the “Tech Board” and see a list of outstanding repair orders. They’ll also see columns for each technician that visualize their assigned hours, complete hours, and incomplete hours.

From there, the service advisor can dispatch a repair order to the appropriate technician. They can even dispatch individual line items from a repair order to different technicians in order to distribute work more evenly. And if a service advisor wants to prioritize one repair over another, they can do so by dragging and dropping an individual repair order to the top of a technician’s column.

Efficient management of technician’s time gets the repair rolling so the service advisor can keep customers in the loop.

  1. Keep Customers Updated and Create a Smooth Payment Process

Guests can be doing any number of things while the technicians repair their vehicles. They could be running errands, or in an ideal world, achieving their own flow states at work.  

Regardless, they still want to know the status of their repair in the easiest way possible. That information helps them plan for the rest of their day—they might need their car by 2:00 PM to make it to the next thing they’ve got going on.

Once the repair is complete and the service advisor has notified the customer, all the customer needs to do is pay. As a shop owner, you want your customers to have a great experience from start to finish.

How the Flow Can Be Broken at This Step

“How much longer will the repair take?” “What’s with the delay?” “Dude, where’s my car?” These are questions customers can ask service advisors if your shop doesn’t proactively keep in the loop about repairs. These questions will pull service advisors away from their current tasks, such as helping other customers.

If guests aren’t kept in the loop about their repairs, they might pick up their vehicles late. This means employees might have to stick around the shop after-hours to collect payment.

What a Healthy Flow Looks Like at This Step

As the technician works on the repair, the service advisor should get regular updates that they can relay to the customer. They shouldn’t be leaving their workstations, running back and forth (it’s a good workout, but it pulls them away from helping guests). And service advisors should get these updates from technicians in a way that doesn’t interrupt the technicians’... you guessed it… flow.

When it’s time to pay, the guest should have easy options to process their payment, whether that’s a text-to-pay service, a smart payment terminal, or both.

How Repair Tracking Software Can Help

Repair tracking software can keep service advisors up-to-date about the status of each repair without them having to go bother technicians in person. With Tekmetric, technicians can run a built-in timer on line items in each repair order, and easily mark off completed jobs. From there, they can periodically add status updates into the digital repair order, marking off completed jobs.

Since the service advisor has access to the same system, they can jump into a repair order at any time to see the progress bar. From there, they can use the Tekmessage feature to text the guest about how far along the repair is. For example, if a service advisor sees that a repair is ahead of schedule, they can contact the guest and inform them they can pick up their vehicle earlier than planned. Good thing the service advisor took notes during the first step! Now they know how the guest wants to be reached, and how urgent it is to get their vehicle back at a certain time.

With Tekmerchant text-to-pay, customers can pay on their own time, which minimizes disruptions. And if your shop sets up a drop box, they can pick up their vehicle when it’s most convenient for them. Your employees won’t have to wait around after-hours at the shop anymore.

Your Own Flow as a Shop Owner

As a shop owner, you have your own flow—you’re demonstrating good leadership to your team, analyzing your shop’s metrics, and growing your business one day at a time. Simultaneously, your team members have their own flow.

To keep the flow going for both you and your team, it’s important that you don’t get in the middle of your team’s flow. You should strive to keep your involvement high-level, and not micromanage day-to-day. But what you can do with repair tracking software is look at your shop’s various metrics to set goals, which gives more structure to the flow of your shop. In turn, this can help you determine how much your shop is growing from the workflows you’re establishing.

For example, instead of pulling each technician aside to ask about their hours, you can use repair tracking software like Tekmetric to quickly get an overview of how much each technician has been working. From there, you can start to determine if a particular technician might need additional training or onboarding. This way, you aren’t disrupting anyone’s flow, but are still leading by example.

When you avoid interrupting your team’s flow, you’ll be putting your business in the best possible position to ride the waves of success.

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