December '19

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76 • RV PRO • December 2019 rv-pro.com B U S I N E S S minute – just before they get ready to go camping – to determine they have needs, and now want to get it done right away! Of course, it's been sitting in their driveway or backyard for the past five or six months. Where was the urgency then? If they would just pay attention during the walk-through they would know how to use that item and how it functions normally. That sure would save a lot of phone calls and "no problem found" repair orders. • Customers don't understand about the shortage of skilled technicians and how that delays the Repair Event Cycle Times. • As far as parts availability goes, quite often the new unit inventory becomes the source for replacement parts. This temporarily solves the parts issue – but requires twice the amount of labor time (with no additional income), and results in a new unit that is difficult to show. • The sales department may overpromise to the customer – and now service has to figure out how to get it done, which usually leads to missing a deadline promise to another service customer. • Some models require extensive prep time. From fixing simple water leaks to prepping complicated electronics, some models require more than just a few hours to get it ready for delivery. Couple this with an unrealistic delivery date and the pressure on the service department builds. • The service department also often deals with situations where it is required to jump through hoops to obtain warranty approval prior to starting the job, which can really slow things down. While it's easy to understand the manufacturer's viewpoint on this process, it can have an impact on timely completion of the job and ulti- mately customer satisfaction. • For many dealerships, just finding a place to safely store these massive units can be a challenge. Customers often just don't understand how important it is to pick up their unit when the repairs are completed. OK, obviously there are plenty of frustrations to go around from each point of view. Many of these will not have a total and complete solution, but improvements can be made. Six Areas to Improve Customer Service Next, I would like to share a few suggestions for you to con- sider, to begin that improvement. These include: The service guest handling process. I strongly recommend that you develop, implement and train on a specific guest handling process – from drop-off to pick-up. The customer's perception is too important to leave how they are handled up to individual customization. Job flow. I suggest you consider adopting a dedicated mobile service for recently delivered units, as it would save the customer the inconvenience of having to return it to the dealership. Also, be sure that additional recommendations are presented at drop-off based upon the RV's age, mileage and/or use. Not only does this increase revenue, but it helps to set a more realistic completion day/time. Address all concerns while the unit is in the shop. Meanwhile, every shop should have an outlined apprentice technician on-site training program to build for the future. Also, to reduce technician down times, how about staging the next unit to come in to the shop? I also encourage you to consider setting an estimated com- pletion date for each job. Then, post that time/ day on a job- status board. Write that estimated completion date on the repair order before it is dispatched. The assigned technician then has a deadline to meet. In addition, conduct a daily morning job-status board meeting where the current status of every unit on the lot is reviewed. This meeting should be attended by all service and parts personnel. Lastly, assign a technician team to a multi-line repair order. Jobs requiring different skill levels could be addressed by indi- vidual technicians without the need to move it or having a work bay tied up, thus improving the cycle time of that job. Advance planning. Consider performing a pre- or partial prep of the dealership's new/used inventory. Obtain pre-approval for warranty repair whenever possible and pre-order parts. Many can be obtained prior with minimal risk of creating obsolescence. Not having the job held up waiting on parts may be worth the risk anyway. Develop a daily, "parts on order" status process to keep the service advisors and technicians informed. A definite must-have is a real scheduling system. It may be better to have the custom- er's unit sitting in his driveway waiting to get into the shop than to have it sitting on your lot – particularly if space is an issue. There is a definite advantage to having a load-based scheduling system that is based on: appointment priority (recently delivered, comeback, etc.); technicians available; actual technician produc- tivity; current shop load; parts availability; average job cycle time; and carry-over jobs. Also, pre-pulling parts for jobs ready to come into the shop, and having the service order charged out and ready to be issued can help to reduce technician down time. Have the parts advisors in a proactive role by making rounds through the shop during the day to determine technician needs for any additional parts. One thought: Is pick up and delivery of the customer's unit an option? Guest contact. Send a "thank you" letter from the service manager to customers of recently delivered unit that includes how the service appointment process works. A customer status update process also should be in place. For example, daily contact for small jobs and at least twice-a-week contact for the larger jobs. Customer contact should be documented. Also consider implementing a follow-up customer satisfaction contact after the service visit to address any concerns and identify areas to improve processes. Measure what matters. (This is in addition to the normal key performance indicators). Assign accurate flat-rate times to each job, even if the technicians are not paid on a flat-rate system. This allows you to track productivity and compare billed hours to the flat-rate hours for the job.

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