Originally posted on October 31, 2011
Where would you find just ONE person with ALL these qualities…
Multi-tasking abilities of an aircraft landing controller?
Patience and understanding of a therapist?
Problem-solving skills of a rocket scientist?
Decision-making skills of a business executive?
Communication skills of a diplomat?
Research skills of a librarian?
Sensitivity and compassion of Mother Theresa?
Database skills of a cyber geek?
Teamwork of a quarterback?
Mechanical knowledge of an auto-industry veteran?
You can find FOUR of them behind the computers here at Tom Dwyer Automotive Services!
As the sun is just peeking up over the horizon, and sometimes even earlier, our Service Advisors are starting their day. Dark or not, they open the office and shop, turn on the lights, fire up the air compressors, heaters and parts washer, start the coffee, wake up the cars that have been sleeping safe and sound in the shop all night, move them into the parking lot, bring up the computers, process the night drops, retrieve messages… it’s busy, but just the start of another typical day. It is not uncommon for clients to arrive as early as 6:15 am and find us here preparing. At 7AM the doors open officially and the phone is usually already ringing. Some clients have just walked down their driveway to find that their trusted automotive buddy won’t start and they can’t get to work, so they need an appointment NOW. Other clients who need planned maintenance, oil changes, minor tweaks, or major repairs are checking to see if there’s an open space on the schedule. Clients who already have appointments scheduled are starting to flow through the door, dropping off their vehicle with the expectation of having it back by the end of the day or even earlier.
The most important task of a Service Advisor is to understand exactly what each client expects for their vehicle, when they need their vehicle back, and how much they expect to pay for our services. Communication is everything and assumptions are deadly! The unasked question or the information not offered can cause us to miss a vehicle’s problem or not fill a client’s expectations and ruin the best attempt at great service. After getting the client’s specific needs and vehicle symptoms, the information is documented in the system and the Repair Order goes to the shop. It’s not out of the Service Advisor’s hands yet; they must clearly communicate the client’s concerns to the Technician who will actually perform the work. Our ASE-Certified Technicians check the vehicles’ service history records, research recalls and technical service bulletins, then scan, poke, prod, inspect, and road test the vehicle to confirm service needs or diagnose problems. They document their findings and talk with the Service Advisor about their recommendations.
After consulting with the Technician and reviewing the client vehicle history and the newly supplied data, the Service Advisor’s work continues; estimating the costs and time required for the service that is right for our clients and their individual goals, and contacting vendors for prices and availability for parts. We deal with over 20 different parts vendors, so finding the best part at the right price can be a very time consuming part of the job! Here at TDASI we use parts made by the manufacturer of the original part (OEM or original equipment manufacturer) for the vehicle, or a superior part when one is available. If an OEM part is required but not available to us through the regular parts channels then it’s time to start calling around to the dealers in the area (and sometimes outside the area) for the required part to fix the vehicle right the first time. We stand behind our work with a 24-month, 24,000-mile warranty so it is very important to us that we supply the best parts possible. After locating and pricing the parts, the labor costs are estimated by using industry-standard labor guides that provide approximate times required to perform needed services and repairs. This can also prove to be difficult as there are many variables not accounted for by labor guides. Outside forces such as hidden damage, aged brittle plastic, broken bolts, rust or corrosion can also take the best estimates and ruin them in hurry. We always do our best to offer accurate estimates for complete repairs, not the “as low as” estimates so common in the auto repair industry.
So far, we know what is needed and approximately how much it would cost for the repairs. Now comes the part the Service Advisors like the least…..giving good people bad news. After explaining the needs and conditions of the vehicle and the costs and the time requirements of the repairs, the Service Advisor and Client work together to decide exactly what steps to take. While Service Advisors in other shops are routinely paid straight commission with few or no benefits, frequently have little technical knowledge, and take no personal responsibility for the services they sell, ours are different. The Service Advisors at TDASI take responsibility for the complete process; they understand the services they offer and they are never paid on commission so you can trust that their recommendations will be based on a real understanding of your needs and not their paychecks. When the Client and Service Advisor have decided on the repairs to be made, the repair order is edited to reflect the final work description, cost estimate, delivery time, and any necessary caveats, and the Technician is given the Repair Order and the authorization to begin work.
We always start by pulling any parts we can from our existing stock. For parts we don’t stock, we are at the mercy of vendor inventories and their delivery schedules. Increasingly over the years vendor inventories are skeletal and even basic parts can be two days away or more. Often we make special runs to pick up parts from vendors when their delivery schedules conflict with our client’s needs.
The Technician now carries the responsibility for the critical service work but the Service Advisor stays involved, keeping an eye out for any changes or complications that could affect the repair, delivery time, or cost. When the vehicle is completed and tested, the Service Advisor documents the services performed and updates the client’s vehicle records to reflect what has been done and why, and what still needs to be done and when. The Service Advisor then contacts the client to let them know their vehicle is ready and offers information about pickup options. Finally, when our client picks up their car, they are not directed to “go see the person at the pay window.” The Service Advisors take the time to explain what was done and why, explain any precautions or break-in procedures, and offer information as to what might be expected for future services.
The Service process is complex and we are not in control of every variable, but we take responsibility for the problems that may occur. If a problem happens that changes the repairs we planned or if it affects the estimates we provided, we always call the client to get approval before proceeding. If a service is not completed in the time frame we promised we tell the client as soon as we know and offer rides or rental cars to help our clients keep up with their busy lives.
Maintaining our 97%-plus “on time” and “on estimate” record along with a 99+% customer satisfaction rate is no accident, but our goal is to deliver 100% client satisfaction! We hope that if our clients are satisfied with our service they tell their friends, co-workers and relatives. If we have missed our goal of 100% satisfaction we want them to tell us, so we can make it right and learn from our mistakes. We wanted you to know a little about what our Service Advisors do to plan and coordinate your repairs so you can help us provide you with the best client experience possible.