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Auditing your dealership’s service scheduling processes

Auditing your service scheduling process is the best way to find potential bottlenecks and implement techniques to improve fixed operations.

The gateway to your dealership’s service department is scheduling. Make this process effortless, and the journey for a satisfied customer gets off on the right foot. However, you may never know if there are roadblocks to arranging a service appointment because the customer will simply go elsewhere. This is why auditing your service scheduling process regularly is so critical. It’s the best way to identify potential bottlenecks and implement techniques to optimize this key component of fixed operations. 

Let’s look at the audit process and what’s involved in reducing wait times, improving technician productivity, and enhancing customer satisfaction. 

Start by reviewing key performance indicators

The first step in auditing service scheduling is to analyze key performance indicators (KPIs). Look at technician utilization rates, average repair times, number of appointments booked versus available slots, and customer satisfaction scores. This data will highlight problem areas. For example, low technician utilization could indicate inefficient scheduling. Highly variable repair times may suggest inaccurate estimations. Knowing your KPIs can identify improvement areas.

Analyze the schedule

Examine how the service schedule itself is set up. Do the existing appointment slots allow enough time for typical services? Do certain repairs need specialized tools, particular bays, or specific technicians? Are you allowing enough time for test drives? Go back to the data to check if appointments routinely run long. If so, your scheduling template requires adjustment. It’s a delicate balance. Arranging appointments too far apart reduces productivity, while scheduling the work too closely leads to delays and frustration. 

Take advantage of scheduling tools and software 

Modern scheduling platforms are a boon to streamlined operations and a sure path to customer satisfaction. Evaluate the software your dealership currently uses and see if there’s room for improvement. At a minimum, you’ll want software that provides real-time updates when appointments are delayed, provides 24/7 online booking for customers, and sends automatic text or email reminders. There’s no reason not to take advantage of the powerful tools at your disposal. 

Look for scheduling bottlenecks

Review the scheduling process to uncover bottlenecks. Examples could include appointments with an unclear status or technicians slowed down by parts or authorization delays. Do a deep dive into the steps involved, from setting up the appointment to starting work. Are there any communication hold-ups? Could the workflow be improved? To identify specific trouble areas, perform a post-game analysis of any repairs that encountered delays.

Collect customer feedback

Don’t hesitate to learn from your customers about the scheduling experiences. Be sure that post-repair surveys ask about the booking process and wait times. At the same time, monitor social media and online review sites for trouble patterns and common complaints. Feedback is a forerunner of what your customers are encountering. 

You’ve made changes to service scheduling. Now what?

Implementing improvements to the scheduling process is only half the effort. There are numerous follow-up steps to employ to ensure these changes make a difference. 

Get staff up to speed

Making improvements to the scheduling process will only yield results if the staff are fully comfortable with the changes. Provide comprehensive training to service advisors and technicians to maximize the new scheduling procedures.  Review the platform’s capabilities, examine the schedule templates, and explore time allocation guidelines. Set up periodic refresher training so staff don’t fall back into old habits.

Take advantage of time management strategies

Scheduling success comes from better time management. Create checklists to keep technicians on track. If work still regularly falls behind, use timers to provide reminders. While you don’t want to encourage overruns, establish an atmosphere that encourages technicians to provide an update if they can’t get the work completed with the allotted time. 

Leverage advanced technologies

Let the latest technology do some of the heavy lifting. Artificial intelligence can scrub historical data to create hyper-accurate work estimates. Smart tablets can provide real-time information about bay status and work progress. These systems can ensure that all the improvements from an updated scheduling process don’t go to waste.

Conduct regular scheduling audits

Get in the habit of regularly auditing the service scheduling process. Ideally, this should be done quarterly. But, don’t hesitate to be more aggressive if new bottlenecks arise. Periodic audits can enable the service department to get ahead of any anomalies before they impact customer satisfaction and the bottom line. 

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David Goldberg
David Goldberg
David Goldberg is a contributing writer and reporter for CBT News. He brings a unique combination of dealership experience, a lifelong love of automobiles, and a journalism background to his writing for CBT News. He has a BA in journalism from The George Washington University.

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