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3 Process Improvements for Service

Woman checking her watch for the time
Article Highlights:

  • Do you have a breakdown in process in your service department?
  • Small changes to your process can have BIG improvements.

How will you make profit in other areas of your dealership if vehicle sales decline? This is a question you need to ask every day.

Now is the time to assess and improve your current processes. I see plenty of room for improvement in many dealerships I visit, particularly in the service department.

The good news? You can make BIG improvements in how your service department operates and generates profit with minor tweaks.

Here are three crucial areas service departments could step up their game:

Not doing a thorough walk-around

The walk-around should be taken seriously for all RO’s – even simple ones like oil changes. We know a thorough walk-around leads to more sales. But when do you perform the walk-around?

Always tackle the walk-around right when a vehicle arrives. This will give you a chance to present any findings to the customer. Speak to them directly so they understand any issues. The better the customer understands an issue, the more likely you’ll hear “yes” to your recommendations.

I recommend equipping advisors with tablets. This allows advisors to approach customers at the vehicle, enter the RO, conduct the walk-around immediately and document recommendations. It allows interaction with the customer and removes a major barrier (the desktop computer).

Pro tip: If your service advisors need practice with their presentation skills, implement role-playing activities. Good interaction with customers doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Be patient with your staff, but hold them accountable by expecting continuous improvement.

Wrong techs for the wrong jobs

When higher level techs conduct routine maintenance, while lower level techs take on complex repairs they aren’t ready for, the dealership loses dollars and efficiency.

This problem can be solved at the dispatcher’s desk. An experienced dispatcher with an advanced shop loading tool ensures the right techs are assigned the right jobs.

But even a good dispatcher can only do so much. ROs need to be turned over to the dispatch desk almost immediately after they’re written. My recommendation is to have tablets to write and send ROs directly to the dispatcher. Having the right software solutions in service is just as critical as having the right CRM in the front end.

Failing to continuously communicate with customers

Customers should be informed every step of the way during a repair. Inform the customer immediately if a new problem is spotted. Make sure you provide a clear description of the problem and a picture of what’s wrong. This proves you are transparent, credible and trustworthy.

A J.D. Power study found just 2% of customers are recipients of service alerts via texts or emails. Think of how much your service department could separate itself from the competition if it implemented text messaging.

The parts department can improve communication with the customer too. Contact the customer as soon as a special order part arrives. Too often I see service departments receive a special order part that sits for days before they reach out to the vehicle owner.


These changes do more than create efficiency and profit; they make your service department a more desirable place for customers to do business. Your commitment, consistency, and accommodation to your customers is important. Maybe you’re great with customer interaction, but behind the scenes you lack a strong process. Or, you might have the best techs, but fall short when it comes to customer interactions. Either way, both areas – customer-facing and non – need to be strong and feed off of each other. Commit to improving all areas of service and watch what happens.

For more information on training and system utilization improvement, contact Reynolds Consulting Services at 800.657.9784 or send us an email, consulting@reyrey.com.

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Fixed Operations Consultant

Mike Follina is an ASE certified technician who has worked in the automotive industry for over 30 years. He joined Reynolds and Reynolds in 2016 and specializes in fixed operations consulting and training, helping service and parts departments improve their processes.

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