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How rethinking scheduling can reduce automotive repair cycle times

Many businesses aim to provide the best customer experience possible, but too frequently they fall short of consumers' expectations. For automotive service professionals, the bottom line is essentially providing the highest level of customer satisfaction. No matter how advanced the equipment is, it's always the priority to reduce the amount of time a customer spends without access to their vehicle. While it's an inconvenience to car owners, longer waiting periods ultimately affect a company's profit margins.

Don't keep customers waiting
According to a recent study conducted by TimeTrade, an online scheduling enterprise, more than 66 percent of retailers indicated consumers would drop their purchases and move on to a different location if their needs weren't met within five minutes. This illustrates customers don't like having their patience tested and they're not willing to wait for service. Granted, it's often difficult to anticipate just how many repairs a service center will need to perform on any given day because accidents and breakdowns happen without people planning for them. However, introducing an effective scheduling system can improve the rate at which automotive service professionals provide maintenance to car owners' vehicles.

Itemize what's working and what isn't
Body Shop Business magazine recently emphasized the trouble one collision repair service center had in reducing cycle times. Of importance is the way increasingly long wait times for maintenance can influence the morale of technicians, but also the level of customer satisfaction. When employees are unhappy with the way the business operates, consumers will take notice. When scheduling backs up, technicians fall under increasing pressure to perform repairs as quickly as possible, which can result in less accurate work.

The owners of Logjam Collision Repair told Body Shop Business they had tried to adjust scheduling to reduce cycle times, but it didn't work because employees ignored it. The best way to change a habit, according to the magazine, is through a disciplined, extended approach. The changes must be put into action and tested for 30 days. The service center took a proactive approach to customer service. Instead of waiting for car owners to call about the status of their vehicles, the owners made first contact with the customers to let them know what's happening with their vehicles. Accordingly, there were fewer calls coming in later and disrupting the service center's back office operations. Technicians and estimators were working together first thing in the morning to get paperwork processed, resulting in a 2-day reduction in cycle time after two months of the new scheduling system.

With an improved workflow, customers have their needs met quickly, leading to greater satisfaction and increased revenue.