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  Collision Feature

How to Improve Customer Pay, CSI, Cycle Time with Vehicle Check-In

Posted 08/1/2013
By Leona Dalavai Scott

Learn how a simple process for checking in vehicles at the time of a repair can reduce your cycle time and increase sales.


Every collision repairer has been there: The frustration when a customer comes to pick up their vehicle only to complain about a scratch or ding that was there when they dropped off their vehicle, but only noticed it now. That puts repairers in a tough spot … having to defend themselves and remove the blame from their shops.

How can scenarios like this be avoided? By having a formal vehicle check-in process. And the added bonus (or two) would be that it can improve your shop’s customer service index (CSI) score, have a positive effect on key performance indicators (KPIs), reduce your cycle time and increase sales, by increasing your opportunities to upsell jobs.

Scott Benavidez, owner of Mister B’s Paint & Body, Albuquerque, N.M., and assistant director of ASA’s collision operations committee, remembers the frustration that his shop would experience when the shop’s technicians would chase a window or door lock problem only to realize that it was like that before the accident.

“Batteries were also a big problem because we put such a toll on them while they are here at the shop. Vehicles that are 2010 or older may start to need a battery, and we talk with the customer about this while they are dropping their vehicle off with us,” says Benavidez.

Through trial and error, Mister B’s Paint and Body developed a simple vehicle check-in form that is initialed by the manager and the customer. It consists of questions such as:

  • Dash info lights on?
  • Windows working?
  • Door locks working?
  • How old is the battery?
  • Interior condition?
  • Stripes tape/painted?
  • How many people in vehicle at time of accident?

By having some type of formal vehicle check-in list in place, it helps avoid confusion later. April Hernandez, AAM, owner of Hernandez Collision Center, Savannah, Ga., says her shop’s vehicle check-in process allows her team to be as thorough as possible on the front end.

“Many people do not pay attention to damage on their vehicles (other than the damaged areas from an accident), but always notice it when they are inspecting their vehicle when they pick it up after repairs. By identifying these items with the vehicle owner present – prior to the start of the repairs – we prevent any suspicions that damage happened while the vehicle was in our care,” says Hernandez.

Benavidez says that not only did his shop benefit from increased CSI as a result of the check-in process, but the KPI score went up as well. By clearly outlining any problems from the start, his technicians know which issues are the shop’s responsibility vs. what damage existed prior to when the car came in. Before, they were losing precious cycle time trying to address problems that existed prior to the collision.

Upsell opportunities

Collision repairers say another great benefit to a check-in process is since it reveals prior damage to the vehicle, customers may elect to have that damage repaired while their vehicle is already in the shop.

“Identifying the prior damage gives us the potential to sell additional work, and bringing the color match issues to the customer’s attention – from bumpers to fenders, for example – prevents any problems that may exist when the vehicle is delivered. This increases CSI and also creates the potential for additional sales,” Hernandez says.

Steve Tomaszewski, owner of Alpine Collision Center, Grand Rapids, Mich., would agree.

“We also bring attention to/upsell for stone chips,” he says, “which addresses both the customers’ and our painters’ expectations of the finished product, which eliminates bottlenecks in the paint department. Our standard operating procedure is that unless documented, the body/ refinish techs must repair all damage.”

Benavidez says his shop takes the opportunity to sell detailing services at the time of repair since it may be a convenient time for customers to consider such services. Scheduling the service at vehicle check-in time is not only efficient, it also increases customer pay jobs.

If your shop does not have a formal vehicle check-in process in place, it is time to think about it. It’s a simple and efficient way to schedule jobs, while creating sales opportunities and improving your cycle time.



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