Bugs in the System

How to ensure your techs know the service information system.

Have you ever taken in a vehicle that your techs struggled to diagnose? They might be great Toyota techs, but with a Ford do they spend too much time on your service information system? You might think: “My guys can figure it out.” Even if that’s true, where do they begin figuring it out?
Depending on the service issue, your techs might dive in without seeking any background on the vehicle. Or they might begin by digging through your service information system to get a better understanding of how the thing works. Or they might simply trust their experience-based diagnostic subscription to find solutions that others have applied to the same vehicle.

Know this: Your team is not service ready, and you’re losing money.
Look out into your shop right now. Do you recognize any of those diagnostic strategies? Observe each technician work through their entire solution process. Here’s what to look for:

  • The absence of any referencing of your service information system.
  • Long periods of researching your service information system.
  • Repeated trips between the vehicle and the service information system.
  • Those symptoms offer clues to how service-ready your team is. So let’s talk about which system you should have in your shop and examine best practices for using service information.

It’s safe to say that the gold standard for a vehicle’s service information is the OEM. All aftermarket systems license OEM information because it’s the standard. But the biggest difference between OEM information systems and aftermarket systems is the way the information is presented.

Aftermarket systems typically reformat OEM information, making every manufacturer’s data look alike. And while OEM systems include more information, aftermarket systems make decisions when reformatting the data about what to include or omit.

I’m not going to tell you which system I recommend. But I will suggest that the best system is the one that provides a single, easy-to-use interface that allows you to find what you’re looking for and presents the OEM service information in an unedited form.

To be service ready, you and your team must become familiar with your service information choice – not by using it during a vehicle service check, but by practice and diligence ahead of time to better understand how to use it when you need to.

Instead of spending 30 minutes trying to find the information you need or running back and forth between the car and the system, why not do this? Challenge your team to enhance their skills in advance. Devise scenarios that will test their knowledge of how to navigate the system and search for data. Or, give them a problem that can’t be found in the system and requires them to call the tech support line.

When incorporated into your processes, those assessments will give your team members the training they need to become service information specialists and ensures they’ll be service ready.

At the end of the day, service information systems are complex tools that your team must be familiar with to make them work efficiently and effectively. Unused systems can prove difficult to navigate when you need to solve a problem. During your next shop meeting, charge each tech with with the responsibility of teaching a new vehicle they serviced using information they found in your system.