Complete and Thorough Auto Repair Shop Invoicing - Part 3

180biz invoice jot leadership video blog Jun 21, 2021

Invoicing Part 3 - Concern and Cause by Rick White, President 180BIZ

I’ve been talking about invoicing and how important it is to your business. First, I focused on being curious a then about documenting control. Your invoice is so much more important than we give it credit. So today, what I want to talk about is how to document properly.  I’ll talk about two key areas in this episode and more in the next one or two episodes.

First things first.  You want to document the client’s COMPLAINT or CONCERN. Get that written down. Do not put blinders on your technicians. How do you do that? Let's say you have a client that comes in and says, “Hey, I got a noise when I step on the brakes.”  Most advisors would write that up as “check brakes” or “inspect breaks.” That's a mistake. Instead, write it up as “inspect noise” or “diagnosed noise.” Don't put blinders on your tech by telling them to go to the brakes. You don't know what it is.

Now there's a couple of things I want to talk about here that are especially important.

  1. Advisors don't get enough information about the customer's complaint or concern. We get mostly a 30,000-foot view of the complaint or concern. We're in a hurry. We're quick. We want to get off the phone, get onto the next thing, or whatever the case is, but you end up not getting enough information.  This causes your technician to spend all their diagnostic time trying to duplicate the concern, not diagnose it. I'm going to ask you to step up as an advisor and understand exactly what's going on.  Remember to stay curious.

    Write it down in your client's words. Get that documented. The other thing that's really important is to write down everything.  You want to have a bunch of questions. You want to know:
    1. How often is it occurring?
    2. Under what conditions?
    3.  is it constant? Is it intermittent? Is it random?

These all into your ability to be successful. Let's face it. If you have someone come in with a check engine light or a skip that happens once every six months, you're in trouble. You're not going to be able to find it. So, you want to make sure to set yourself up for what I call high win probabilities. You're going to do that by being curious and understanding what the client is concerned about, including their fears.

  1. What are the client's goals? You need to understand this because it's going to help you position your recommendations and solutions in a way that resonates with them. Document exactly what they're saying. That's really important. Then ask the right questions. In my opinion, is you need questionnaires. You need to have standard diagnostic questionnaires for different situations and scenarios that allow anyone on that front counter to ask relevant, timely, and really important questions that are going to help your technician pinpoint the sources of that problem right away. It is so important to have those questionnaires.

Be sure to document their complaint or concern thoroughly. Why? Because if all you put is check engine light on and they come back six months later and the check engine lights on, it's a comeback, even though the light is a symptom in their eyes, it's a comeback.  But if you write check engine light on engine running very rough all the time. And then you go into it more with the second one and say, “okay, are there any drivability concerns? Is it running okay?” They may respond, “Yeah, it's running fine. The light's just on.” Now you can have the conversation about how the light is a symptom and you're going to get paid again. So, the first thing we do is document the complaint or concern accurately and thoroughly to prevent comebacks and to prevent miscommunication.

Then document the CAUSE. Write the steps in so that everyone knows we did this, and we did that, and we did this. Now for the client, that means nothing. But for an advisor, especially an advisor or an owner that has some mechanical background, I'm telling you, seeing the steps that your tech takes is amazing because it increases your confidence.  That's really important. It also builds value in any charges that you're going to charge to figure out what's going on. And I want you to understand this, please. When you're charging for diagnostics, you're not charging for the time it takes that technician to do the job. You're charging for their experience. I don't care if it took them 15 minutes to do it. You're not charging your client that 15 minutes it took to get there, you're charging the 30 years that it took that tech to get to the point where he could diagnose it in 15 minutes. In order to prove that you must show the steps you (the shop) took.

It was funny. At one point I was doing testing and we weren't cheap.  We were probably the most expensive in the area, but we had the reputation of fixing something that no one else could. So we had a car come in with a diagnostic check engine light, and the tech comes back, and literally, it said needs TPS. And I called the tech in, and I told him that was $20 a letter. We need to outline what we did to determine that. So we had to write up a story. With independent shops, in general, we're not good at this. We need better documentation. Whether you're using paper or not, write it down.  Use instant messenger or notes within the management system so that your tech can document completely what they're doing.

Remember, we get paid by the word. The reality is we must document what we're doing so that we can build that value. These are the two things I really want to talk about today, document the client's complaint, and then go through and get the cause documented well.

 God bless, stay safe and go make some money.