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Work Smarter, Not Harder: 5 Simple Steps to Improve Your Shop Efficiency

In our last post, we talked about the evolution of customer expectations and how brands like Amazon, Netflix and Uber have delivered on convenience and instant gratification. If you think there’s no opportunity for a dealership service department to capitalize on these trends, think again. Running your shop like a well-oiled, modern machine has numerous benefits, all of which lead to extra dollars in your pocket.

Customers crave convenience, quick appointments and easy communication. By removing roadblocks in your workflow and investing in smart tools, you’ll prove to customers that you’re considering their needs and attempting to make their lives easier. That’s all anyone wants from a brand, right?

Step 1. Invest in a workhorse workflow tool

You need a system that does it all: marketing, appointments, inspections, shuttling and invoicing. Logging in and out of separate systems for a single vehicle inspection or routine maintenance causes unnecessary lag across the department. Drivers want to get back on the road quickly, and the time you save by keeping all your digital operations on a single platform is gold. A single workflow that houses all your checklists, task management and repair order information is an absolute essential for a successful, profitable service department.

Step 2. Make smart hiring decisions

You can spot a skilled technician pretty easily. But these days, a tech has to be a master at vehicle maintenance and repair, time-management and be technologically-savvy. A tech who can efficiently operate the newest kits, tools and systems is a huge value to your business. The shortage of vehicle technicians is placing a huge strain on the industry, but these statistics don’t have to spell doomsday for your service department—use this as an opportunity to invest in the labor pool you have, focus on building the skills of your staff and educating them so they can contribute more output for the department.

phone messagingStep 3. Install an instant messaging portal for better communication

Hello, 21st Century. The time of shouting across the shop floor to ask a simple question is over. Your team needs to be plugged into a messaging portal that’s reliable, easy to manage and keeps a clean history of conversations. And as the fixed ops director or service manager, you need to enforce that it’s actually used by everyone. When half your team is messaging instantly, and the other half is still relying on department phones or good old face to face communication, you lose valuable time speaking to actual customers. Getting everyone on the same system gives widespread visibility to your ops and helps keep the team informed.

Step 4. Perfect inspections

The electronic inspection system has been the standard for a long time, but it’s time for your business to adopt a system that can do more than just inspections. Invest in a full-service command center inspection tool that gives you control over your entire shop, with communication tools, parts inventory integration and a service pricing guide. When your scheduled inspections are humming along, your service drive is freed up to take in more appointments.

Step 5. Cut down on parts delays

Putting a repair on hold to wait for a part is an unnecessary roadblock in your department’s flow. These days, cutting down on parts delays with a part delivery system, like AutoPoint’s Parts OnDemand, saves significant time in the bays, creating opportunities for more appointments on the service drive.

Parts OnDemand is just one of the features in AutoPoint’s Mobility & Logistics solutions suite. Check out our post on another essential shuttle solution, Shuttle OnDemand, which integrates with Lyft ride-sharing to free up your loaner fleet and credit customers for extended periods.”

Bonus: Step 6. Eliminate phone tag with your customers by providing status updates via text

Neither you nor your customer has time to leave multiple messages or wait on hold just to get a vehicle update. Implementing a messaging system that can send automatic repair status updates saves you and your staff countless hours in any given week, and also delivers on customer expectations. Far too many businesses are still relying on personal phone calls to relay customer info—you have the opportunity to set the bar for vehicle servicing and reinforce your brand by choosing modern convenience over old and time-consuming methods. Your staff will be more productive, and your customer will be informed in the way they’ve come to expect.


AutoPoint was founded in 2003 with the intent to create better tools for dealership service departments. We were a small company, hungry to innovate and provide our customers with the latest digital solutions to increase productivity and customer retention.

In 2014 our business was transformed—AutoPoint was acquired by Solera Holdings, Inc. With Solera’s resources and leadership principles, our once small company now dominates the fixed operations space and supports critical transactions across the vehicle lifecycle. We were hungry to be the best, and with Solera, now we are.

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