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Automotive Repair Order Best Practices

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Automotive Repair Order Best Practices

Service teams use auto repair order forms or work orders for every vehicle that pulls into their service drive. This form directs each team member through all repair work. Therefore, a service team must use these standard business forms to their fullest capabilities.

TVI MarketPro3’s Kurt Hankey sat down with us to review the best practices as well as common mistakes to avoid when it comes to this routinely utilized document.

What is an automotive repair order?

“A repair order is a document that’s generated on the service drive and it basically contains all of the customer and vehicle information.” Hankey goes on to explain, “It also records any of the customer requests for service or repairs, and that is what is used throughout the entire process, the service experience.”

automotive repair orders

Digital or paper repair orders?

Automotive service departments use both digital and paper repair orders. “I would say the majority of stores still generate a paper invoice or a paper repair order. But in the shop, the technicians and the advisors, for example, may be operating only on the digital version of it. There are very few shops that do a digital-only, but some do,” says Hankey.

How does a repair order help inform the customer?

Hankey stresses that the customer gets an invoice, which reflects all the same information that was on the repair order with all of the corrections and services that were performed as well as pricing.

The repair order system tracks the repair history. This helps service advisors inform the customer on past services and upcoming needed services.

How can service managers use this to track their own services?

After the repairs are complete, a repair order can be closed. The service manager uses the history provided by closed repair orders to generate timelines by the date of service. This date tells the service manager when it’s time to remind a customer of upcoming services.

When a service manager interacts with a customer, he or she opens up the computer system. Here, they have access to the past repair orders digitally. This helps keep customers and service teams on the same page when discussing a vehicle’s needs.

Repair Order Best Practices

While repair orders are pretty standard, it is critical to remember that they are legal documents. It’s a legal document between the dealership and the customer. It is also legally binding between the dealership and the manufacturer. This is why Hankey stresses “all team members must initiate and finalize repair orders consistently.”

The repair order is “one of the single most important documents for a service department,” says Hankey. Service advisors must make sure all notations and all timestamps are accurate. The manufacturer also uses this document and will periodically ask to see repair order records. In doing so, they will access the actual repair order, not the invoice.

Common mistakes made with repair orders

Busy service drives can make it challenging for service advisors to catch all the details, but one area that shouldn’t be overlooked is the verification of customer data. Every time customers arrive, advisors must double-check their personal contact information and vehicle information.

Questions that should be answered are:

  • Do we have the right phone number?
  • Do we have the right email, or do we even have an email address?
  • Which vehicle are we servicing, and have we serviced this vehicle before?
  • What’s the current mileage of the vehicle?

By skipping this process, you could start creating duplicate customer files on the same vehicle. Every time a car comes in, you must accurately record the current mileage in order to best serve the customer to their specific vehicle needs.

Making detailed notes will also prevent miscommunication with your customers. Service advisors should keep records to specify the underlying cause of the problem. Thorough notes prevent discrepancies when explaining repairs to the customer.

These mistakes can “create financial problems for the dealership,” so service departments need to be consistent and precise when executing a repair order.

Attention to repair order details

Finally, Hankey warns that dealerships should pay close attention to the physical filing of repair orders. The information on the computer screen is valid most of the time, but for legal reasons, “you’ve got to have access to the hard document” as well. An organized and structured system of filing these hard copies will make it easier to pull these documents should the need arise.

Conclusion

The repair order is one of the single most important documents for the service department. It touches every aspect of the customer relationship with the dealership.

The dealer protects itself from legal issues when it ensures these digital and paper documents are handled properly. It also creates a strong means of communication between the customer and the service team. 

A positive customer experience is the number one goal for any dealership. Therefore an advisor should take the time to review proper procedures for these documents to make transactions smooth and seamless.

Check out more service department business resources at TVI MarketPro3.

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