The busy season is in full swing. Tensions are running high. When things get busy, any inefficiencies at your dealership become glaringly obvious.

Last month, I wrote an article in collaboration with MAC about 5 questions you can ask yourself to assess your service department for areas that could be improved by automation. Now I’m going to share 5 common service department bottlenecks and how you can fix them using automation software. 

While these suggestions aren’t the secret code to solving all your dealership’s problems, they can help you significantly cut down on time-wasting manual tasks and miscommunications amongst your team and with your customers. 

Speed up communications between the service office & technicians using mobile messaging

Toyota’s famous concept of the 7 wastes of lean production identifies “motion” as a cause for extended production time. Think about how much time are your technicians and service office spending communicating with each other — walking around looking for the person they need to talk to, stopping to chat along the way, before finally communicating their message. If the message is delivered on a paper slip, we’re leaving room for that slip to be set aside, forgotten or mislocated. 

But dealership service productivity software can streamline that whole process by facilitating those conversations via text message. That way, the service office can send a message to technicians using a service app, which the technicians can receive on their phones or tablets — instant communication and nobody had to go anywhere. 

Automate work order status updates

If companies like Postmates and Apple are sending text message updates to customers throughout the sales cycle, why shouldn’t your dealership? Text messaging isn’t just the way of the future — it’s the way of the now. According to Statista, text messaging was the second most popular way customers contacted businesses in 2020. 

“If you don’t have an effective calendar for scheduling recurring service appointments with your customers, you’re leaving money on the table…”

A common complaint from customers is they don’t know what is going on with the status of their equipment. When in doubt, over communicate. But over communication takes a lot of time and coordination, right? 

Take a page out of the book of e-commerce and delivery businesses and send status updates to customers throughout the sales and service cycle. A dealership management systems with built-in a customer relationship manager will make that possible. 

Automate invoicing to the customer and collect payments digitally

These days, it’s standard for businesses to offer digital payment methods, by email or text message. The benefits of this work both ways for you and your customers. On the one hand, they can pay quickly and easily without needing to step foot in your dealership. And on the other hand, you don’t have to wait around as long to collect payments. 

Some dealership management systems have a built-in accounting module which saves you the hassle of rekeying payment information into a separate accounting system. Instead, the information is stored automatically in your general ledger once the payment has been collected. Digitizing your system also makes it a lot easier to keep track of outstanding payments, so you can follow up faster. 

Automate planned maintenance scheduling

If you don’t have an effective calendar for scheduling recurring service appointments with your customers, you’re leaving money on the table. Not to mention, staying on top of a customer’s equipment maintenance will help you uphold your service agreements. A clipboard or spreadsheet can work fine enough, but the problem is you’re still relying on someone to remember to enter and keep track of those appointments. 

But there is dealer software now that lets you schedule recurring maintenance based on time or meter readings once a service agreement has been created. You can take it a step further and even schedule work orders in advance. Then, your system can notify you once a customer’s equipment is due for servicing. 

Use digital job queues and scheduling for technicians to jobs

When your technicians are busy, it can be difficult to determine which team member should be assigned a job. Especially if you have some techs following a job schedule and others handling jobs according to a priority list. Then there’s also the time and motion that gets wasted when techs need to walk over to a board to see what jobs they have lined up. 

But by using a digital service scheduling software, it’s easy to assign techs to jobs based on skillset, you can reduce the headache of scheduling service. Plus, when your schedules are digital, you have the benefit of one single source of truth should any conflicts arise.

Automation Creates Opportunities

The beauty of using automation in the service department is it enables your team to focus on the best, highest impact parts of their jobs. Not only that, but it facilitates communication between team members — one of the pillars of a happy work culture. When your employees are happy, your customers notice.