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The Business of Diagnostics: Perception

In the previous article in this series, Andy suggested having systems in place could help reframe people’s perceptions so that everyone has the same frame of reference. Here, Andy explains the difference between a process and a system using a diagnostic assessment as an example.

Figure 1

Processes are the steps required to complete a task.

Processes, improve efficiency.

Systems are the interface between the person, the technology used, and the process. There must be a bridge.
Systems improve effectiveness.

The process outlines how it’s done and the system’s interface between the various technologies used to do it.

It is a subtle difference, but what they have in common is a need for optimisation. You should always be seeking to improve both your systems and your processes.

What is the difference between effectiveness and efficiency?
Most people think they are one and the same. Efficiency is doing things right. Effectiveness is doing the right things.

Very subtle, but ever so slightly different. You can be efficient, without being effective. For example, if you have just changed the two rear tyres in record time, you were mega efficient. But, if that car needed its front tyres changed, you weren’t very effective.

The system, remember this is the interface, between the person the technology and the task, should have identified which tyres to change. The process was changing the tyres. Now you can see how a person can be really efficient but not very effective, simply because they changed the wrong tyres.

The same logic can be applied to any member of staff when they discuss the work to be carried out on a customer’s vehicle. Is there a bridge between the people involved, the technology used and the process? The process in this case is taking a booking. The systems identify the customer request,

communicate the offer, agree or not to proceed, take the booking and take payment. The technology could be a garage management system, the telephone, a card payment terminal etc.

Figure 1 shows a simple system for dealing with prospective customers, having a template to record the customer request results in the correct offer being communicated (or the correct tyres being replaced).

In this case, a warning light is illuminated, and the colour, shape and method of illumination have been established. The template asks a series of questions that will help the technician. They form part of the Primary Data capture. Having established that a diagnostic assessment is required, the garage can present its offer.

Using the 4 C’s of the offer system

1. The Contract is clear

The customer is made aware of the work to be carried out in plain English.

2. Communication

The methods and frequency of communication between the garage and the customer are agreed upon and recorded.

3. Count

Both the time required, and the cost are agreed upon.

4. Consensus

Both the customer and the garage must see the offer as a win- win situation.

Using a system to present your offer results in a consistent approach to dealing with customers, see Figure 2.

Figure 2

Using the example of a diagnostic assessment:

1. The Contract is clear

The customer is told using language an 8-year could understand (no jargon) that a series of tests will be carried out to prove what is or is not wrong with the vehicle. After which, the garage will report its findings (and make another offer).

5. Communication

The customer prefers to be contacted by telephone, although they are not able to answer their phone at work, they are on lunch between 12 and 1 pm and finish work at 4.30 pm. The

garage agrees to call during the customer’s lunch break with an update.

6. Count

The assessment will be carried out before 12 pm and the cost is £100.

7. Consensus

Both the customer and the garage see this offer as a fair exchange, (win-win) this is a bit like the TV show deal or no deal, both parties must agree it is in their interest to proceed. As a final check, the garage asks the customer to outline the offer.

They ‘expect to know more via a phone call at lunchtime and hope it doesn’t cost much more than the £100 they have already paid’. This ensures there is no confusion, and acts as a final check that everything is crystal clear and recorded.

With agreement on what work will be carried out, when and how long it will take, the channels of communication established, and the price agreed. The final step is taking payment. Some garages find this much more difficult than others, but the assessment may be in two weeks’ time, the best way to ensure that the customer turns up is to take payment now.

When the customer arrives, go over the diagnostic template with them, and ask if there is anything else they can add. Or if anything has changed since they spoke. Confirm they are clear with what work you are about to undertake and when and how you will contact them.

The technician will use a diagnostic process, similar to the one shown in Figure 3. The use of systems and processes will make sure the garage is both effective and efficient.

Figure 3

Next time, Andy closes the diagnostic process loop by evaluating performance.

For more ideas, advice and free training why not join the Garage Owners Network Facebook group?

About Autotechnician
Autotechnician is a magazine published nine times a year, delivering essential information to independent garage owners and technicians in the UK. Delivered both digitally and in print, autotechnician provides readers with technical, training, business advice, product and news, allowing our readers to keep up to date with information they need to run and work within a modern workshop.
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