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Technology can't fix everything

Don't expect electronic courtesy checks to fully solve human problems
Tuesday, February 2, 2016 - 09:00
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Don't expect electronic courtesy checks to fully solve human problems

This article was written with the help of Coaching Team Leader George Zeeks.

We have all witnessed firsthand the benefits and sometimes disadvantages of new technology in our careers as shop owners. I spent almost 35 years helping shop owners invest in new technology so I believe I know a thing or two about it. I was in one of our classrooms last month and overheard our coaching team leader, George Zeeks, teach a class on how to get the most out of electronic tablets currently used in the shops. I was thinking I wish I had had George when I was in the automotive equipment business. Here is George’s story: It was dark by the time I arrived at Columbus, Georgia, otherwise known as Fort Benning, the home of the infantry. My grandson had been training there, and after working a full day I had caught a late flight. Everything is going smooth. All I want to do at this point is get to my hotel. I collect my keys. I go to the car. I load my luggage. I sit in the driver’s seat. I can’t start the car. I drive a car that has keys and they go into an ignition. I couldn’t find a place to put the key.

George continues: Keep in mind that I have spent a large part of my life in the automotive field. I know that the new cars don’t have ignition switches, but my older truck does. The problem is that at 10 o’clock at night, tired after a very long day, I just plain forgot. I felt silly 15 minutes later when I saw the button that said “Push to Start.” Technology is a great thing and it exists to help make our lives easier. We have a ton of new technology coming out to help us run our shops better. The real question is, are we ready enough for it to help us?

Two Electronic Courtesy Checks Done Right?

Electronic courtesy checks are all the rage with the new technology available to us. The problem is, are we doing a good job with the courtesy checks now? First, you have to have two different checks. One for waiters and one for the drop-offs. The biggest issue for a waiting customer is time. If it takes you longer than 15 minutes to start your presentation, you’re probably out of luck. I want you to keep in mind that this customer has not been seen by anyone for at least three to five thousand miles. It is our job to let them know what they need for current, pending or maintenance issues. If we take so long that we can’t or don’t let them know what the car will need, in a clear and logical fashion, then we are not doing a proper service. The fact that you now have a tablet system to help expedite the process doesn’t fix a broken process. A crew that doesn’t do good courtesy checks, in a timely manner, with a paper checklist, will not do them with a tablet. That is just the reality that we face.

Throwing some new gadgets at a problem does not make the problem go away. The one big advantage is that, when an owner spends the money to install a tablet system, they usually invest some time in training to make sure it pays some dividends. Time spent training is still time spent training. Whether it’s on paper or electronic, both will pay off. The customers, technicians and the owners all end up better off.

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