“Walk arounds? Heck, we don't have time to do those.”

Myth #1.

“The customer feels that you are looking for more work when you do a walk around.”

Myth #2.

“If the customer was that concerned, he would have mentioned it when he dropped off the car.” Myth #3.

There are 1,001 one excuses for not doing a “walk around” — a service writer's quick inspection to see what work a vehicle might need in addition to why the customer is there in the first place.

In fact, you're doing customers a disservice by not getting everything done on their cars right then and there.

Most service managers and certainly dealers can't argue that having their service writers doing more walk arounds will improve service and parts business.

Let's see: Would it increase the hours per repair order? Duh. How about keeping their technicians busier? Inevitably! How about lowering the number and frequency of insurance claims by customers? Undoubtedly! How about selling more parts and accessories? For sure! How about providing better customer service with a one-stop shop? Count on it.

The problem is: how do service managers motivate their advisors to get off their duffs and do it more often?

That's tough. Sometimes the layout of the service department is a problem. Some service departments are more conducive to walk arounds by virtue of where the cars are dropped off.

However, there are ways around this. For example, some dealerships that do not have the luxury of service drive-through lanes have improvised. One way is to erect a large over-hanging canopy outside the service department.

It shelters the customers and theirs vehicles from the elements while also funneling the customers to park right outside the service area. Hence, easier access for a walk around.

The other solution to this problem is to change the habit and mindset of the advisors or appointment coordinators so that they stagger the work orders as much as possible. This means filling up the appointment schedule like this:

Service advisor #1

7:15 Mr. Pete Swellbody

7:30 Miss Jane Loyal

7:45 Mr. Dave Constantprob

8:00 Mrs. L. Sweetness

8:15 Mrs. Rachel Carwreck

By staggering the work it will leave 10-15 minutes with each customer and avoid the big rush between 7:30 and 8:00 a.m.

Another solution might be to change the advisors' pay plan so that they are more eager to enjoy the benefits of conducting an effective walk around. (For further information on compensation plans, feel free to contact me; see contact information below.)

Still another way to get advisors and write-up personnel to do walk arounds is to educate them on how they're done. Here is a brief list of things to watch for when doing a walk around:

Exterior:

  • Door dings, scratches, cosmetic imperfections

  • Tire wear-uneven, cupping or feathering (could mean alignments?)

  • Bumper dings/scratches (bounced off a curb or two — maybe alignment?)

  • Rock chips (hood bra, bug deflector or box liner accessory sale)

  • Windshield rock chips, damage (fix now or replace windshield later)

  • Broken valve stems, caps missing

  • Windshield wipers (Ask: the last time it rained did your wipers clear properly?)

  • Antenna's broken or doesn't retract fully

  • Paint protection (improves appearance, protects paint from sun's harmful rays)

  • Mudflaps broken or missing (keeps vehicle cleaner reduces likelihood of paint chips)

  • Hubcap or center caps missing

  • Headlights (cracks, condensation in headlights can signify replacement of light or lens)

Interior:

  • Upholstery/vinyl repairs (Scotch-garding)

  • Interior Detail (Before selling/trading or just maintenance)

  • De-smoking (Ionized)

  • Window tinting (protects life of dash and upholstery and improves appearance)

  • HVAC vents broken

  • Seat, upholstery shampooing

  • Missing knobs

  • Broken/missing door handles

  • 5-speed shifter boot cracked or torn

A thorough walk around should always start at the rear of the vehicle (preferably passenger rear) walking counter clockwise noting and mentioning things while walking around. The advisor should conclude by opening the driver's door and recording the exact mileage.

The process should take but two or three minutes. That could yield an extra $2,000 or so in gross sales for every advisor every month. That's time well spent.


Dave Skrobot is president of dealer Strategies, a fixed operations performance company and an affiliate of Automotive Sales College. He can be reached at 1-888-681-SELL.