Are DVIs Failproof?
SHOP STATS: Monroe Tire and Service Location: Shelby N.C. Owner: Chris Monroe Staff Size: 10 Shop Size: 7,700 square feet Number of Lifts/Bays: 9 lifts and 10 bays Average Monthly Car Count: 618 ARO: $240 Annual Revenue: $1,780,000
Performing vehicle inspections is an integral part of the repair process. But with paper inspections, too often the task can become an afterthought in a rush to check boxes and speed to the next task, says Chris Monroe, owner of Monroe Tire & Service in Shelby N.C.
Monroe introduced digital vehicle inspections (DVIs) with the hopes that a greater focus would be put on the task and that the shop would benefit from having a digitized and centralized system to track them. But are DVIs a fail-safe option?
Monroe began implementing DVIs early on at his shop, around 2015. He’s used several different DVI platforms, from AutoVitals to BOLT ON TECHNOLOGY, and now to autotext.me. The initial challenge was making sure it was compatible with other shop software, like R writer. Then one he switched his shop management system to Protractor, he needed to switch his DVI tool again, that’s when he chose autotext.me. Monroe has become a big proponent of DVIs since he began using them, enjoying the transparency and accountability that the system provides.
A switch from entirely paper inspections to DVIs has been a major upgrade at Monroe’s shop, but it is no saving grace.
“I get bored and tired of hearing the Hail Mary and saving grace stories because they don’t tell you about the challenges that come with DVIs and boy there are some,” he says.
An inspection can still be sped through and done poorly. Bad pictures can be taken. Insufficient descriptions can be attached. If technicians aren’t committed to doing the inspection right, DVIs won’t help, he says. The challenge to using DVIs is putting the right systems in place and framing the right mindset to make sure the tool is used effectively.
Transparency over productivity.
One of the main benefits that are often discussed with DVIs is efficiency. Monroe has seen it in his shop, with the tools a DVI platform provides, the inspections are done quicker and more accurately. But that’s not his top priority, transparency is.
“The productivity piece was secondary and it still is,” he says. “For customers, there’s always this doubt, ‘are they telling me what I need to know?’ With DVIs it’s easy to show exactly what they need to know.”
Employees can quickly show customers pictures of their vehicle that were taken during the inspection and lay out why it needs to be fixed. The digitization of the report allows the customer to receive an online copy of the inspection and it allows for easy access to information on the employer side.
Monroe says if productivity is prioritized over transparency, you’re doing it wrong. Changing the team’s mindset to fit this has allowed them to realize that productivity will come if the main motivator is being transparent, he says.
“We’re not here to sell you something, we’re there to maintain cars and I think the business that can create the most transparency and can demonstrate their abilities most efficiently is the one customers are going to choose to do business with.”
Culture is key.
Shifting a technician’s mindset away from thinking the inspection is just an arbitrary part of the repair process is vital.
“If they don’t understand the reason for implementation, you’re dead in the water,” Monroe says.
For that reason, Monroe seeks out feedback from customers relating to the inspection. When his technicians hear that, “it’s a game changer.” When a technician performs a really good DVI, Monroe will send it in the group chat to the rest of the technicians. When a technician performs a sloppy inspection, those also go in the group chat. Everything in the name of transparency and accountability. Monroe wants to see good photos, a fully completed inspection and comments. Pencil whipping (the act of quickly and flippantly completing an inspection) doesn’t just go away when a DVI platform is implemented, it can happen on any platform, Monroe says. The culture is what will make it productive.
Monroe also works as a business coach for Elite. The biggest mistake he sees with others’ DVI implementation is a lack of training. Monroe estimates the average shop is using just 20 percent of the software’s capabilities. Shops will understand the original orientation and then think it’s good enough and move on, never going back to see everything it can do.
Monroe is on the phone monthly with autotext.me setting up zoom training sessions for himself and his employees. He also recommends having a dedicated IT person during the installation, whether it’s the owner, a technician, a tech-savvy employee, or an outside source. Set yourself up for success from the beginning.
Monroe has seen about an 18 percent increase in ARO since he put the DVIs in place. However, the bigger benefit he’s seen has come in customer trust. The shop’s ability to be transparent has been pivotal in developing a good rapport with customers. When Monroe tells a customer they need a brake repair, he’s able to send photos and videos right to the customers’ phone. The customer can see that Monroe isn’t just giving his opinion, it is actually needed. Those interactions have left Monroe more satisfied than any ARO numbers.
Anything can be pencil whipped. It’s not about the provider or the platform, Monroe says. It’s about the shop. Don’t put DVIs in place and expect a bad inspection system to suddenly get better. Instilling the right mindset and specific shop processes are the key to making the most of and reaping rewards from the tool.