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Autotext.me Digitial Vehicle Inspection Add-on Feature

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THE SHOP:

The nine-bay Magnolia, Texas–based Christian Brothers Automotive location opened in December of 2010. The shop typically sees 100–115 vehicles per week. It is owned by Jeff and Robin Toth.

The REVIEWER:

Sam Moore is the service advisor of the shop and spends a lot of his time with the autotext.me product. He began working for shop owner Jeff Toth after spending time in his uncle’s Christian Brothers facility in Arkansas. He admired the values of the company and was hired after he spent four years working at a National Tire and Battery location and another locally owned shop in the Magnolia area.

HOW IT WORKS:

The Web-based platform is an add-on feature to the autotext.me communication tool. Autotext.me updates customers on vehicle progress, sends custom messages, photos and follow-up messages through text and email. The Digital Vehicle Inspection add-on feature is a customizable checklist that allows users to go through and take pictures and notes while performing an estimate. The estimate is then sent to the customer through a text message in the autotext.me program that provides a URL link that includes the notes and photos that go along with a particular job.

THE REVIEW:

The shop was one of the first to use the add-on feature and has been using it for about nine months. All four of the master techs, the two general service technicians and the three service writers use the feature to write tickets. All of the technicians at Christian Brothers use their smart phones for the feature, but it can be used through any mobile device. With the tool, notes and photos can be added whenever necessary in the estimate.

One of the features that Moore really enjoys is the speech text, which allows notes to be dictated rather than the technicians having to use their dirty hands to type. Despite the noise in the shop, Moore says that the speech text picks up almost everything. The add-on also allows multiple photos to be sent to the customer creating visual aids that add an element of trust when the shop says work needs to be done.

“The technicians can take a picture of the work that they’re recommending. When the estimate is complete, it’s sent off to the customer and they can see the notes that the technician added,” Moore says.

Before purchasing autotext.me’s estimate function, the shop used the paper-and-pencil method and another digital inspection feature. The shop switched to autotext.me because of its ease of use and the fact that everything can be done online.

Christian Brothers did make a few adjustments to the template, including changing some of the verbiage to match the shop’s services and adding a few spots at the bottom for miscellaneous pictures and additional write-ups that might be needed. The changes to the inspection list were easy to make and now the shop uses the function on every vehicle that requires an inspection.

THE RETURN:

“A picture is worth 1,000 words,” Moore says. “I think in terms of a sales tool, it helps build trust with customers. It doesn’t happen all the time, but there have been a few instances where I’ve had to call the customer and verbally explain to them the work that needs to be done because they haven’t had time to open up their estimate. When I’m finished explaining, they’ll approve a portion of the work. A few customers have called back after opening up the estimate to authorize more work because they are able to visually see the importance of it.”

Moore says that the exact dollar amount is hard to calculate, but the few extra minutes it takes to do the digital inspection have paid off in the extra work that is ordered and the trust that has been established with customers.

“Creating trust encourages people to spend more money. A customer may bring their car in for squeaky brakes, but if a photo is sent that shows a leak in the oil pan, chances are they’ll approve the repair for that as well,” Moore says.


Interested in knowing the impact of a particular auto care product in the shop? Send your suggestions to thereturn@ratchetandwrench.com

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