Running a Shop Shop Floor Tools and Equipment

A Unique Valet Customer Check-In Process

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What It Is: A customer check-in “valet” service using designated parking spots next to the shop’s front door.

The Inspiration: “The biggest complaint we’ve ever gotten about our business from the customer, in their own words, is ‘Dave, I love coming to you, but you’re always so busy,’” Hillside Auto Repair owner Dave Carney says. Customer check-in was a bottleneck in Hillside Auto Repair’s work flow. Customers, vendors, employees and others were creating a gridlock in the shop’s small parking lot.

So he looked to streamline the customer check-in process.

“As they turn the wheel of their car and their wheels hit the curb coming onto our lot, they’ve already chosen us,” Carney says. “We don’t want to have any obstacles between them and the completion of the deal.”

What It Does: The shop has three parking spots plus one handicap spot for customer check-ins. When a customer pulls into the lot, the parking spaces are open. The customer is greeted immediately by a service advisor who collects the vehicle’s vital data such as the VIN, mileage and tire pressure. Hillside Auto Repair keeps a record of this information, so when the customer returns for the next service appointment, the paperwork is nearly complete. As soon as the information is recorded, a technician is there with seat and carpet covers to immediately valet the vehicle back into the shop so the it isn’t left sitting in the parking space when the next customer pulls in.

How It’s Made: Carney designated the three spaces with simple signs at the front of each.

Cost: It cost $50 to make the signs. Carney didn’t spend any money to repurpose the existing parking spots.

ROI: Carney says the system works great, because if they can get vehicles off the lot and back into the shop more quickly, they can open up time to take on more jobs. However, Carney says the biggest difference is the overall customer attitude.

“It all starts with the attitude of honoring that relationship with the customer. All this is the soft stuff that makes the customer feel special when they come here,” he says. “That stuff is priceless.”

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