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3 Ways to Maximize Bookkeepers

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Susan Harrison
Any front office staff member can help out service advisors when necessary.

Susan Harrison’s official title at Titan Auto & Tire is bookkeeper, but as owner Butch Taylor can attest, she helps the business, and its service advisors, in many other facets.

Harrison has worked with Titan Auto & Tire since 2004, joining six months after the Virginia-based business started, and Taylor says she’s grown exponentially since joining the business.

As a bookkeeper, she’s helped the business through two expansions, moving from a small four-bay shop to an eight-bay shop in 2008, and again to a second location in 2014 with nine bays. Taylor nominated Harrison for a Ratchet+Wrench All-Star Award in the admin category 2017, and says she always keeps him in check when it comes to spending and the shop’s budget.

“Whenever I’m spending money, I have Susan right on my shoulder,” he says with a laugh. “Then I contemplate, what is Susan gonna say?”

Harrison says she started out as a staff member who simply paid the bills, but gradually became more comfortable in handling other aspects of the shop’s operations. There are two service advisors at the shop with over 400 cars coming in each month, and Taylor says he can count on Harrison if he needs extra help in that area. She usually is only in the office on Mondays and Thursdays, but he’ll schedule her if one of the service advisors is out, or if he needs additional help.

“In a lot of ways she’s really a partner in the business, not just an employee,” Taylor says. “She cares for it just as much as I do.”

Drawing off of Harrison’s experiences, here are three ways that the role of bookkeeper can be maximized in the shop.

 

1) Answer the phone when needed.

She answers the phones from time to time to schedule appointments, or answer any basic questions that a customer might have when calling in. She knows how to look up if a customer’s car is ready, along with whether it’s finished or not, and is available as a reference tool for customers.

“It’s just a part of being on the team,” Harrison says. “I don’t mind taking a message when the phone is busy or anything like that.”

Taylor says it’s incredibly helpful to have an additional staff member handle these calls and take direct action instead of just answering the phone and passing it off. Taylor says she always has a friendly demeanor when dealing with customers, and is very personable.

 

2) Handle returns and cores.

When service advisors are overwhelmed or too busy to handle returns, Harrison steps in to organize parts and cores, and make sure the necessary items are returned at the end of the month. Harrison makes sure every part is accounted for, either on a repair order or on a return, and that no dollars are lost in the process. This might mean following up with vendors to make sure everything is handled the way it should be.

Additionally she’ll handle purchasing and managing office supplies in the shop, making sure service advisors have everything they need.

 

3) Make customers feel comfortable.

The office is a small glass office in the waiting area, so customers coming in see Harrison and know when she’s there to chat. So, she might go around talking to them as she waters plants, or while they sit in the waiting room waiting for an appointment. Taylor says that customers will often come into the shop just to talk about their life and family with her.

“I’m here speaking to the customers, recognizing them, trying to help them feel at home. Just making the customers feel comfortable in the store,” Harrison says. “With women and children even more so, because they might not feel as comfortable in an auto repair shop.

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