According to JR Luna, owner of Concours Motors in Ventura, Calif., the road to taking his shop digital wasn’t always easy—but it’s paid off big in the end.
Since Luna started using SmartFlow, AutoVitals’ digital inspection and workflow management platform, in 2015, his average repair order has increased $33 from $569 to $602 and his annual sales have grown from $1.6 million to slightly under $2 million.
“Take a leap of faith. It’s not going to happen in your comfort zone,” Luna says.
Making the Switch
When Luna first presented SmartFlow to his team, he said he was met with some hesitation. However, he knew what the long-term benefits would be and he took a stance that this was the way it was going to be from now on.
“I think it if I had given them the option, it wouldn’t have worked,” Luna says. “Technicians find a way to resist change, and this was a dramatic shift.”
Luna explained the process to his staff and what the results would be: Customers would be more satisfied, there would be more transparency, and the shop would end up selling more work.
All of these promises came true.
Luna has five technicians at his shop, and he decided to make a game out of it. When the techs first started using SmartFlow, Luna incentivized them by saying that the technician that took the most photos during the inspection process would get a prize.
“It made it a competition and more fun,” Luna says.
He also had prizes for second and third place so that everyone could feel like they had a chance. When the staff first started, the digital inspection process took 25 minutes, which was longer than the handwritten way. Luna says that now that they’ve had time to practice and get the process down, it now takes less than 20 minutes, which is about the same amount of time it took before. The new process has increased the ARO, technician confidence and overall customer satisfaction, Luna says.
For shop owners that are met with hesitation, Luna says to just stick with it.
“If someone is not willing to make a change and give it a chance, they’re not willing to do what’s best for the shop,” Luna says.
The Digital Advantage
“We’re walking around on smartphones, yet we’re handling ROs that are oily or have handwriting that isn’t legible—it didn’t make sense,” Luna says.
Before, when Luna and his team were doing handwritten inspections, things were being overlooked, which led to missed sales opportunities. The team had no uniform structure to its ROs and the notes were often unorganized. For example, a repair order might have a note that the vehicle needed bushings and ball joints, but they might be so far apart on the messy RO sheet that the writer might miss it and therefore miss an opportunity for sales. With digital inspections, this is no longer a problem.
The ability to receive organized information, take photos and store vehicle information has been a major benefit, Luna says. When he’s able to show a customer that there’s something wrong with his or her vehicle, the customer is far more likely to agree to the service. Storing photos and information has also helped him with customers who claim additional damage or issues were caused by work in the shop. For example, if a customer claims there’s a new scratch on their vehicle, Luna can go in and show them the photos that were taken when the vehicle was taken in and point out the prior damage.
Improved Organization and Communication
The service writers at Concours Motors have dedicated monitors for SmartFlow, which has allowed them to quickly pull up and view the status of each vehicle. Luna says that the way that the status screen is divided has made it so that service advisors can dispatch technicians and anyone in his shop can answer questions and make decisions about a customer’s car quickly.
Luna says that AutoVitals has improved communication between the front and the back of his shop through the chat feature in SmartFlow. The feature allows the staff to communicate wherever they are in the shop without having to leave their work.
AutoVitals also has digital standard operating procedures (DSOP) for using SmartFlow that Luna said helped ease his team into the transition. Luna explains that the DSOP outlines every step of the process, from greeting the customer to delivering the vehicle. For more information about SmartFlow at Luna's shop please visit autovitals.com/concoursmotors.
AutoVitals also has a support group on Facebook. Since its inception a little more than a year ago, the group has grown from 20 members to almost 2,000. Luna says the group helps answer common questions and facilitates discussions among members.
Discuss with Luna and other peers how to go Digital at www.facebook.com/groups/AutoVitalsPartners