Don’t Fumble the Delivery
Last time, we discussed the first part of the concept of doing more with less. This month, we’ll dig further into that concept, starting after the car gets out of paint. It's Friday afternoon now, and the car is sitting in the detail bay getting washed up. We could get the latest and greatest products that are auto diluted on a rack for us to save us time and money, or hire a detail contractor for the position since detailers are unreliable and they don’t want to work as it is. I even know of shops that take the nice ones up the street to the detail shop because they don’t trust the detail department.
My recommendation is let’s try to cut down on our mess as it is. Do not put parts in the car, tape up any openings, and try to keep the vehicle clean as we go. Then, hire a detailer and let them know how important their job really is.
The first thing that gets noticed is how clean the car is and how much it sings. We can install a quarter panel using the most expensive welder by the best technicians, then have the best spray gun this side of the mountains spray it with the finest basecoat and high solids clear, but, if that quarter glass has fingerprints on it, or we left the old clips sitting on the floor board, that job just went from perfect to not acceptable in the blink of an eye. Get a clean, well lit area, and wash that vehicle top to bottom: get the jambs, the trunk, and under the hood. Then when you drive it around the front keep a chamois with you to wipe off the water spots that drip.
Our customer, Ms. Smith, is now on her way to pick up the vehicle. We could give the car back to our intake and delivery department to nail the customer service portion. We could hang the old rearview mirror tag that says “Your business matters to us.” We could have the manager walk out and deliver each one. We could set up an inside delivery bay with a coffee bar, shiny floors and company banners hung everywhere.
But if we don’t do the basics all the way though none of this will matter. Schedule a delivery time. Don’t just ask them to show up. That way, we are able to go help them and not be with someone already. Re-explain the repair to them; don’t let them try to decipher the estimate. They don’t know what R/I means. If it says “R/I bumper,” many customers assume you replaced or fixed their bumpers. Walk around the car and show them what you did and how great it looks. Explain to avoid machine car washes for a while, and show them how great the detail looks too. Tell them you hope you never see them again (yes, it is cheesy, but it works—trust me).
And please, for the love of collision repair, know where the money is coming from before you deliver that car.
It is so easy today to get lost in what is next or what is the greatest. But these things should be in addition to your basics, not in lieu of them. Greet customers with respect; set expectations properly, write a fair and accurate repair order; explain it to the technician and set your expectations there; order your parts properly, check them in and mirror match them; watch quality all the way through and don’t wait for the customer to QC it at pick-up; schedule a delivery time; then deliver the car back to them. It’s rude to hand them the keys and let them go find it in the parking lot.
Don’t get blinded by things. Sticking with the basics and doing things right will let you compete with, and outperform, almost anybody.