Training, tools & preparing ahead combine for service readiness

Jan. 1, 2020
Being prepared is key in servicing today?s vehicles. From having the right training to the right tools covering all your bases, being ready for the next wave of technology now is how you can keep your shop on a solid course. A trio of panelists addre

Being prepared is key in servicing today’s vehicles. From having the right training to the right tools covering all your bases, being ready for the next wave of technology now is how you can keep your shop on a solid course.

A trio of panelists addressed service readiness, factory scan tools and aftermarket information in the first of two CARS forum discussions at ASRW on Wednesday afternoon.

It all starts with preparing yourself for problems, says Mark Saxonberg, manager alternative fuel vehicles, environment & industry relations, product quality and service support, Toyota Motor Sales. This is called service readiness: the act of having received the service training, service information, service tools and service parts necessary to perform any diagnosis or repair that might be required to support a products, in advance of product arrival for repair.

“It’s one of the most important functions of automotive service technology that an OEM serves,” he states, adding that the only way to diagnose vehicles swiftly, accurately and at a fair price is to be prepared.

Being prepared starts by finding the information. Saxonberg explained to forum attendees how Toyota addresses the service readiness challenge. It starts by seeking out and utilizing all available training resources, uses OEM web-based service information and scan tools as a supplement to third party information, leverages open standards, uses technical assistance databases as an efficiency tool and leverges low-cost, short-term, all-inclusive SI and diagnostic software subscriptions.

The service information websites have really transformed information access, Saxonberg says. If you needed something you didn’t have, it was usually a couple of days away at best. And it probably cost a hundred dollars.
Now it’s minutes and $10 or $15 away.

“Savvy shop owners have mastered how to use this resource,” he says.

Fellow forum presenter Donny Seyfer, co-owner of Seyfer Automotive Inc., says using these resources and aftermarket ones as well are important. But all of the information in the world is of no use to you if you use it at the wrong time.



He explains that you need to make the most of third-party information. Doing so starts with learning to use each system that you pay for in detail and making use of the “contact us” option. He adds that you need to have a plan for what to do when you can’t find something.

In addition, Seyfer reminds owners that time spent learning how a system works and acquiring service information is a part of your technician’s diagnostic time.

This ties together with getting the proper training for technicians before the vehicle is sold. “The technology portal will continue to accelerate and will become more vertical. It’s the nature of the industry and the nature of technology nowadays,” says Saxonberg.

Technology applies to the proper tooling, too. Vehicles are too complex to attempt to diagnose and repair without all appropriate resources. You can’t expect to succeed in modern auto repair without a commitment to 100 percent service readiness for the vehicles/systems your customers expect you to support.

“Having that factory scan tool is a must nowadays,” Saxonberg says.

Pete Rudloff, owner Pete’s Garage Inc., Newark, Del., shared his experiences with factory scan tools. About five years ago, he switched to servicing only the vehicles for which he has a factory scan tool. He notes that his business has improved greatly.

“Just like my 14mm wrench, my factory scan tools are a must-have for fixing the job,” Rudloff says.

He related the need to adjust to today’s vehicles and utilize these tools to not being a Neanderthal, but updating your tools and embracing technology. He shared multiple cases where he was able to solve customers’ problems other shops were unable to fix, and added that generic tools have their place, ideally in combination with a factory tool where gaps in coverage exist.

“Isn’t a happy customer what we’re all striving for?” he posed to the forum attendees.

Having a tool is only one piece of the puzzle. To operate at or above dealer level, you need the information systems, too. Taking in everything you can from service information, factory scan tools and aftermarket resources will help you make your shop service ready.

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