When repairers talk about handling re-dos, most conversations undoubtedly lean toward the subject of writing up supplements and then dealing with very unhappy customers and insurers who are about to incur additional wait times and expenses.
Sometimes lost in this discussion are re-dos created by other nagging repair issues. Steering and suspension problems, electrical glitches and overlooked minor damage can send customers storming back through your doors or calling with demands for immediate service.
As with handling a supplement, you're left dealing with scheduling issues, compromised cycle times and a host of other problems. Worse still, once you've handled the re-do, odds are the customer still will drive away unsatisfied and unwilling to consider you for future work.
Fortunately, there are some pretty basic tips you can follow to fend off most of these operational headaches. These same tips can help you boost your bottom line with upsold work.
Consider these 10 tips for wrapping up a thorough, fault-free repair.
Tip 1: A cutting problem. A great detailing job goes a long way in showcasing your work as long as you attend to the smallest of details. Cleaning up a vehicle interior, especially after the airbags have deployed and shattered glass has showered the seats and carpeting, can be a tedious, back-breaking chore. Tiny glass shards can become lodged in the seats or hidden in carpet and other areas of the interior. They're difficult to see and even more difficult to remove. Sometimes even the best shop vacuums have difficulty picking them up, leaving them to cut an unsuspecting motorist.
Always take extra precautions when cleaning interiors of vehicles where broken glass is an issue. To help ensure you've removed every last granule of glass, some detailers recommend using the sticky side of shop tape to pat down seats and interiors to pick up these particles.
Make sure you thoroughly clean up broken glass before wiping down the seats, especially leather ones. Hidden glass particle can cling to shop rags where they'll scratch up interior surfaces that you're wiping down.
Tip 2: No more rain delays. While a vehicle is being serviced in your detail bays, detailers can perform an important service by helping locate leaks created by a collision. Several years ago, a motorist called an ABRN writer gushing over the work performed by a nearby shop that fast-tracked repairs to her vehicle. These warm, fuzzy feeling quickly dissipated days later when the motorist discovered her trunk interior was wet following a summer shower. Even worse, the motorist found soapy residue (probably from the shop's detail job) in the trunk well near the spare tire. Overlooked damage from the accident was allowing rain to drain into the trunk.
The shop now asks its detailer and quality inspector to examine vehicles for this type of problem, especially in cases where a vehicle trunk or back end has been struck. The spare tire well and other areas are closely examined for moisture after the vehicle has been washed.
Tip 3: Wind noise. While you're looking for areas where rain is seeping in, be extra mindful of gaps around the windshield and body panel that might create extraneous wind noise, especially when a vehicle hits the highway.
If you aren't already taking repaired vehicles for a post-repair inspection drive, this is a great reason to start.
Take the vehicle onto an expressway where it can travel beyond 45 MPH. With the radio, air conditioning and fans turned off, listen for wind noises. This can be a touchy area since some vehicles naturally experience more wind noise. What you want to listen for is whistling, which indicates that wind is slipping by a seal. If this is the case, re-examine all the window seals for wear or damage. Also look for gaps around the windows and doors. This could be an indication that the vehicle has hidden damage or needs additional adjustment of replaced parts.
In some cases, you could be looking at offering a customer a good deal on new, replacement seals that can quiet a pre-existing problem.
Tip 4: Proper steerage. The road inspection test is also the time to check for any steering or suspension problems. Again, with any distraction removed – radios, climate controls, etc. – put the vehicle through the paces at different speeds. Look for signs of steering or suspension damage or wear: the vehicle pulling to one side, harsh ride, noises from the suspension, etc.
Problems in these areas may have existed before the accident. This gives your shop a terrific opportunity to upsell shocks, struts, alignment work, etc. Even if the customer declines this work, at the very least, you've informed him or her that these problems exist and weren't overlooked during the repair.
Tip 5: Put the brakes on. The test drive also is the time to examine the brakes. Search for signs of wear or damage. If you have the personnel and time, performing a brake inspection also is a good idea.
This is the perfect opportunity to help your customer by suggesting necessary maintenance work – and in so doing, help yourself. There's also the chance that a brake failure may have been an element in the collision.
Tip 6: Fresh treads. Unless a blowout or other tire damage was sustained during the accident, it's easy to overlook tire work as you attend to more pressing collision repair needs.
Consider your customer's best interest and your bottom line. Always conduct a tire inspection. If the treads are worn, suggest replacement tires or give the customer a potential timetable to replace the tires (For example, "You're OK now, but you're probably looking at needing new tires in the next three months.") Consider also that badly worn tires may have contributed to the accident.
Tip 7: Scrutinize your sublets. When you send tire work – or brakes, suspension, muffler, glass or other repairs – to another business, you need to review their work. These other shops may assume the responsibility and liability for their repairs, but they aren't the true repairers in the eyes of your customers. You are.
When you road test the vehicle, check sublet repair work. Also make a thorough visual examination. Your reputation, along with your time handling any re-dos in this area, is on the line.
Tip 8: Electric issues. Perform a vehicle inspection that identifies some of the most common types of collision-related electrical problems, along with a host of other electrical issues.
Examine these areas:
1. Lights. Check all headlights, directional signals and other lights to ensure they are working properly. Check interior lights as well.
2. Locks and windows. Make sure power and non-power locks and windows are working properly. A solid hit can wreak havoc on these systems. They're also good candidates for other repair services.
3. Climate controls. Check the functioning of the heat, cooling, air conditioning and other climate systems.
4. The seats. Power seats are a common upgrade available in a range of vehicles. Considering that they also are a collision protection focal point and contain a number of electrical and mechanical features, they present plenty of potential repair problems. Thoroughly examine power seats for form and function. Make sure all the electrical and mechanical features work. Examine lumbar supports along with heating and cooling operations. The feeling and function of seats, especially power versions, are ground zero for your customer's ultimate repair satisfaction. If there's a problem here, expect to hear about it and deal with it immediately.
5. High-end safety and convenience components. Consumers are turning to dealers and the aftermarket for advanced audio and video components and safety features such as back-up cameras. Check all of these features and note any problems. Even if you believe a problem is not accident-related, make the customer aware of it. Doing so lets the customer know you've been thorough with your inspection and repair work; it also provides you with an opportunity to upsell replacement equipment.
Tip 9. Fluid leaks. If the accident resulted in damage to the engine, there's a good chance you'll notice any fluid leaks while you perform your initial estimate. Before turning the vehicle over to the owner, check again under the vehicle for leaks — especially after performing your final inspection drive. Considering how tightly packed the engine compartment is, it doesn't take a serious hit to either puncture a radiator hose or put a damaging kink in it. Perform a smell test here, as well. With the engine running and the heating\cooling systems on, put your nose to work sniffing for engine coolant. If the vehicle has suffered a rear impact, check for leaking fuel.
Tip 10. Finish with the finish. Take one more close look at the paint, first inside under artificial light and then outside in the sunlight. Check for any imperfections. Then make note of any non-claim related damage or work the vehicle might need that hasn't already been recorded.
Before you wave goodbye to a customer, take every step you can to convince that person to return someday and spread the word about your business.