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Communicating what’s wrong with the vehicle

Your technician completed the inspection and found something wrong with the vehicle. Now you need to get a hold of your customer to discuss this with them. There’s a couple of ways you can communicate this.

You can use an inspection tablet process. You can get images of the problem and email them a report. That is a great complement to the conversation you are going to have with them on the phone. It does not replace the conversation.

Or you can text your client with a link to your inspection report. Again, this does not replace the phone call to talk about work that was not expected.

The only time I suggest texting for work approval.

If the problem was known before the inspection and discussed in great detail ahead of time. You have given a price estimate and tell the customer that what you need to do is run a few tests to confirm. You confirm the problem, and then you send a text message to go ahead with the estimated price. This is a great way to go ahead because you’ve already had the conversation.

Calling to discuss unexpected repairs

If something is unexpected, the phone call is the best way to talk about that. When you get on the phone you want to be very clear in the introduction about who you are.

“Hi this is Joe from Joe’s Garage. Do you have a minute to talk about your vehicle and what we’ve found?”

Asking if you have a minute is very polite. Your customer wants his vehicle back as soon as possible. They’re going to make time for you. But it’s polite to ask instead of diving into something, in case they don’t actually have a minute.

Once you have permission to continue, explain the findings:

“Our technician Jack had found _______ issue.”

Always use names to build a relationship. This isn’t a random technician. This is Jack, a vital member of our team. Use the names of your team whenever you can.

Now moving into this, we want to structure this conversation so that we are the messenger of the news. It’s their car, it’s their problem.

“My technician Jack took a look at YOUR car and saw that x service or x part on YOUR car needs to be replaced.”

We are letting them know that this is THEIR car and that it has something that needs to be fixed.

Let’s say you find something that failing, but not yet failed. You estimate it might last a bit longer, but you cannot be sure and it could be a safety issue if it fails. To me, that’s a “it needs to be replaced” item. Don’t say “we recommend,” rather say “it needs.”

If they ask why it needs to be replaced, you can explain it’s failing. The reason why “it needs” to be replaced is because of the safety risk when it fails. If it were your vehicle, you would not wait for that risk to present itself.

When discussing the repair, say “______ needs to be replaced before we can inspect the rest of the vehicle”. Sometimes a part needs be replaced before the rest of the system can be tested. This also keeps the customer prepared for extra repairs that may be found. We are communicating with them openly about what’s going on.

Once you fix that part and have the approval on the work, you call the customer and tell them the car is fixed. The customer’s gone from wondering how much more is going to be found, to being surprised there was nothing else. You now look like a hero for not discovering more.