Of all the departments in an auto dealership, the service department stands to benefit the most from mobile tablet adoption, in terms of both revenue potential and increased customer satisfaction.
Mobile tablets in the service department allow service advisors to interact more with customers, increasing their trust and loyalty. Photo and video documentation pave the road to a better upsell process, while transitioning to a paperless environment helps to reduce inaccuracies and speed processes.
In fact, dealerships that adopt mobile tablets in the service department should expect to see service revenue increase 30 to 50 percent within the first year!
But before you run out and buy a dozen mobile tablets, be aware that successful mobile tablet adoption requires more than just buying tablets. To be successful, it’s critical that your staff embrace the use of mobile tablets.
I’ve heard of many dealers that go out and buy mobile tablets, only to abandon them because service department employees get frustrated. In order to ensure staff buy-in, follow these tips:
1) Upgrade Infrastructure for Data Requirements
In order for mobile tablets to work properly, you must have adequate Internet and WiFi connections. Ideally this means a fiber optics Internet connection, new network switches and many dedicated high-speed WiFi access points.
Even if you believe you have enough WiFi capacity for mobile tablets to work, you probably don’t. If your service advisors encounter spinning circles every time they try to do something, they will soon abandon the tablets. Both employees and customers will be frustrated!
2) Train Employees
Using mobile tablets requires process change, and as we all know, many people are resistant to change. Training and education make the change easier. Schedule tutorials and require that all staff run through each process several times before they actually use the mobile tablets with a customer.
Management buy-in is also important. Some employees may be reluctant to complain or mention problems they are having. Encourage managers in each department to be proactive and reach out to employees for feedback.
3) Ensure Tablets are Integrated with DMS
For business purposes, there are three platform choices for mobile tablets:
- Apple iOS/iPads
Before deciding upon a brand of tablet ask your DMS vendor, OEM and other service vendors if their applications run on the platform you’re considering. Ask to see demos of how they run. Keep in mind that just because a vendor tells you their applications will run on a tablet, does not mean they will run well.
The important thing to know is if the applications are remote or native. A native application is designed specifically to run on a mobile device. A remote application means that the application is running on your Windows PC, and you are using the tablet as a remote device that connects to the application. One problem with remote solutions is that Windows applications have never been designed to be touch-friendly, so the tablet connections can be slow.
Another drawback to accessing applications remotely is that it requires the use of a dedicated PC, which means that even if a service writer is in the service lane with his tablet, nobody else can use his PC.
For optimal mobile tablet performance, DMS applications should be native. With full DMS integration, mobile tablets can be used for the following processes:
- Greet the customer in the service lane
- Retrieve or create an appointment using the customer’s name, phone number or other criteria.
- Instantly scan the VIN
- View entire vehicle history, warranty and/or factory recall information
- Convert appointment information into a electronic Repair Order (RO) with one click of a button
- Perform a multi-point inspection
- Call up an archived multi-point inspection from customer’s last visit
- View recalls and recommended maintenances
- Send multi-point inspection form attached to an electronic RO to technicians, who can call it up on the electronic workbench to instantly follow up on items
- Parts inquiries
- Take pictures or video of worn parts to show to the customer
- Present findings to the customer on the tablet for customer approval, or e-mail the form to the customer for sign-off
4) Consider Design Updates to the Service Lane
If you want your employees to embrace using mobile tablets, creating a tablet-friendly environment is very helpful. Consider the following design updates for your service lane:
1) Covered service drive. Installing a cover in the service lane to prevent tablets from getting wet prevents damage and as a bonus, customers appreciate staying dry too!
2) Standing platform. Install a flat surface at standing height so if someone needs to enter a lot of data, they can set the tablet on the stand and plug in a keyboard.
3) Carrying cases. Specially designed cases allow service advisors to operate hands-free, preventing tablets from being dropped, stepped on or stolen.
4) Touchscreen gloves. In winter touchscreen gloves are a must. Touchscreens have difficulty sensing cold or wet fingers.
Incorporating mobile tablets into your service department processes increases transparency and allows staff to engage with customers. To have a positive impact on customer loyalty requires employee buy-in.
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Mike Esposito is President & CEO of Auto/Mate Dealership Systems. During his tenure at Auto/Mate, Mike has grown the company's auto dealer client base to more than 1,000 rooftops.