Q: My appointment was at 7:45 AM the other day, and I didn’t leave until close to 8:30 AM. I feel like for those of us who need to get to work, it’s a little inconvenient. Why does it take so long to get things going?
Waiting – Mattawan, MI
MM: Dear Waiting, I’m so glad you took the time to ask this question, as it is something we hear from time-to-time here on the DeNooyer Chevrolet service drive. This gives us an opportunity to introduce and explain the workings of our service lane to our readers and patrons of our Service Department.
From experience, a lot of dealerships let you pull your vehicle onto the lane (or near it pending on the service department setup), and then you find yourself floating around, wandering, or standing for a bit, confused as to where to go or who to see until someone acknowledges your presence and finally gets things going.
We are not and strive not to be that dealership.
It’s not in our nature to make you stand around or try to find where you need to go, because why or how should you know where to go and what to do? When our doors open at 7:30 AM (8:00 AM on Saturdays), we are ready to greet you and get your day started, and we want to understand what is going on with your vehicle so we can better address and repair the issues. But there is a process to it all, and it does take a couple extra minutes to do it the right way.
Before you arrive
You’ve already spoken with our reservation representatives or an advisor or manager to set a “check-in” time with our service department, surrounding the concerns you have with your vehicle. The information you provided during that interaction is our way of knowing what questions we should be asking and what we should be looking for when you arrive for.
The morning of your check-in, we are putting together schedules for our Valets and Greeters to utilize so we can verify you are here, and know who you are working with. We also account for any dropped off/overnight vehicles that are waiting outside our doors. Unfortunately with those, when we have quite a few, it takes up some of the time in our pre-opening activities. But we aim to get this all settled in before you arrive on our service drive.
While that’s being taken care of, we’re brewing coffee and setting up our beverage station, because we know some mornings any obligation outside of your routine gets in the way of the daily cup (this even applies to our employees).
Your arrival and “check-in” time
Here at DeNooyer, we don’t call it an appointment, your arrival time is your “check-in” time. We aspire to differentiate it because although similar, our “check-in” is unique and aims to accomplish something more than just bringing your car in to fix it.
When you arrive, one of our employees should approach your car to greet you and confirm your check-in time. Arriving early may mean a few minutes extra wait, and sometimes an early start. Arriving late could mean some waiting while on-time arrivals are finished up.
From there, your Service Advisor will take you through our walk-around process. They will confirm what you are in for today: whether it is standard maintenance or extensive engine concerns. They’ll take a seat in your car and turn your wheel to the left so we can get a better look at your tires, take the odometer (mileage) reading, as well as note any dash lights (especially if indicated in your check-in information) or other problems we may observe.
After exiting the vehicle your advisor will physically walk around the vehicle, noting any issues with the vehicle and bodywork, check each of the tires for tread depth and wear, the condition of your lights, and wipers before looking under the hood. There they will check your fluid levels: wiper, brake, coolant; look at your engine belt and make note of anything else that looks awry in the engine compartment (in all honesty, we unfortunately find a lot of nests and apparent cat beds this way).
Once your Service Advisor has accounted for any issues and concerns, it’s time for the write-up portion. Here, any issues and concerns are recorded on your repair order, which indicates what will be looked at and/or completed in your vehicle’s visit here.
We’ll also complete writing “stories” about issues you are having with the vehicle. This may sound silly, but stories are essential. The more details a customer can provide about issues with their vehicle, the more likely we are able to replicate the issue and diagnose what the problem really is. In a way, we are truly writing a story about the problems you are having, so we know exactly where to look or hear, when and what happens when we find it.
With a completed story and sometimes established laundry-list of issues has been recorded, your advisor will be able to provide a time frame to diagnose, repair or address the repair work. They’ll indicate a need to follow-up with a phone call and status update, with a specific time-frame to expect that update, or they can establish how long it will take to complete the repairs.
If everything has been addressed and reviewed, your advisor will establish a total of initial costs. Once that has been agreed on and you’ve signed for the work, you are free to go, we can shuttle you or potentially provide one of our rental vehicles.
The process here looks long and daunting, we understand, but it really isn’t that long of a process. The important thing is that it is the most thorough process and not only can we look out for you and your vehicle, but it gives us a chance to introduce and educate you about your vehicle as well. Each walk around provides our customers with a little more understanding of the complex machinery they utilize to drive from place to place.
The check-in and walk-around process also ensures we cover everything that needs to be addressed on your vehicle. Again, the more thorough we can be, the better chance we have of finding and fixing issues, especially the more complicated ones.
You’ve signed the papers and are ready to go off! But what does that mean for you? Maybe you have a ride to get you work. Perhaps you are waiting for your vehicle if the repairs are only an hour or so to fix. Maybe our shuttle driver can get you to your appointment. Or we do have a rental service, otherwise known as the Courtesy Transportation Program (CTP) as well.
Meanwhile, your vehicle, will be taken to our service garage, where your Chevrolet factory-trained technician will get to work . Basic maintenance will be taken care of in a routine fashion, whereas diagnostic issues will take additional time as technicians look it over and or perform any tests to find the problem. For either, they will also perform a Multi-Point Vehicle Inspection, providing a vehicle health report card of sorts with passing grades or failing grades for issues found. They’ll also indicate a solution to problems stated during your initial visit on the repair order. Those solutions will be brought to your attention (via that phone call/status update) for your approval to continue the repair, or disapproval.
There are so many other pieces and parts that were skimmed in this answer, but the purpose here was to (somewhat) briefly explain to you why this process takes some time. Sometimes we have a customer that arrives late, but before you arrive on time, and it takes a little longer to get you started. In some cases, the customer ahead has extensive repairs or questions, and we take the time to address every concern and question you may have about your vehicle.
And if all else fails, as we understand your time is valuable, you can always schedule your check-in time a little earlier for safety, drop your vehicle off before we close the night before, or do a night drop where you can drop your vehicle off at the front of our service drive (make sure to fill out the night drop envelope prior to dropping it, with your keys contained, in the box and include any and all information we need to get started working on your vehicle). All are easily accommodated and we want to ensure you and your vehicle are taken care of in the most convenient way possible.
“For the Miles Ahead” blog is a weekly series dedicated to demystifying automotive maintenance and service needs for the friends, family and customers of DeNooyer Chevrolet. If you have a question about service maintenance or car-related troubles, write to Motor Maven at MotorMaven@denooyer.com, and it could be included in the next publishing of “Ask Motor Maven.”