5 Best Practices for Documenting Service Procedures at Your Dealership

“Why am I paying so much for this? It doesn’t look like much work.” — how many times have customers said this to you, forcing you to reassess your initial quote?

A proper technician work order documentation process can help you avoid such a situation.

Service or work order documentation includes all the information about a task and the steps required to complete it.

Apart from showing value to the customer, maintaining proper service documentation lets everyone in your dealership keep track of work orders.

Technicians get a clearer understanding of their jobs and priorities while you’re able to evaluate how their time is distributed while ensuring maximum revenue hours are billed.

Service documentation can also increase technician productivity and improve efficiency.

After all, over 21% of daily productivity loss is attributed to document challenges and this practice can help you overcome that.

Let’s take a look at five best practices for documenting service procedures to boost shop efficiency.

1.   Conduct regular meetings

Documentation is an essential habit but it only reaps benefits if your technicians are consistent and regular with it.

The first step is to get work order documentation buy-in from technicians. The idea is to explain the importance of maintaining shop documentation and how they should go about it.

According to the McKinsey Global Institute, improved communication and collaboration could raise the productivity of workers by 25%.

This is why it’s important to make service documentation a part of your daily or weekly meetings where technicians review their respective job orders and the steps they followed.

Use this opportunity to tell them that efficiency is not about finishing tasks as quickly as possible. It’s about being effective in what they do and producing high-quality results.

2.   Identify productivity leaks

Service documentation needs to paint the complete picture. For instance, if a technician has taken an extra hour to heat and remove a rusty bolt, this step needs to go into the documentation.

Technicians are bound to come across similar roadblocks that might lead to productivity leakage. What’s important is identifying these leaks and discussing what can be done to solve the problem.

If you find it difficult to hold your technicians accountable for the tasks they complete, it might be a good idea to invest in a service scheduling software that helps you schedule, prioritize and track work orders quickly and efficiently.

Addressing bottlenecks, finding solutions, and documenting them creates a culture of continuous improvement which contributes to a more profitable dealership.

3.   Document the task and time taken

“It’s not how much you write but what you write that matters” — this is one of the most useful service documentation tips to consider.

Educate technicians to be specific while documenting their tasks. Let’s say, the work order involves repairing brake systems. This would include tasks such as brake inspection, taking the wheels off, removing brake calipers, replacing brake pads, etc.

Every task the technician performs needs to be noted down in the service documentation along with the exact time taken for it.

This way, one look at the document is enough to tell you how much time was spent on each of the tasks while paving the way for fair and consistent billing.

4.   Involve key stakeholders

Do you usually find yourself making the decisions and communicating the changes to your managers and technicians? You might want to change that.

According to global management consulting company, Kepner-Tregoe, “In making an important or complex business decision, there are key stakeholders that should be involved in decision-making.

They should include a critical few who qualify because they know about, care about, and/or can affect the business issues and outcomes surrounding the decision. They understand the business issues and needs and/or care about the outcome.

In addition, they should include key people who can do something to make implementation successful.”

In the case of dealerships, key stakeholders involve your managers, shop foreman, and service administrators. Take their input on overcoming productivity leaks and improving service documentation to boost efficiency.

5.   Set goals

Latham & Locke found that setting goals increased performance and productivity by 11% to 25%.

Productivity goals for a small agriculture dealership will be very different from a large material handling dealership. Set goals that are in line with your industry, company size, team composition, and peer dealership performance.

Lastly, these goals need to be SMART:

  • Specific: specify what you want to accomplish
  • Measurable: how will you measure success
  • Attainable: how will you achieve the goal
  • Relevant: what impact does it have on your business
  • Timely: how much time will you need to achieve the goal

When you set targets, you’re able to compare shop documentation against those goals to measure progress and track employee efficiency.

Want to learn more?

These service documentation best practices will help you encourage technicians to document their time accurately leading to improved dealership efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Want to learn more? We’ve collaborated with Kelly Mathison, Trainer and Management Consultant with the WEDA Dealer Institute to create a service documentation guide.

Read our guide to learn about:

  • Identifying productivity “leaks” in your shop
  • Best practices for documenting work orders, with examples
  • Strategies for getting buy-in from your service team


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