"Hi, welcome to John Q. Dealer's Toyota. What's that, you need an oil change? Okay, that's only going to take all week." We've all been here. A simple procedure at the dealership turns into a day in a tiny room, with stale coffee, out-of-date magazines and daytime television surrounded by people that are as disgruntled as you. Why, oh why, does it take so long to get work done at the local dealership?

Not surprisingly, breakdowns in communication have a lot to do with it. A new study from Carlisle and Company surveyed 9,000 service techs and found that 43 percent of the work orders they receive require a chat with the service advisor due to a lack of clarity.

We get that, to be honest. Have you ever looked at one of those service receipts? It might as well be in ancient Dothraki. The main problem, though, is that you, the customer, are being misinformed.

When it comes to the expected repair time, the surveyed techs estimate that at least a third of customers are given unrealistic completion times. And that's what makes a trip to the dealer so frustrating – you're told your car will be ready in an hour, but in reality, it'll be next Tuesday. Despite this testimony by the mechanics, a survey of service advisors found that 83 percent of them found their estimated repair times to be accurate.

So, the next time you need to go to service, remember this story, and plan accordingly. Scroll down for the official press release on the study from Carlisle and Company.
Show full PR text
Carlisle & Company, Inc. Reveals Key Findings from Annual Survey of Automotive Service Technicians
Of 9,000 technicians surveyed, only 27 percent indicate satisfaction with career progression, prompting need for call-to-action from auto manufacturers.

June 18, 2014 10:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time
CONCORD, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Carlisle & Company, Inc., the preferred provider of aftersales strategic guidance and tactical solutions for the world's leading motor vehicle brands, today announced key findings from its 2013 Annual Automotive Technician Survey, uncovering a widespread need for auto manufacturers to implement more formal training programs at their dealership operations. With 9,000 service technicians from 15 major auto brands surveyed, two major issues stood out as having a profound impact on technician satisfaction and retention: communication between technicians and service advisors, and the growth of dealer-based express lube services.

Lack of Communication between Technicians and Service Advisors

The service advisor is the entry point for the customer for any service-related issue so it's essential that they provide informed and accurate initial diagnoses. However, according to technicians, 43 percent of repair orders require additional clarification from the service advisor, costing each technician 30 minutes per day of follow-up time. Based on these figures, Carlisle estimates that a typical dealership with 12 technicians at $60/hour, each losing 30 minutes a day, results in at least $90,000 of lost service revenue each year.

More confirmation of the communication gap can be found in the issue of "expected repair completion time" – the #1 criteria that consumers value when selecting a service provider. For this critical area, technicians estimate that service advisors provide 1/3rd of their customers with unrealistic waiting times, yet advisors feel that they are accurate 83 percent of the time.

Growth of Express Service/Quick Lube Operations

In the past decade, OEMs have attempted to stem declining service retention by offering high volume/low margin services in-dealership, like 30-minute oil changes (Quicklube), but are challenged with staffing these services in a cost-competitive way. The most common approach is for dealerships to bring in low-cost, entry level technicians to perform these basic services, promising an eventual progression to more complex, higher-paid repairs.

However, 80 percent of technicians across the industry reported that their dealerships do not have realistic Quicklube career progression plans. Other relevant findings around this issue include:

The more time technicians spend in Quicklube, the less satisfied they are with career progression
Technicians that are dissatisfied with their career progression overwhelmingly are more likely to leave the industry, rather than just switch dealerships

"The survey results indicate a telling and almost dire industry need for OEMs and dealers to address the job progression (or lack thereof) for their technicians, as well as communication issues with service advisors," said Harry Hollenberg, Partner at Carlisle. "Technicians represent the critical link between the service customer and their product satisfaction and repurchase loyalty, so if these issues aren't fixed, the industry will continue to see the decline in service customers and lost potential revenue."

More information on the 2013 Automotive Technician Survey can be found here: http://carlisle-co.com/index.php/whatsnew.

About Carlisle & Company, Inc.

Carlisle provides the world's leading motor vehicle brands with aftersales strategic guidance and tactical solutions, including consulting, benchmarking, research, service operations and non-profit consulting. In addition to servicing the automotive industry, Carlisle's clients include global OEMs in the agriculture, construction, engine and power equipment sectors. The company is headquartered in Concord, Mass. and works with clients all over the world. More information can be found at http://www.carlisle-co.com.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 1 Year Ago
      The dealerships I've dealt with in my area (Ford, Nissan & Toyota) have all been pretty accurate with quotes on service time, especially for basic maintenance issues (oil change, etc.).
      • 1 Year Ago
      Again, stupid article. The real issue is the book estimates given for repairs, unrelated to the actual time the repair took. No mention of that in the article.
        • 1 Year Ago
        That would be a good point if the book times were not so far off the actual times an experienced technician actually does the work as well as the service writer for good or ill uses the book times and adjusts for the number of jobs being done, lunch and break times, etc. 'Fitting in' a simple oil change, for example, to a technician who is already up to his ears in a transmission change isn't going to work if all the lifts are already utilized…the service writer needs to know what his team is doing before agreeing to all this stuff.
      • 1 Year Ago
      This is probably the dumbest article ever written on Autoblog in a long time.
      Christopher Anderson
      For the summer between high school and college, I worked at a Chevy dealership doing mostly oil changes. In theory, I had the simplest job there, which should mean the simplest tickets. But I still had to go back to the writers several times a day to decipher the gibberish they used. Much of the problem is that the customers are describing their issue in non-technical terms ("It goes clunk and then ping when I turn into my driveway."), and the writers translate it into their own words and it makes no sense by the time a mechanic gets it. And the writers are often know less about cars than you'd hope they do; I once had one heard a writer try to order "muffler bearings" from AutoZone because one of the mechanics was messing with him and told him that's what he needed.
        Just Stuff
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Christopher Anderson
        That reminds me of the time I sent a new truck driver in the army to get some headlight fluid.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Waiting times may also depend on how populous the city one lives in happens to be. When I lived in New York, I'd drop off my car first thing in the morning, and even for basic maintenance it wouldn't be ready until the early evening. The volume of cars was just unbelievable. Presently I reside in Salt Lake City, where the same services can be provided in one to two hours.
      • 1 Year Ago
      The first and last time I ever took my car to the dealership for an oil change was back in 2005 when I bought my Pontiac G6. The first change was free so I said why not. THREE AND A HALF HOURS, WITH AN APPOINTMENT! For an oil change! Never again. Now it's done in my driveway, by me, in about 15 minutes with ramps.
        • 1 Year Ago
        That might be the best option for oil change or a quick lube. Dealerships are like Restaurants and not Fast Food joints (unless they have a quick/express lane for oil changes). Imagine going to your wifes favorite restaurant just for a burger and fries and expecting McDonalds speed?!?
          • 1 Year Ago
      • 1 Year Ago
      I find that car dealerships in my area almost universally underestimate their service times by 50%. This includes BMW, Nissan, Acura, Honda, and Chevy. I just plan on it and bring my laptop to make my time as productive as I can. I don't need a ride to work when I take my work with me. Our Nissan, BMW, and Acura dealerships provide free soda, which definitely sweetens the deal for me. That all is for minor services. Nothing beats a loaner car for major services. BMW tries to loan you a car as nice or nicer than yours. They have often kept my car an extra day for repairs. I just tell them, "Keep it as long as you want, I've got your new X5!"
      • 1 Year Ago
      From my experience, it is a complete lack of communication. I have no problem working on a waiter. I will admit, I hate having to stop what I am doing to go work on something else. I only have one lift to use so it can be very frustrating. There are 3 advisors where I work. They don't talk to each other. If I am getting a waiter, there is a good chance another advisor wrote up another waiter for me at the same time. Obviously one has to wait. They also seem to schedule waiters around lunch time when people want to come in. But they never understand the other 6 techs I work with go to lunch at the same time. I don't understand why they don't just refuse waiters at lunch if I can guarantee you I am am the only one around to work on them. I had one on Monday that came in for a part I ordered a week prior. Told the service writer it would take all day. I get the car as a waiter while I work on a waiter. WTF! I had a job years ago as a lube tech. They expected me to get a service done in less than 20 mins. It is a difficult task if I also have to run across the shop to get parts every service. During peak times, I was sometimes 3 deep in waiters. It is counterproductive. Get customers in with $20 oil change but get them out without enough time to send estimates to upsell work. The people in charge are worthless. Maybe they are the type of people that aren't supposed to be a manager. Maybe they are simple bean counters. I think 75% of my frustrations as a tech stem from a lack of communication.
      • 1 Year Ago
      P.S. a buddy of mine told me the book times are an average of all skill levels of the techs. meaning Mr. right out of school to Bob who's been "doing this for 40 years". Independent shops regularly beat book times and charge accordingly. Low overhead allows this. Most dealers are just after the cash.
      • 1 Year Ago
      It's always about finding a good dealer. But skip the hassle, save your money and do basic maintenance yourself (unless you're leasing or its included free). If you're reading this site you can change your oil, rotate tires, top up fluids, etc...And then you can do it CORRECTLY. The internet is your ally. Don't even get me started about leaving it there all day or especially overnight/for a few days
      Roger Smith
      • 1 Year Ago
      That is not real,if a factory specs are 9 hours for a evaporator on a Boxter the shop on the corner will do it for 2,there is a lot going on on used cars this days,got them dirt cheap at the auction and tried to sell them almost at used certified dealers,with a lot of work that wasn't made when the certified dealer ask for it,like a timing belt on VW or Audi that is not the miles but also the age of the rubber (new one is timing chain)
      Davey Hiltz
      • 9 Months Ago

      I guess that makes a lot of sense that it takes so long. I went one time for an oil change and it took us a good 3 hours to get it done. I'm glad I brought my laptop with me, I was able to finish my homework and a paper in the meantime. It's funny though, because another time I went to get a motor mount replaced and that only took them 40 minutes. Maybe it was just all timing. 


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