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OM in the News: Scheduling an Auto Service Center

February 3, 2015

auto serviceJeff Proctor, head of Metro Honda and Metro Acura in Montclair, Calif., endured a year of anger from service advisers after he gave their job of scheduling service work to a newly created call center. Suffering their wrath proved worthwhile, Proctor says in Automotive News (Jan. 23, 2015), because now his service bays are largely booked and his service revenue keeps rising. “We were able to regain control of scheduling appointments in the service drive, and that’s important because we’re only open a certain amount of hours, so we want to load our shop. The service advisers didn’t see it that way.”

By creating the call center, Proctor took service scheduling away from service advisers. They were often reluctant to book small jobs, such as oil changes and tire rotations, because they earn smaller commissions on those jobs compared with, say, a 3-hour brake repair. “It’s not in their best interest to take, say, an oil change that only pays them 2/10 of an hour,” Proctor says. “So they push them off for 3 weeks to make room to take a bigger paying job.” But often, those bigger jobs never surface, that time slot goes unfilled, and the dealership loses money and customers.

The call center’s 3 employees phone new-car owners to set up appointments for their initial maintenance service, and they take all inbound calls, setting service appointments. In the center’s first 12 months, total service appointments grew 10% and revenue increased 5%. When Proctor told his 8 service advisers about his plan for a call center, he initially experienced stiff resistance. “I had to sell them on the fact that this would benefit them long-term because they’ll be able to spend more time with the customer and upsell them with the services they need instead of having to deal with the interruptions of answering the phone.”

This is a good example of service scheduling options that you can use in Chapter 15.

Classroom discussion questions:

1. Which priority rule were the service advisors using prior to the call center?

2. How does scheduling for services differ from scheduling manufacturing systems?

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