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Automotive Service Management Newsletter
Vol 1, No 10, October 2007

Quit Losing Money Over Quality Issues
Part 4: Tracking and Analyzing Repeat Repairs

To know how to correct repeat repair and customer service problems, we must start by having a way to track our incidents so we can analyze them and hopefully improve our processes. However, sometimes we may find that our processes are fine, but our people are not using them correctly or at all. Either way, the goal is to minimize these types of situations reoccurring and affecting our customers.

We are going to start with our ability to track repeat repairs and then look at tracking customer handling problems in our next newsletter. For tracking repeat repairs we will use a Repeat Repair Log. A Repeat Repair Log does not have to contain highly detailed information because that is recorded on the repair order. It does have to have enough information to be able to pull the repair order as needed and make some judgments about the initial cause of the repeat repair.

In our example Repeat Repair Log, we have the customer name, the previous repair, previous service advisor and tech, current repair order number, current service advisor and tech, basic symptom not corrected, number of visits to correct symptom and initial cause for repeat repair. So everyone will use this log, it is critical that it is understood that this log will not be used to get anyone in trouble or create blame. This log is only for tracking and analyzing purposes to assist the department as a whole in how to minimize repeat repairs and maintain a high level of customer satisfaction.

How do we know when to document a repeat repair on this log? Anytime a customer returns with their vehicle still experiencing the same symptoms, regardless of the time between repairs, document it as a repeat repair. This would include special ordered parts because there may be problems in the parts department stocking procedures that could be causing repeat repair incidents. On every major manufacturer's CSI report, the customer is asked how many visits to the service department did it take to correct the problem and why. Special Ordered Parts is always one of the choices.

When a customer comes into the service department with a repeat repair issue, the service advisor should immediately pull the previous repair order from the customer service history file. The advisor should review it with the customer to see if there is more or different symptom information that can be added to the current repair order to help the technician do a better job of repairing the vehicle.

Immediately after the customer leaves, the service advisor should fill out these columns of information on the Repeat Repair Log (Example):
  • Customer Name
  • Previous RO#
  • Previous SA/Tech
  • Current RO#
  • Current SA/(Tech will be added after repair is completed)
  • Symptom Not Corrected
Then a copy of the previous repair order is attached to the repair for the dispatcher and technician to have for reference. Ideally, some type of repeat repair alert should be on the new repair order in a highly visible format alerting everyone in the repair process of the repeat repair situation. The dispatcher should initially send the repair back to the previous technician, but after reviewing the repair order symptoms he may notice new information that will make it necessary to choose a different technician. Again, we are not placing blame on anyone, we just want the vehicle repaired on this visit.

Once the repeat repair is completed it must go through a quality check to make sure the symptom concerns have been properly corrected for the customer. In some cases, it may be necessary to take the customer on a test drive during service delivery to make sure the symptoms have been corrected to her satisfaction. When it is verified that the repeat repair is completed, the Service Manager will fill in the columns titled the current technician who completed the repair, # of Return Visits to Correct Symptom and and Initial Cause for Repeat Repair.

Our example completed Repeat Repair Log shows a list of common initial causes and how to use them. You may want to customize this list for your service department:

Initial Causes:
1. No test drive or symptom verification at write-up
2. Repair order contained little or no symptom information
3. Dispatched to wrong technician
4. Technician not using proper diagnostic procedures
5. Technician did not use technical resources or TSBs
6. Vehicle not quality checked upon completion of repair
7. Special Ordered Part
8. Defective Part
This log should be maintained and completed each day. At the end of each day or early the next morning, the Service Manager needs to meet with the person/people responsible for the repeat repair. For instance, in our completed log, we see that customer Murray's job was dispatched to the wrong tech. The Service Manager would meet with the Dispatcher to see why this happened and to discuss how to minimize this situation in the future. Again, the idea is not to make anyone wrong but to continuously see how to improve performance.

The initial cause may not be the root cause. Let's say we see a technician with reoccurring Special Ordered Parts incidents. Upon further investigation the Service Manager discovers that the technician is using Special Ordered Parts as an excuse to not work on a repair that he does not feel pays fairly or just takes too long to diagnose so he does not want to complete that repair. The Service Manager also discovers that the technician was aware of some nice quick, high labor hour jobs available for dispatch so he used Special Ordered Parts as an excuse to be available for those jobs. The Service Manager cannot be in a hurry to analyze these repeat repair incidents, especially ones that seem to indicate a reoccurring problem with a certain employee.

At the end of each day the information should be complied on the Repeat Repair Log Analysis form. This form will show who was involved in each of the repeat repair incidents by identifying the initial cause related to their involvement. From this analysis we can start to learn about the frequency and who was involved in the different initial causes. Then we can take this information into a team meeting to create solutions to handle these situations.

Next Month: Part 5: Tracking and Analyzing Poor Customer Handling Situations, Quality Improvement Meetings

Copyright, 2007, J. Daniel Emmanuel

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