For Internal Service Advisors, Scramble Defines the Day

For Internal Service Advisors, SCRAMBLE Defines the Day

See how this dealership uses software to identify workflow bottlenecks and remove points of delay.

Kim Morrison is the internal service advisor at Canadian dealership HJ Pfaff Audi. Her job description could describe an individual with the abilities of a Swiss Army knife.

“The sales team’s sole goal is to sell the vehicles I have to get ready for sale, so my challenge is making sure everything flows as smoothly as possible to meet their availability time-frames,” Morrison said.

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“If I lack the ability to coordinate the technicians, vendors and repair orders required to get cars through reconditioning to the front line fast, then sales won’t have that confidence,” she said.

Morrison also juggles service personnel personalities, skills and workspaces in a 12,000-square-foot service facility for customer-pay, new car prep and car reconditioning. 

Pfaff Automotive Partners operates two dealerships in Newmarket, Ontario. She said Pfaff Audi Newmarket recently saw used-car reconditioning volume increase from 60 vehicles a month to 132.

To achieve this gain, the sales team implemented a new strategy:

“Instead of being a new Audi dealership that occasionally sold pre-owns, we want to be a pre-owned dealership that occasionally sells new Audis,” Morrison said. 

Coincidently, new-car sales have increased to an average of 70 units a month, increasing trade-in volume. 

Managing technician work assignments can present unique challenges for getting work done.

Jennifer Marszalek knows Morrison’s challenges well. She worked in dealership fixed operations for 24 years, including as internal advisor, before joining Rapid Recon in 2022 as a performance manager for the recon workflow software company.

HJ Pfaff Audi

“From my standpoint,” she said, “franchise store techs are trained to work on one product, the dealership brand. It can be difficult for them to switch gears suddenly to work on nonbrand vehicles. Other brands come with their own wiring schematics, repair manuals, codes and specialty tools that not all technicians may be familiar with. But techs knowledgeable with working on multiple makes are comfortable jumping from one brand to the next.

“That’s a concern for advisors working in a combined customer-pay/internal shop environment,” Marszalek said. “That doesn’t mean new-car techs can’t work on other vehicles, but they’ll probably need more time.”

When Morrison joined the Pfaff Audi dealership a few years ago from a sister dealership, she had never worked as an internal service advisor. 

“I suddenly had to learn different op codes, vendors, the steps in the recon process in our Rapid Recon software and more. I had seen this tool at work at other dealerships and championed it when I came to HJ Pfaff. With this system, I was always just a click away from ‘to approve’ or ‘not to approve,’ and the tool was always on my computer screen or mobile device, wherever I was in my day,” Morrison said. 

“That’s a concern for advisors working in a combined customer-pay/internal shop environment. That doesn’t mean new-car techs can’t work on other vehicles, but they’ll probably need more time.”

Jennifer Marszalek, Performance Manager for Rapid Recon

She cited the recon software’s vendor management feature, Vendor Advantage, for helping her and her sublets track which vehicles were out, what work was being done and where those cars were at each phase of their reconditioning cycle.

“Now I know where every vehicle is in our workflow. My approved vendors have access to their own Rapid Recon workflow. This cooperation helps keep our work from stalling because the information and parts we need to recon these cars are always waiting for the technician. I’m the one that’s running around grabbing keys and getting them connected with the vehicles to get the work done, so it’s a little easier not to have to chase the data. It’s right there, handy and available,” Morrison said. 

By using the software to identify workflow bottlenecks and remove those points of delay, she can more consistently deliver cars for her sales team:
When work is backing up due to an assigned tech delay, she has the data at hand to determine which other techs have the skills, information and tools for that vehicle.
Faster response time to reassign a job to a tech better suited for the job.
Faster sublet of work where the right tech is not available to get that work done more quickly.

“First and foremost, I want our techs to work on another car, turn the wrench and get hours. The bottom line is that we just make that happen. Internal has a good relationship with sales and service here, and internals works hard to maintain that good relationship by making sure it all works for the dealership’s good,” Morrison stressed.

How to Use Transparent Recon Data to Improve Your Closing Rates – By Dennis McGinn

Your fixed operations department now has one more tool to strengthen its value to variable ops. The link that connects the two is your reconditioning department. A new survey by Rapid Recon-certified business partner iPacket demonstrates the value that vehicle reconditioning brings to used-car sales.

“We did this study to determine what content drives customer engagement as they research the used car they’re considering and what materials hold the most attention,” said Seve Astorg, iPacket founder and CEO. 

Buyers found three documents most valuable — the vehicle’s original MSRP, its current reconditioning report and receipts, and the original new-car brochure.

Used by salespeople, this information will also boost their confidence and knowledge of the used vehicles they present. 

“These last two years have accelerated the acceptance by dealers that the more information they share, the more opportunity they create. Transparency doesn’t limit opportunities — it makes the transparent dealership more valuable to its markets,” said Michael Hayes, director of the Academy, NADA’s training engine for future dealership managers and GMs. 

The three-month study of 500 iPacket users measured click activity and time spent on its vehicle documents in the iPacket digital vehicle portfolio (DVP). The MSRP, the recon report and the new-car brochure accounted for 36.6% of all activity and 42.3% of total research hours. 

Astorg said the data suggest that dealers providing iPacket digital vehicle portfolio content record 46.9% more click activity and 46.9% more time spent researching than dealers who do not.

Dealers who use iPacket with Rapid Recon provide the most transparent and informed shopping experience possible to their vehicle shoppers via iPacket website document display and CRM-integrated digital vehicle presentations.

This exciting digital vehicle information tool captures fixed operations’ measurable contribution to variable operations. Dealers who build value in their cars using this strategy elevate information transparency to create opportunity. 

Dennis McGinn is the founder and CEO of Rapid Recon, a provider of vehicle reconditioning and communications workflow software for auto dealerships.

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