LOS ANGELES -- Bottlenecks in the service drive are the bugbear of every car dealership.
But Loren Campbell, general manager of Redlands Auto Plaza 60 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, believes he has a fix.
Campbell, who became minority partner in the Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram-Mazda store in 2010, made these changes to his service department:
- Service advisers work in teams of two, so if one is busy, the other is ready to help a waiting customer.
- Service advisers are being trained to work as cashiers, so they can handle service from start to finish.
- One of the cashiers is now the service department receptionist, with access to all the service repair invoices, so that she can answer customer phone-in questions without having to page a service adviser.
"You shouldn't have the customer walking up to the cashier saying, 'What is this charge?' and then having the cashier trying to find the service adviser," Campbell said. "The cashier's window is not the right place to be explaining things."
The service adviser duos have dedicated teams of mechanics for more orderly work flow.
"Some things are so specialized that only one technician can handle it. But most of the 12 techs, including the lube techs, they can pretty much handle everything," the 57-year-old Campbell said.
Not that there haven't been hiccups.
At one point, the service advisers were cashiering as many as 40 percent of completed repair orders. But launching too many new processes at once was challenging, so now the advisers are temporarily cashiering just one in 10. It didn't help that a service adviser quit, and a new trainee was just learning the job.
But eventually, Campbell wants service advisers to cashier 80 percent of repair orders.