Whether a warranty audit is conducted in person or remotely can make a big difference. That's why the return of face-to-face audits is a big deal, according to dealership consultants and other experts.
Automakers dialed back warranty auditing during COVID-19 shutdowns, and reportedly stopped doing in-person warranty audits entirely, for several months last year. In some cases, in-person warranty audits are only now about to start back up.
Despite many dealership records being entered online, dealership service and parts departments and the warranty claims process are still very paper-intensive, says Rich Reinicke, president of Warranty Management Consulting in Littleton, Colo. And online records are no substitute for the paper originals.
"Auditors are going to want to see the comments, see the notes in the margin, see the time punches, compare those with the time sheets, compare those with other repairs," he says.
Being on-site as opposed to remote makes it easier to get answers that may be hard to find based strictly on the documents, experts say.
"If you have a question, you can walk over and talk to a parts person," says Rob Gehring, president of Fixed Performance Inc. in Huron, Ohio.
Auditors are looking for "no-nos," such as the same technician punching the clock for multiple jobs at the same time or charging an impossible number of hours in a given time frame. A dealer client of Reinicke once got charged back because an auditor discovered somebody other than the assigned technician had added more details to a repair order after the fact, based on different handwriting, he says.
Here are some details from Ford Motor Co. and General Motors regarding in-person and remote warranty audits.