Here is how SmartPath Service and Monogram Service work: An owner or lessee might learn from their vehicle's telematics system that their vehicle is due for service. Using either the brand app or the dealer website, the customer identifies their vehicle and schedules an appointment. Based on stored information about the vehicle, the dealership can offer recommended or required services, each with a corresponding price. When the customer arrives for their appointment, the vehicle and customer are automatically recognized and the check-in procedure is already complete, Bliss explained.
Once the vehicle goes into a bay for service, the system gives the customer a progress report — either by their choice of phone or text. "Maybe while this vehicle is in, the technician realized that it also needed brakes, so the technician can actually send the customer a video of what they found and get approval for that additional service in real time," Bliss said.
Once the repair or maintenance is completed, the customer can pay their bill electronically if they choose, making it possible for them to seamlessly pickup their vehicle.
One key of the program will be transparent upfront pricing, Bliss said. "Not a list of every service possible, but a price specific to that vehicle and what might be required." He said the upfront pricing would help alleviate long-held customer anxieties about the costs of visiting a dealer for service.
"The ultimate goal is just to provide a better service experience that was a key part of that ownership experience," he said. "What we've designed takes into account the way that the dealership is structured today. The technology provides us a platform, but it lets the dealer digitize their operation."
Once in place, the new system "should improve dealership productivity, making the service drive more efficient and the service shop more efficient," Bliss said.
That is what Larry Fogt, service director at Norm Reeves Toyota, believes will happen, and it's why the dealership raised its hand to pilot SmartPath Service.
"I'm hoping it's going to bring something to the service world that we've talked about since the late 1990s: a fully integrated system from beginning to end," said Fogt, whose 45-bay service department in San Diego averages between 3,600 and 3,900 repair orders per month.
"I was back at Longo [Toyota, in El Monte, Calif., the brand's largest U.S. dealership] in the 1990s as a service adviser and service manager, and we would task our DMS providers to do this. But nobody's been able to come up with a system that integrates everything together," he said. "I guess that's because there were too many [vendors with different products], and it caused a lot of DMS failures."