Information Makes the Best Repair

The following article was published by Ratchet & Wrench magazine recently. It’s such a GREAT story from a very successful auto shop owner in Illinois — we just have to share here on the blog. Enjoy!

Information Makes the Best Repair

By today’s digital repair standards, the past is laughable.

Chuck Hartogh

“We started out with books!” says Chuck Hartogh, president and co-founder of C & M Auto Care Inc., in Glenview, Ill. “We had a wall of Mitchell manuals, and every six months or so, a salesperson would stop in and say, ‘Hey, time to update the books.’ ”

Luckily, those days are behind him. Now, Hartogh and his team get all the data they need for any repair using the online and digital resources of Mitchell 1.

Mitchell 1 ProDemand & SureTrack

With each repair, the Mitchell 1 system is able to more effectively help C & M Auto Care.

“They know what their shops are fixing,” Hartogh says.

“They go through the system, identify the makes and marques, the frequency of work. That info is worth a lot to me not to throw parts at something.”

To Hartogh, the value is clear.

“Information fixes cars, and the more info we have, the better. The easier it is to access that info, the more efficient we are,” he says.

Mitchell 1 ProDemand auto repair software provides near real-time OEM information via technical service bulletins (TSBs) and other important details, while SureTrack features what thousands of other shops have found successful regarding certain repairs. Hartogh is particularly adamant about the speed, efficiency, and sheer volume of data he receives for every car that comes through his shop.

“We never had all that info before,” he says.

Having access to current TSBs is also critical to his operation. TSBs from the manufacturer are uploaded and available soon after they’re issued. He cites a 2004 Honda Accord, for example, with a check engine light and two codes stored. Now, he can look those codes up instantly, see what TSBs address the issue, and also check for a sound, real-world possibility of the exact repair needed. Service writers can order the part while the technician begins working on the car.

“It creates an efficiency and a reasonable jumping-off point,” Hartogh says.

Hartogh describes bringing up the TSB info on the invoice for easy customer transparency about how and why something had to be fixed or may have to be addressed in the future.

“Using all that info, you can offer a complete diagnosis and foster return customers,” he says, “and it’s enabled us to be more self-reliant.”

SureTrack also features a comprehensive forum of technicians, owners and manufacturers who can offer even more help about certain fixes and maintenance. ProDemand also integrated seamlessly with Hartogh’s existing management software.

“It’s beautiful,” he says, “and really easy. Other manuals involve copy-and-pasting VIN numbers, for example. Not with Mitchell 1. It’s easier for technicians, and the easier it is, the more we’ll use it.”

1Search Plus & Eliminating “The Look”

“With car repair, some customers get that ‘deer in the headlights’ look, and you need to be able to explain why you’re doing something and what the cost is,” Hartogh says.

“The last thing you want is someone walking away not knowing what just happened.”

Hartogh describes the believability threshold all shop owners seek to achieve with their clients. Modern tools allow you to reach that threshold so much faster, he says, “and that builds trust, and in our business, trust is everything.”

Mitchell 1 products have enabled Hartogh to empower his technicians, increase clarity with his customers, and enjoy a more robust bottom line while working smarter, not harder.

In his shop, each bay has a computer, and he trusts his technicians to use them. In the shop, using the 1Search Plus feature in ProDemand is a breeze.

“It’s an estimating guide,” Hartogh says.

“You can type in a service code and it will give you the search results from their database for what could be the problem with the car. It’s a digital filter for whatever may come through your door, and which types of fixes were successful, and how many times.”

Hartogh knows OEMs have their own websites for repair, but to Hartogh, that’s an inefficiency.

“They also say OEM repair info is accessible via mobile, but I don’t want to look for repair info on that screen. We’ve laid out our shop and bays with computers to make it easy,” he says. “We want to empower the technicians to make money, and repair information is a big tool. We can’t do it without it.”

For more information on Mitchell 1 shop tools, visit the associated links below:

ProDemand

ProDemand 1Search Plus feature

ProDemand Blog

SureTrack real-world diagnostic info in ProDemand

Manager SE shop management

Read the full article in Ratchet & Wrench

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