The multi-point inspection is a mainstay of the oil and lube business and offers operators the opportunity to sell add-on services that may be vital to the shop’s bottom line. But, chances are, if you went to ten different shops and looked at the items on their inspection checklists you’d get ten unique sets of inspection points. So, what are the best strategies for maximizing the effectiveness and efficiency of your inspection process? What items should be on the list? Of course, the answers will depend on each oil and lube owner’s goals for their inspections. The following are a few different inspection models optimized for different users and arranged from small to large.
Car Count Model (Small)
Operators looking to maximize their car counts need an inspection that’s quick, effective and easy. That way each customer is in and out in a hurry, and the bay is ready for the next car. In general, these shops aren’t as concerned with add-on sales, as they are with servicing the maximum number of cars in a day. The goal of the inspection in this case is to add value to the oil change service without drastically slowing down the process.
By necessity these shops must shorten the inspection checklist to a maximum of 10 to 15 items. A good model for this type of inspection begins with checking brake fluid and topping off the differential and power steering fluids, transmission oil, coolant and wiper fluid. From there, the service tech takes a look at the car’s windshield wipers, air filter and tire pressure. Checking all of the vehicle’s lights, belts and hoses and tire tread wear are optional additions to this basic inspection type.
Ticket Average Model (Medium)
Many oil and lube shops look to make a healthy profit by upselling additional services to maximize the ticket average of each vehicle that comes through. For these businesses, the multi-point inspection can be one of their single most important tools for making those all-important extra sales. To these operators, each point of the inspection is a potential sales opportunity. Therefore, it makes sense inspections at these shops should be substantially more thorough.
In addition to the points covered in the car count model, the tech performing a ticket average model inspection should check the rest of vehicle’s filters, including the cabin air filter and the fuel filter. From there, the inspection should include a fuel system analysis, an examination of the breather and a battery test. The tech’s not done yet, as other items to inspect include the brake pads, shocks, alignment, light bulbs and diesel exhaust fluid (if applicable). A quick scan of the windshield for chips and cracks isn’t a bad idea either.
After the inspection, the tech should make a presentation to the vehicle’s owner detailing his or her findings and offering a list of recommended services. This is the point of the sale when the shop has the opportunity to bump the ticket value up significantly. It’s also a good chance to build a rapport with the customer by showing them what may need service in the future and what parts of their car are just fine.
The Comprehensive Exam (Large)
Offering an inspection with upwards of 100 points can be an additional service in and of itself. Customers planning to take their car on a long trip or who are considering the purchase of a new car often want to have a vehicle thoroughly checked out. Since these inspections are much more time consuming, shops can charge a premium. However, the comprehensive exam is still a great opportunity for operators to sell a variety of add-on services. One marketing idea for larger inspections is to offer all or a portion of the inspection fee as a credit toward any work performed within 30 days of the inspection.
A comprehensive inspection may include running the car’s VIN for a history report (especially if the customer is considering a purchase), running a diagnostic scan and checking for any outstanding recalls. The tech will do a road test to check the car’s operation (preferably including a cold start) and listen for anything abnormal. He or she will check the engine fans, parking brake, seat belts, transmission, clutch, wipers, washer fluid emitters, speedometer, odometer, cruise control, heater and A/C. The car’s frame then goes under the microscope to check for rust or corrosion and proper body panel alignment. The suspension is next, with a thorough inspection of the struts, shocks and CV joints/boots. Then comes the brake system with an inspection of lines, rotors, calipers, shoes and pads. Of course, the tires get a look-over and inflation to proper pressure, with any unusual wear patterns noted by the tech.
The exhaust system should get a once-over for any rust or leaks. Then, it’s time to look for fluid leaks. The tech should thoroughly examine the vehicle for any oil, coolant, transmission fluid or fuel leaks. The differential fluid level should be checked. Under the hood, all the drive belts and hoses should be inspected as well as the air filter, battery (including posts and cables) and charging system. All fluids should be topped off and checked.
Now, the tech should move on to ensuring all the instrumentation, lights and horn are functioning properly. Inside the car, the inspector should make sure there’s no evidence of airbag deployment and check the cabin air filter.
After this, inspection points specific to certain vehicles should be performed: convertible tops, transfer cases, hybrid batteries and electric motors, and infotainment systems. State safety and emissions inspections are often included, as well.
Making it Work
Only you know what model(s) are right for your shop, but whichever you choose, you’ll want to make sure your techs follow a standardized inspection checklist. Generally, most inspections begin at the front of the car and work their way to the back. What’s important is your employees get into a routine of doing the inspection the same way every time. This will not only improve the speed of the process, but will also cut down on errors. Having a printed checklist with a vehicle diagram, room for notes and pass/fail/needs work soon options is a great tool when sharing the inspection report with vehicle owners. Also, check with your vendors or POS provider because some companies offer custom inspection checklists tailored to your business.
Offering free basic inspections with an oil change or other service is a great way to add value without significantly extending the car’s bay time. As mentioned before, inspections can be the single most important sales tool in a lube shop operator’s arsenal. Getting your inspection process down pat can do wonders for the efficiency and profitability of your shop. It’s important to get all your employees on board with a few training sessions if need be. Once you’ve got your system in place, you’ll be amazed at the additional revenue coming in from sales of wiper blades, air filters, light bulbs and even the inspections themselves.