The Case for a Dealership Triage Process: Part 1

By: Mark Martincic

July, 29th 2015

Recently, many OEMs have been aggressively encouraging dealerships to implement a “Triage Process”.  Whether it’s called Accelerated Service, Express Assessment or just plain Triage Process, many dealers are not welcoming this suggestion. Considering the positive aspects the Triage Process offers customers, one wonders why this approach been met with so much resistance.  Here, I will address common concerns when considering implementation of a Dealership Triage Process.


Objection 1: Another OEM Program?!

It’s true that some OEM’s programs seem like “flavor of the month” packages, rather than solutions.  But if an idea has merit, who cares where it comes from?  Test the idea against the potential benefits.  Today’s service departments are burdened with more demand for repairs than they have capacity. Increasing efficiencies is critical to meeting customers’ demands and generating growth for your dealership. If triage helps manage an aspect of the business and improves the bottom line, why wouldn’t you consider it?


Objection 2: We cannot afford to take one of our best technicians off of the line.

Shops are no longer full of master or journeyman technicians.  We all must find a way to leverage the best technicians’ skills and knowledge to the balance of the shop.  I truly believe you cannot manage a shop today effectively without a dedicated triage process.


Objection 3: Any good technician will just redo the diagnosis anyway.

If you have 15 technicians working in your shop, how many have the ability to diagnose most of your customers concerns?  Maybe five?  But once you know what part it needs, how many technicians out of the 15 can install or replace that part?


Objection 4: We already do that; the foreman pulls the codes before we dispatch the truck.

One of the major keys to increasing efficiency is getting the right job to the technician that has correct skills to effectively and quickly make the repairs.  Too often we dispatch a high skill job to a technician we know doesn't yet possess that skill. We hope we only lose time, and get the truck fixed right. How is that working for you now?


Objection 5: We do not have enough bays now. How can we give up one or more bays for triage?

To be completely effective, you will need to dedicate one or more bays to triage.  You will need to dedicate diagnostic computers, special tools and a DMS computer, and most important dedicate one of your highly skilled technician’s full time as the diagnostic/triage technician.  Again, is your current system more or less efficient than this? Which set up is most effective for positioning the diagnostic tools in the appropriate location?


Objection 6: They are trying to make the other technicians ‘parts changers’.

When I was a technician, if I could have jobs where parts were here, pre-pulled and ready, and we already had the customers or warranty approval, I could have been much more efficient.  And I would have learned and mastered more jobs quicker, because I could have concentrated on the mechanical procedures, not clerical processes.  Managing the service department includes managing training and education.


With a triage process in place, within two to four hours of a vehicle’s arrival at the dealership several important issues can be resolved.  The diagnostic technician diagnoses the repairs and/or maintenance needed, along with listing all of the parts necessary to complete the repair and provides this in a form for direct communication with the customer.  Your customer will receive important information regarding the estimated downtime, cost and the availability of special order parts needed to complete all work.  This is crucial to your customer’s day-to-day business management and directly affects his satisfaction with your dealership.

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