Some services on modern vehicles may present new logistical challenges to conscientious service personnel.
Usually, simple and cost-effective preparations address these often unforeseen concerns, saving the service department time and money.
Today, the battery in a variety of vehicles is no longer under the hood. Instead, it may be hidden under the rear seat or in a compartment under the rear floor. (This compartment's under the feet of the passengers in the rear seat.) Or a battery may be mounted in a corner of the trunk or rear cargo area.
Service managers and service sales professionals should get acquainted with battery locations—to the best of their ability. They should note the battery location somewhere on the customer's vehicle information. Then the note reminds them of the unusual location on future visits during which a technician must access the battery.
When a customer drops his or her vehicle off at the shop, service sales personnel should remind motorists to remove all personal belongings from their vehicles. My shop experience has been that when nothing's left behind, then technically, there's no reason for a cranky customer to complain that something was soiled or stolen. (“OK, ma'am, I think you've retrieved everything here. Now, are you sure you got all your belongings?”)
Actually, it's probably a good idea, wherever and whenever possible, to remind customers in advance to remove their personal property before leaving their vehicles for service. Today, technology such as email and texting make this chore easier and faster than ever before.
I imagine that Tire Business readers could swap endless stories with me about the personal property motorists have left behind in their vehicles. But regardless of your own shop experience, the risk is greater than ever that someone's stuff could be obstructing access to the vehicle's battery—rear seat, rear floor, cargo bin or trunk.
Plan ahead for the temporary storage of items such as rear seat cushions, rear floor mats, interior access panels, rear cargo covers and “shelves,” etc. On the one hand, productive technicians need to remove and stow these pieces as quickly as practically possible. On the other hand, they need to protect these potentially expensive parts from dirt and potential damage.
Service managers address these issues several ways. For better or worse, many ignore them, leaving the care and storage of these parts to the ingenuity of individual technicians. (Predictably, this hands-off attitude yields mixed results.) Some managers have created and maintain “clean areas” of one kind or another specifically for storing delicate or vulnerable parts during repair jobs. Some of them keep good drop cloths handy, creating ad hoc clean areas on a workbench or on the shop floor. They launder the drop cloths frequently.
Still other service personnel fabricate soft but sturdy drop cloths from old blankets, quilts, etc. I have worked with many techs who carefully spread a blanket across a vehicle's roof or trunk lid and then place lightweight parts on it during a repair job.
Depending upon the task, they might spread covers over the vehicle's seats or inside the trunk for temporary parts storage.
A number of techs I work with won't store anything on the shop floor or under the vehicle due to accidental damage.
What's more, several techs I know own and maintain their own covers in order to ensure the integrity and cleanliness of those covers.
It's easier to plan ahead for personal item storage rather than get an earful from an irate customer.