Importance of your Exceptions Report

Importance of your Exceptions Report

By Greg Criss

In dealerships throughout the country, there is a report that reveals how your processes are working and how your team is responding to what you are requesting.  It is called an Exceptions Report.

In ADP, it is called a REX report.  In Reynolds and Reynolds, it is called the 3619 report.  For other DMS’s I suggest that you call for Service Assistance to find where to access the function, if you are not aware how to do so.

In these reports you can find the following:

Discounting by advisors and cashiers.  This is very important to monitor on a daily basis.  You can see by this report, what was discounted, and you might even be able to guess why.  It will also give you a rough description of the repair or maintenance that was being performed.  The best way of controlling discounting is through this report.   Reviewing this report daily, and “answer-finding” is important.  It allows you to see how the advisor is choosing to discount.  And, it lets the advisor know that you are reviewing this daily.  When we measure a process, the additional focus, improves performance.  It is a useless task if you review the report and don’t share any information with your crew.  The importance of the report is to help you be a better manager, not a better administrator.  Know who your consumer advocates are.

Changing of the Guard.  Years ago, I noticed that an advisor was changing another advisor’s number to his number.  Well, I’m the first to love teamwork, but the trend started me into “answer-finding” mode.  As it turned out, the advisor had changed his number because the advisors were on commission, and that was this Advisor’s way of “trying to keep things even.”  One of our basic responsibilities is to ensure that our employees have a safe environment.  That also means making sure no one is stealing from them.  It’s certainly ok if advisors agree to switch.  You may have a guest who is being waited on by one of your advisors who is scheduled to go on vacation in the near future.  It may be prudent, in this case, to allow them to switch numbers so that the guest has a great experience.

Beware of the Unaware.  In many cases when you confront an advisor concerning these issues, they will say they were “unaware.”  This is a great on-time answer.   The second series of these should set a red flag for management.  This showcases a “doing” problem, and not an “awareness” problem.  If I speak to you concerning the issue, explain how the issue can happen, how the system works, and you are still having issues, or are “unaware” of the issue, it may be time for an ad in, Craigslist, Indeed, Career Builders, or the like.  Advice:  Don’t get pulled into the vortex of continuous training on the same subject.

Shifting of Flat Rate Times. This report can also monitor shifting of flat rate times. Example 1:  Our guest requests a transmission service and our advisor quotes a price for a regular transmission service.  The flat rate time associated with the labor operation codes pays the technician 1.2 hours for a reverse flush of the transmission; however, this transmission is different.  This transmission is a CVT transmission.  The difference is that it doesn’t pay as much as the standard service.  In fact, it pays only .5 hours to drain and fill the transmission.  So, when the advisor is in pre-invoice stage, he/she should adjust the time and the price to the correct operation.  When they do, this will be recorded in the exceptions report.  And, as you can see by the example, this can go horribly wrong if not monitored.

Example 2.  Jim is a technician who works for us.  He is a really great friend with the service advisor.  In fact, they and their families spend a lot of weekends together going fishing and boating.  Jim has had a rough time of it recently.  So, our advisor decides that he/she can help.  Instead of paying Jim the normal time, the advisor increases the time by a couple of tenths.  Jim ends up at the end of the week getting more time than he should.  The exceptions report will help identify this issue with showing the changing of the flat rate time from the operations codes.

Give-Aways.  I recently reviewed an exceptions report and found that an advisor had given away a rental vehicle.  It showed on the report as a $400 charge for a rental vehicle and a $400 discount.  Since this discount goes against the sales, it would not be reflected in the policy account or our “mistakes” account.  This is a problem.  If we gave away a rental car, then I have to believe that something went wrong, or we gave the rental away to “sell” the job.  I want to make sure that if we gave the rental away to “sell” the job that the job was worth enough to give away the $400 in rental.  Being able to track what you give away in discounts is critical.  We want to allow our advisors to have “free reign” to take care of guests, but we have to have some guidelines.

Parts Changes.  On the exceptions report we can see if parts have been changed or deleted.  This allows us to see if our operation codes are correct and if we are set-up correctly.  Many times, parts change, and we have to be sensitive to these changes.  But we also want to make sure that things are running as they should.  Some questions come to mind:  Why did we quote the guest for the part, and then not install it?  Or, why did we have to add a part to this operation?  Was it not found on the original estimate?  How did that happen?  What was the guest’s reaction to that?  Was there a surprise when they picked the vehicle up?  And on, and on.

Deleted Operation Codes.  Ok, so we can see on the exceptions report that an advisor removed a “replace brake pad” operation code.  No big deal, right?  We do it all of the time. Our guest just changed their mind, right?  Well, if a guest changes their mind, this can be symptomatic of issues with pricing or value.

Just so we have the picture correct:  The guest called ahead of time in THEIR busy schedule to make time to bring their vehicle in.  During that call they were asked many questions that they may have not had the time to answer or may have been a little annoyed, but accepted the situation to bring the vehicle in.  Then they may have had to make special considerations including alternate transportation, finding someone to make sure the kids get to school, the dog fed and walked, and so on.  Today they bring the vehicle in and are greeted, but maybe had to wait an additional 10 minutes to catch the shuttle.  So we get the vehicle in, find out what the issue is and call our guest with an estimate for repair.  And the guest says, “No, I’m going to wait.”

What this now means is that the guest has to repeat the above scenario again (hopefully here).  I believe that people are time-starved.  Convenience takes precedence over price; however, we have to be sure that a few thing are correct.  We have to be sure that our pricing placement is correct, our advisor relationship is strong, and we have done everything in our capabilities to help this guest not have to go through the process of bringing the vehicle in again.   Trust certainly is a huge factor.

So, when I have a guest line deleted, I am always interested in what happened.  It makes sense to question “voided” repair orders and deleted lines.

Accurate Documentation.  In the case where a line might be deleted, I would counsel the advisor.  I always want the original documentation and an explanation of what happened.  If the guest didn’t want to buy, then I am going to put documentation to support that they were quoted and opted to not purchase.  That way, they can never question whether they were made aware of a situation.

And, Finally, THEFT.  I have experienced lines disappearing with cash disappearing.  In most DMS’ you have the ability to control who can do what.  If your DMS allows you to control this, simply put, put hard controls on voids and deletes.

Awareness leads to discussion.  Discussion leads to solutions.

It’s amazing what a great tool this can be when properly reviewed, yet many managers either do not know of it, or discard it because they haven’t put all of the pieces of the puzzle together.  By reviewing this each day, you will solidify your processes, find internal issues that need addressed, improve your marketing opportunities, and most importantly, you will be able to improve your guest’s service experience.

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