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Make a list and check it off

We all have lists in our life. We make to-do lists, lists for groceries, home improvement lists and bucket lists. We make lists of all kinds. But what about lists within your dealership?

Each department and job role should have a checklist of some sort, something to keep everyone on track when things get busy and something to prompt action when it’s slow.  Remember, you can’t expect what you don’t inspect so make sure your list includes checking on all of the lists that the staff keeps. A random inspection will make sure everyone is accountable to their list.

A checklist is a useful tool for employees at every level. From the newbie to the most seasoned veteran. New employees should use these lists to understand the process of their job while the seasoned pro can use it to make sure they’re still on track and not missing something. Essential items are sometimes forgotten, even with years of experience. Here are a couple of ideas for each department that you can start with and build on:

Service department

When the customer brings in a vehicle are you asking all of the essential questions? When was the last time you changed the oil? What about the coolant or brake fluid? Often these fluids are missed and could cause failure further down the line. Include items like these on your checklist. It’s essential to have a dialogue with the customer to ensure that you return their machine in optimum condition. The list should also include any damage or blemishes on the vehicle. You don’t want to be held responsible for something that didn’t happen in your shop. While we’re on the subject of damage, are you taking digital images of the vehicle when it’s dropped off for service? Thorough documentation of the condition of the vehicle is time well spent when it comes to damage liability.

What about a technician’s checklist to complete once the job is finished? Are warranty parts tagged and saved appropriately? Are the nuts and bolts given a final once-over? What about the fluids? Everything topped off?

And speaking of warranty claims, is everything filed correctly? You might want to create a list just to ensure the OEM does not reject these claims. As they say, dotting the “i’s” and crossing the “t’s.”

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Parts and accessories

Checklists in this department can vary widely but include items that improve the customer experience. When looking up parts, discuss the job at hand with the customer and ensure they have everything they need. Gaskets, bearings, seals, loctite, new nuts and bolts, etc, Don’t leave anything out. There is nothing worse than starting a job and not being able to finish it because a gasket or seal is missing. Suggestive selling reminders are great for checklists. Don’t forget about housekeeping checklists that prompt you to keep the display and merchandise in top condition. Are you gathering the customer’s information for your marketing database? These are items that could to be included in a checklist.

Sales and F&I

Here is where checklists are critical as we are often talking about legal documents that can’t be missing information. Pre-delivery and delivery checklists. Documentation checklists and so much more. Save yourself time, money and embarrassment and eliminate costly errors with a proper checklist system.



Marketing is about delivering a consistent message to your customers. You can use a checklist to ensure items aren’t missed. You should build your social media plan with a checklist and monitor it with one as well. What about traditional media and co-op? Is your marketing adhering to those co-op rules? A checklist that outlines these critical items would be beneficial. Are you conducting events or shows on or off-site? Creating a checklist of events and shows will help to eliminate mistakes and last minute headaches associated with missing items.

So there you have it. An introduction to checklists and why they are essential. It might seem like overkill at times, but a well-designed checklist will keep you and your staff on track and eliminate wasteful and costly mistakes.

What other types of checklists have you found useful?

I’d love to hear what is and isn’t working for you — hit me up

Thank you for reading.

Scott Lukaitis is a writer, photographer and powersports industry professional with more than 25 years of experience from the dealership to the manufacturer level. He owns and provides content for his websites and and is currently the chief operating officer at Engine Ice Hi-Performance Coolant.

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