Warranty claim processing: Organization is the key to success

1-15 Brandon Kirschner blogIn my last blog, we talked about that dusty file folder hidden away with all of those unfiled warranty claims. You remember, the one that Joe, the last service manager, left for you. This month we need to talk about getting started with cleaning up that mess and about how getting organized is going to be our salvation!

Now it’s time to get our hands dirty, literally and figuratively. You know what else goes with that dusty file folder? You guessed it — a mountain of parts that have no tags, none of the original packaging and worst of all, no system of organization!

There are a few things you should do before you get started with all the sorting and organizing. Printing off a copy of each manufacturer’s Warranty Parts Return Policy — pages that cover how long their parts need to be kept, how they need to be stored and how to return them — is a great way to start. Each manufacturer is going to have its own timeline, so print a copy for each manufacturer you represent and stick it in a sheet protector or laminate it. One tip from the “been there, done that” highlight reel: Remember to use a highlighter on the important information BEFORE you laminate it! You’ll be very glad you did later, and you will be referring back to it often.

Next, gather a selection of stackable storage totes. They are great for holding all of those standard-sized parts. Oversized items, like exhaust systems or wheels, will be dealt with later on. Some dealerships tried see-through totes, but from my experience, they just show all of the oil and grease on the parts you put in them because let’s be honest, the technicians are not going to spend a lot of time cleaning these old parts up before they turn them in!

You’re going to need room to work, and by that I mean enough space to lay some parts out for a day or two without them being disturbed. Now I’ve been here before, and the minute you start laying some stuff out is the exact, and I do mean exact, moment when someone will suddenly need to get to whatever is behind it like a customer’s bike that has been there since Reagan was president (assuming you are old enough to remember who The Gipper was), or that helmet display that originally held retro style helmets, back in the ‘70s when they were cutting-edge products. Either way, you need to make sure that no one is going to need you to move the parts you are laying out.

The next step only applies if you are a multi-line dealership, and I can assure you it is going to save you a lot of headaches down the road. Begin separating the parts by manufacturer. Start off with one storage tote for each brand. (I even saw one dealership that used different colored totes for each brand; pretty cool!) In a few cases, you may even need to separate them based on what division of that particular manufacturer they came from: powersports, watercraft and power equipment. You may even have to sort them based on street vs. off-road.

At this point, you can only hope that everyone has been tagging or identifying each part in some way: R.O. number (first choice), date, customer name. If they have no tag, don’t despair; just set them aside to identify later. If they do have a tag, you simply need to make sure that the tag is attached firmly because you do not want it coming off.

Once you have it properly tagged, store the item in the appropriate storage bin/tote. Remember to keep a close eye on how others are using the system you are creating. You have to get them to buy into the project by getting them involved and making sure they understand how important organization is to the process.

Brandon’s background as a motorcycle technician, automotive technician, service advisor and service department manager has provided him with a unique perspective from inside the fixed operations found in today’s most successful dealerships. Focused on helping dealerships enhance customer service and satisfaction while increasing profitability, Brandon is continuously searching for new and innovative ways to assist dealerships in providing customers with higher levels of service in addition to developing methods of improving departmental profitability through increased productivity, efficiency and cost management.


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