Mark Giammalvo specializes in driveability diagnostics at his family business, Sam Giammalvo's Auto Sales & Service, Inc. in New Bedford, MA.
Mark, who has been with the business for
over 20 years, is an ASE Master
Technician and Parts Specialist. He also holds the ASE L1
certification, and has an associates degree in business
Diagnostic Repair Order?
(Printed in the Journal
of The Alliance of Automotive Service Providers, AASP)
One can learn volumes on the proper technique of note taking from the medical industry. In medical school, students are trained to take proper SOAP Notes. SOAP stands for Subjective, Objective, Assessment and Plan. As an example, a Subjective can consist of a chief complaint from a patient plus a medical and family illness history. The Objective will list current vital signs, visible condition and all test results. The Assessment, like a diagnosis, will list items that may be causing the initial complaint. The Plan serves as a prognosis and will list any future tests, treatments and follow up visits that they may need.
Although the current automotive service world has not embraced soap notes, it has come a long way. Only ten to twenty years ago we were handing customers one line repair orders. We all can remember those invoices totaling four digits that simply stated: "Rebuild transmission." Not exactly a well-written repair order. In the past ten or so years the service industry has really evolved with some decent note taking. Often, shops will break the repair order down into three areas. Complaint, Cause and Correction. This makes the invoice much easier to read and understand. It also serves to show the customer the methodology of the repair shop as well as the technician's thought process.
Today, a well-written repair order should list a minimum of five items. The Complaint, Diagnostic Procedures, (inspections and tests performed), Test Results, Root Cause and the Recommended Correction. In addition, all invoices should display a proper heading identifying the customer's name and all contact phone numbers. Also, the invoice header should include the vehicle's make, model, mileage and date. The Vin number on the repair order is always nice to have but it is not mandatory if it is attached to the customer's file in the database.
In the past, employees have referred to my brother and I as "book writers." No, we haven't written any books on the automotive industry. At least not yet. We have gained that nickname due to how much information we type in on the average repair order. We believe that their can never be too much documentation on the repair order. Whether a customer is back with a new diagnostic problem or a service complaint, good prior documentation will speak volumes and put any questions to rest.
Recently, I was able to critique a diagnostic repair order of another shop. One of our customers had broken down in western Mass. with her Volvo. The customer had given my brother a copy of the recent repair order for service they had performed. Glenn was so impressed with the repair order that he gave me a copy.
The following is a copy of their repair order: (True names and places have been edited out for privacy).
Now, had I not seen the heading of this repair order I would have said that our shop had definitely written it. Well, I'm glad to see that my brother and I are not the only ones writing repair order books these days. Sure, it takes a lot of extra work but the history of the visit to the shop on that day does not get any clearer than that.
Anyway, the customer came in to have us check these items. Here is a copy of the repair order we gave the customer upon completion of our service:
Ok, I'll admit, I'm hooked on the topic of writing a complete repair order. Why give your customers anything less?
Kudos to all shops out their who continue to write those books. I mean, repair orders.