Tools to survive and thrive

John Batten takes a look at the art of diagnosis and the one tool to rule them all

Published:  11 June, 2018

My life as a business owner, trainer and technician is an interesting one. I was recently spending some time with a client after a course just shooting the breeze. You know the kind of thing, a cuppa, a cake and an hour just putting the world
to rights.
    
Part way through our conversation Matt proclaimed that I must be “living the dream!” This made me stop and think (something I’ve been told not to do by my wife) about how I am indeed very fortunate to have a career doing something I truly love.

Wading through treacle
Spending my days with like-minded business owners and technicians, helping them drive their careers and businesses forward. What’s not to like about that? Not much, but has my work life always been like skipping through meadow on a sunny day?
    
Quite frankly… No! Don’t get me wrong –  I’m a glass half full sort of chap and regardless of the task ahead I’ll give it my best and persevere until success emerges. However, on many occasions in my diagnostic career it was just like wading through treacle, and therein lies my point. To get to a place where you’re ‘living the dream’ you need wellies! Show me a successful technician and I’ll show you someone who’s great at wading. They’ve just waded long enough to build a versatile skill set along
the way.

The recipe for success
As with most things in life there are essential ingredients. With the right ingredients you’ll successfully avoid the diagnostic treacle swamp and swap this for a faster and more enjoyable repair experience.
    
“What’s this recipe?” I hear you cry. It has six elements that when bought together produce truly remarkable results. They are;

  •  The right technician
  •  The right tools
  •  The right information
  •  The right training
  •  The right practice
  •  The right process


The focus of this month's article being the right tools for your diagnostic survival.
    
I could turn this entire magazine into ‘Johnny’s must-have tool guide.’ However, instead I’ll focus on the
one tool that plays a huge part in troubleshooting success; Enter the oscilloscope.
    
Why am I so fond of this tool? When used skillfully it will quite simply change the way you look at diagnosis forever. I was speaking with Kris Gordon of Pier Garage (one of our training delegates) about this recently. He’s been making some great progress with his fault-finding career and mentioned that use of a scope and some practice has enabled him to “be able to mentally visualise what he should be seeing and the state of the circuit.” This is a sure-fire route to a successful and timely diagnosis. It just so happens that I made a similar discovery in my own career many years ago. Perhaps we’re onto something? But which scope should I buy?

Getting ready to dodge the Bullet
If there was ever a contentious subject it is “which is the best scope to buy?” Wars have been fought over less and in some parts of the world that battle still continues between the diehards in the red camp and the blue camp. I take a slightly more pragmatic approach. Let me ask you a question; How many ways do you have of undoing a 15mm nut? Take a look in your toolbox you’ll find dozens of ways to achieve that task. Why so many options? Different tools for different jobs and in many ways scope choice is no different.

The Search for the Grail
Like Indiana Jones I’ve been searching for the Holy Grail of scopes my whole career and I’m yet to find ‘The One’. What does my Grail scope look like?

  1. Minimum of four channels. Eight would be very cool
  2. The capability to easily build a waveform database
  3. Sufficient hardware specification; bandwidth, record length, samples, waveform update rate etc to accurately display fast frequencies over longer time bases
  4. Great software; A range of triggers, math channels, cursors, ignition analysis etc which will enable me to be creative with my test techniques
  5. Highly portable so I can move quickly and freely around the vehicle without the need to carry a laptop or push a trolley


If by chance you’ve found this illusive tool then I’d be grateful if you’d let me know, until then I’ll continue to use two scopes. A PC based scope for points one through four and a handheld for when portability is key or I need to invert myself in a footwell.

It’s worth bearing in mind that as the “one scope to rule them all” is yet to be discovered then you may need more than one to cover all bases.

I own a Scope – What next?
This is where the magic happens. They key here is to find a little time to practice and look at good waveforms. This, along with the most important questions you’ll ever ask;  “Why does that waveform look that that?" Followed up with a little training or research to discover the answer will propel your career to another level.
    
Take a look at the following example and I’ll talk you through the salient diagnostic points. Waveform 1 is a primary ignition waveform from a BMW 3 series. I’ve made a single connection to switched side of the coil with a full range voltage scale of 500 volts with 10ms across the screen. Let’s take a look at all the diagnostic information we can see from just one connection.

  1. Battery voltage. This confirms fundamental continuity of the positive supply. It is worth noting that as the circuit isn’t loaded at this point, a high resistance in this part of the circuit may not be visible. Another channel testing the coil supply would fix that though

  2. Coil turn on. The ECU has grounded the primary winding and current will start to flow in the primary. Dwell starts here

  3. Dwell time. This is the duration that the primary winding is held to ground. A magnetic field will be building, enveloping the primary and secondary windings. It’s useful to compare dwell across all coils. Discrepancies can indicate primary circuit faults and even ECU output stage issues

  4. End of Dwell. The control unit no longer holds the primary circuit to ground. The magnetic field produced in the dwell phase collapses inducing a voltage in both primary and secondary windings. This can reach many hundreds of volts. Discrepancies here are indicative of primary circuit faults

  5. Ignition burn time. I know you shouldn’t have a favourite, but this is my favourite part of the waveform. Here you can see the effect of mutual induction between the primary and secondary windings. The shape (for want of a better word) in this part of the waveform is indicative of so many variables within the cylinder. Items like plug gap, compression, mixture, cylinder sealing to name but a few

  6. Coil oscillations. At this point we no longer have enough energy to maintain the spark, the event ending with oscillations. This can be indicative of secondary issues

    
All of that and form just one connection. What’s more, I’m not finished yet. For waveform 2 I’ve changed the voltage scale to two volts full range. This enables me to gain additional diagnostic information from the same waveform.
    
Points 7 and 8 are the start and end of dwell, the ramp between them caused by the increase in current within the primary winding (I do love ohms law). Discrepancies here indicate faults within the primary circuit.
    
In summary, one quick connection and eight points of diagnosis that will increase not only the speed of fault identification, but will give additional certainty when it comes to root cause analysis. All this and I’ve only used one channel. Wait until you see what we can do with a few more!
    
If you’d like to know more about how to develop your technical team then call John at Auto iQ on 01604 328500. Alternatively why not attend one of our free online training events. To find out more visit. www.autoiq.co.uk/events




Related Articles

  • Get to the essentials 

    Marketing can be hard to grasp, even for the most experienced business operator. This made it an ideal topic for Andy Savva to cover as part of his 2019 training course schedule. Andy's one-day Marketing Essentials course provides an overview of what marketing actually is, looks at key approaches and how to apply them to a garage business.
        
    Aftermarket sat in on a sold-out session held in Crawley in February. In front of a packed room, filled with garages owners and staff, Andy dispelled some myths and misconceptions surrounding the discipline: "Marketing is one of the most misunderstood functions found in business. Whatever the reasons for any negative image that marketing may have, it is essential to realise that marketing is vital to ensure the survival and growth of any business. Marketing cannot be ignored and needs to be a part of the culture of any successful organisation.
        
    "Marketing affects everyone. We are all consumers. Most businesses depend on marketing to provide an understanding of the marketplace, to ensure their products and services satisfy the needs of customers, and that they are competing effectively."
        
    Despite running great businesses, Andy has found that garage owners often struggle when it comes to marketing: "Understanding customers and anticipating their requirements is a core theme of effective marketing, yet this is somewhat difficult for garages to fully get to grips with. So too is understanding general market trends and developments that may affect both customers views and the activities of businesses in the aftermarket repair sector. You must also be aware that a business does not have the marketplace to itself. There are always direct competitors, new entrants and indirect challengers.”
        
    Andy added: "Marketing should concern everybody in a business as it sets the context in which sales can take place. Whatever your role, you play a part in setting that context."

    Interaction
    As Andy got into the meat of the marketing matter, he led the delegates through what marketing is, and how they need to approach it and enact effective marketing within their businesses. Even the most experienced business owners and managers can get a little confused when asked to distinguish between marketing, advertising and sales. After asking attendees to pick where they would plant the marketing flag, with a few near misses along the way, Andy went through the specifics:
        
    "Marketing is a systematic approach aimed at bringing buyers and sellers together for the benefit of both. Many people confuse selling and advertising with marketing but they are not the same. Marketing is about promoting goods and services that both satisfy customers and also bring profits to the business.
         
    "Selling is the interaction that takes place on a personal level with potential customers. Marketing on the other hand is aimed at generating those potential customers in the first place. Many people confuse selling and advertising with marketing but they are not the same. Advertising is part of the marketing function, but never the other way around."
        
    For marketing to succeed, there needs to  be a goal and a way of achieving it, which Andy went on to cover: "Any marketing campaign needs to have a clear focus and this is why it is so important to make the right choices. Will the business compete across the entire market, or only certain parts? It is also a good idea to ensure all employees know the strategies being adopted, so that everyone works together to achieve the same goals." Andy then asked a question of the group: "Do you know what your garage business is trying to achieve and how it is trying to achieve it? In most cases the answer is no."
        
    The goal influences the method, and vice versa. From this point, Andy covered the classic four Ps of marketing – product, price, place and promotion – and went from there to the more recent extended marketing mix, incorporating people, process and physical evidence. Beyond this he laid out transactional marketing, which is sales-focused, and relationship marketing, which takes a much broader view including customer service, and quality presentation and results.
        
    Next he took on the thorny issue of branding as part of the marketing strategy, and why a strong brand is so important for recognition, financial value, motivation and loyalty. All of that was just the pre-lunch session. After lunch, Andy went into even greater detail on areas such as the marketing triangle, SMART objectives and SWOT analysis. It's heady stuff, but Andy made it approachable and applicable to the sector.

    Inspirational
    Those in attendance found a lot to take away from the day. Dani Comber from Thrussington Garage in East Goscote, near Leicester said: "I find Andy really inspirational. I think he's brilliant. He can come and work at our garage." Commenting on what she was learning about marketing from the day, Dani said it showed the gap between what they were doing at present, and what they should be doing: "I find it demotivating and motivating at the same time. You want to do everything, you've got the intention to do it, but you've not done it. On the other hand you are motivated because you see what you can do."
        
    Elisa Bramall from Scantec Automotive from Hailsham, East Sussex said: "I have attended several training courses with Andy. I only have good things to say about him of course. His passion being the main thing, and that he says it how it is. No beating around the bush. A lot of his values we stand by as well, i.e use of OE parts, tools and genuine equipment. When you attend his training courses, it aligns with what we want to achieve. With all of his experience, if you think you know it all you certainly don't."
        
    Tina Drayson, Operations Manager at CCM Garage, based in West Sussex and Surrey said: "I have done Andy's financial course before. It is phenomenal. I have learned so much from it. It has certainly changed the way we are doing our business. I am hoping that today with the marketing essentials will give us even more direction going forward."
        
    Terry Roberts, owner at  Witham Motor Company in Witham, Essex said: "I have just become a RAC approved garage in the last few weeks, so I am looking at changing my brand. I am really enjoying it. I am learning a lot and have picked up a lot of things."
        
    Commenting on what he was getting from the course, Billy from  Beacon Hill Garage in Hindhead, Surrey said: "It just hammers home that if your standards slip, and your marketing as well, and you take your eye off the ball, things will go wrong. I will be going back to give a few people a kick up the backside to bring standards back up. "
        
    Brothers Mahesh Vekaria and Pravin Patel own a garage each in Harrow. Mahesh, owner of Cardoc said: "What have I learned from Andy today so far? It has refocused and re-energised my enthusiasm for marketing. We do a fair bit of marketing, but coming today, you see a different angle to it."
        
    Pravin, proprietor at Harrow Service Centre, observed: "Today has been interesting. I have learned a lot. In a sense we already do a bit of marketing, but to understand what it really does mean and the ways we are doing it – is it right or wrong? – is really useful. It is something to implement when we go back to work."
        
    In that the pair are brothers and are based just half a mile apart, Aftermarket was curious as to who would get back and implement new marketing initiatives first. "I would say that I would," said Mahesh. Pravin agreed: "Yes  he would, definitely, having said that, he looks after my marketing for my garage as well. So he has double the work really."

    Information
    Edward Cockhill of Uckfield Motor Services in Uckfield East Sussex observed: "It is quite an eye-opener. I saw marketing as just advertising, whereas it is really the whole perception of my company. There is a lot of cogs that are going to be turning when I get home. "
        
    Peter Bedford of GT One Ltd in Chertsey, Surrey said: "We are an independent Porsche specialist. Our business is in need of a bit of a review in its marketing ideas, and we are looking to freshen it up. I have come along to see another angle of it. Some things I think I know and we have applied. Some I know and we have not applied, so you need a kick up the backside. Some things are brand new. On the whole it is brilliant."
        
    Cieran Larkin from Larkin Automotive in Dublin commented: "It is good to get marketing training from a professional who has been in the garage business as opposed to someone who is dealing with generic marketing. Andy's experience is brilliant in that way."
        
    Nick Robinson from Marchwoods in Folkestone had been to Andy's courses previously and was back for more: "I came to Andy's events last year for garage financial understanding and customer excellence. They were real eye-openers so I have come back for another one. I was badgering him earlier to see what is coming up next. I will be at that one as well!"
        
    Meanwhile, for Edward from Swanley Garage in Swanley, it was his first time: "This is the first one I have been to. It is really good. It is about getting all the information and having the guts to go out and do it. We are all guilty of not doing marketing properly, it is about taking that jump to rebrand yourself or say right we are not doing that any more, or we are not doing cut price work, or we are not going to let the customers bargain with us any more, and seeing where it takes you."

  • Would you like to diagnose more vehicles first time? 

    As we reach March, 2019 is well and truly underway. In fact by the time you read this one third of the year will have whizzed by never to be seen again. Now, I’m not one for New Year’s Resolutions (they’re so last year), but I am the type of chap that likes constant progress when it comes to developing a technician’s career.
        
    There’s so much to be said for small steps taken everyday that on first look appear don’t appear to make a difference, but when gazed back upon over a 12 month period have a staggering affect on your capability to diagnose a vehicle first time, in a timely manner.

    Pitter-patter of tiny feet
    Small steps are all well and good but where do you start? After all, you don’t know what you don’t know, and you’d like to start your journey to diagnostic success off on the right foot. In this instance I’d start with the end in mind and reverse engineer the outcome you desire. It’s a logical process that works, and can be replicated time and time again in your diagnostic routine.
        
    Your ‘end in mind’ in this instance is a vehicle where the fault no longer exists, that won’t appear back across the threshold of your workshop anytime soon. But how do you guarantee that?

    One test to rule them all
    I love nothing more than when the delegates working through our training programs have a technical epiphany. This happens at many points on their path of learning, but none more than with bypass testing.
        
    Bypass testing is step nine in Johnny’s diagnostic circle of love (our 15 step routine), and often the key element in the first time fix. The good news for you is that it doesn’t require mythical creatures to forge their magical powers into an object that only one technician can possess. It’s something that every tech can learn, and become a diagnostic wizard.

    What is bypass testing?
    Quite simply it’s fixing the vehicle before you fix the vehicle. Let me explain.
        
    Wouldn’t it be great if you suspected that a Mass Air Flow sensor was at fault and you could prove that you were right before you fitted a new part, or spoke to the owner of the vehicle. If you could do that then the positive effect it would have on you and the business you work for would blow you away.
        
    Picture this: Your customer has reported that the vehicle is low on power. You’ve diligently questioned them, experienced the problem with them on a road test, and the bought the vehicle into the workshop.
        
    You’ve pulled codes and found none present, followed by taking a look through serial data to hunt for diagnostic clues. It doesn’t take you long to identify that the MAF sensor frequency looks a little low at 1.5 Khz and your fuel trim data is incorrect and making a positive corrections. You’ve seen a bunch of these before and know that 1.85 Khz is a suitable value for this vehicle.
        
    You’re keen to prove that the serial data is leading you in the right direction so confirm the sensor output with your oscilloscope. The oscilloscope frequency mirrors that of the serial tool and your starting to get that warm fuzzy feeling that an you’re onto something.

    Steady the buffs
    You’ve been close to success before though, only to be thwarted in the final moments so you’re keen not to be caught out twice. You know that documenting the reasons that the MAF output could be incorrect is the way to go, and duly make a list of tests required to confirm your theories.

  • Days of future past? 

    Some of us remember the 1970s, where the prevailing feeling was that automotive sophistication usually came from abroad unless one spent a huge amount of cash, that our industry was led mainly by endlessly upset activists, and that our biggest vehicle manufacturer – ‘British Leyland‘ at some point – represented what the UK was all about. This was for the most part utter rubbish.
        
    Of course, much of the above does not stand close scrutiny, but it is true that British Leyland kept giving Fleet Street a continuous supply of headlines which money simply could not buy. Red Robbo, for example was an odd man, who sincerely believed in his cause and did not apparently connect that disruptive work patterns simply made poor manufacturing processes (the cause of the dispute) much, much worse. Who could forget the geniuses who placed a brand-new manufacturing line at Cowley (now called ‘Oxford’ by the present occupiers) where the established time for people to work underneath vehicles was gloriously exceeded? Or the star who invested in the Rover 800 based on volumes of 400,000 units, yet failed to sell a fraction of that even with a facelift? Or that the very same star would later arrive to drive the rump of British Leyland (MG Rover) into the ground?
        
    It has taken decades to shake off the implosion of UK automotive manufacturing, even though in reality the companies that needed to shape up or fail were mostly shaping up. Our national preoccupation with failure seemed to eclipse the success of the UK building 1.6 million vehicles and more than 2.7 million powertrains in 2018, even though it did take quite a few years to build those volumes back up.    
        
    Behind vehicle manufacturing is a series of suppliers, and suppliers to those suppliers. When vehicle manufacturing disappears from a country – or in the case of many – was never present, the aftermarket becomes 100% reliant on imported components, as well as vital expertise. We need to be aware of what is happening in vehicle manufacturing even though the changes in manufacturing take place over several years.

    Brexit and deals
    Much is made of the uncertainty around Brexit.  Some of that is very real, but as Her Majesty’s Government knows full well the impact may be mostly concentrated on taxation. Those who remember past events will recall, the government can impose new tax levels or even new forms of tax at lightning speed. Effectively ‘such is life’.
        
    The Brexit ‘negotiations’ have taken against a backdrop of significant international financial instability, namely the USA’s insane debt bubble and the combination of China’s vast debt bubble combined with significant over extended state investment. You can add to this potent mix long-standing internal company issues. Nissan, for example, really do not like to be reminded that they exist today thanks to the investment and technology from Renault.

    Anarchy in the UK
    For fans of anarchy, we seem to have apparent utter anarchy. There were three important developments.

  • Hybrid theory 

    A chance to share your opinions, they said. Write an article if you feel so strongly about it, they said. Why did I choose one of the biggest titles in the automotive industry to write it for? Aim high, they said. How do I get myself into these situations? By taking the bait, they said.
        
    Writing is not my main occupation. I’m a tech like you. So, if you're reading this at work, in the time it took me to write that first paragraph, you have probably already carried out a full four-wheel alignment, or completed a MOT, or maybe got your hands on one of those hybrids, wearing your class 0 -1000v insulated gloves of course. Now I have your attention, you may have worked out that this article will be about hybrids. More to the point, whether or not technicians in workshops up and down the country are properly clued up on hybrids, or not as the case may be.
        
    The IMI are currently pursuing their idea for it to become mandatory to hold a hybrid qualification in order to service and repair hybrid vehicles. I believe this is the best way forward, not just because I already have my qualification, but simply because I believe it can save your life or a colleague’s life. At the very least, start by doing some sort of hybrid awareness course, especially if it's offered to you on a plate by your company.
        
    I would love one day to regularly have five or six EVs in our car park, with maybe a charging port out there too. In the meantime, I'll just have to make do with the one or two a week that roll ever so quietly into the workshop.

    Theoretical scenario
    I would like to run just a theoretical scenario by you... One day, in a small town that you won’t have heard of, a hybrid arrives at Bob’s Motors. The eponymous Bob eagerly awaits the arrival of his potential new customer, as does Fred, who is Bob’s chief mechanic, albeit more reluctantly. As Mr Smith walks into the reception, Fred's teabreak is mysteriously over and he slopes off. If there is any chance of being asked a technical question about a hybrid, Fred always hides. Bob however can’t believe his luck. He's heard in the pub you can charge whatever you want for working on these vehicles! Mr Smith wants a service on his car, and Bob prices the smart-dressed-man at £399, a random figure he plucked from nowhere. Mr Smith is over the moon as he was quoted a few more quid from his main dealer. The following day Fred walks into work. His first job is to service that stunning battery-powered machine that came in for a price on a service the previous day. With a big lump in his throat he cautiously takes the key from Bob, and then simply hands them back, exclaiming "I don’t know what I’m doing with this Bob, I've heard the can kill you if you don’t know what you’re doing."
        
    Bob’s reply: "You'll be ok, just don’t touch the thick bright orange cables.” Ok, I’ll stop this little story here as I couldn’t think of an ending that wasn't too graphic.

    Effort
    After speaking to a few good lads in the industry, what I find is that many are still scared at the thought of working on them. Fair enough if you haven’t had any relevant training on the subject, you may be worried. However, if make the effort to learn about hybrid and electric vehicles you will prosper. After all they are the future, whether we like it or not. But what do I know? I just work with cars.

  • Hello can we talk? 

    I have been known to say that “Communication is a wonderful thing." Usually the context of this statement is that there has not been good communication and it has resulted in one or both of us missing something or being agitated with one another for not communicating well to the other what was intended.
        
    Probably sounds familiar to many of you, but in the business context it is vitally important that you can communicate with your customers in a way that conveys professionalism and instils both confidence and trust. This is ever-more difficult against a background of increasing vehicle technology and decreasing levels of technical understanding from your customers.
        
    At its most fundamental level, effective communication is the exchange of thoughts, information, ideas, and messages between people. However, it’s not communication unless the transmission is understood. Communication can happen verbally, nonverbally, in writing, and through behaviour as well as by listening and using feedback.
        
    No matter who or what audience you address, the art of communication can be a daunting task – as indeed, it is an art form. The good news is that there are seven steps to clear and effective communication for even the most challenging conversations with customers when trying to explain what is wrong with their vehicle.

    Strategies
    So how can you communicate effectively in this increasing technical environment? One of the best ways is to imagine that you are talking to your grandmother – she may be a little slow to understand, is very non-technical and is going a little deaf!
        
    Keep it simple: Think about how you can make the complicated simple. Do not use highly technical terms or technical abbreviations and explain slowly and clearly. A good example would not be to say: "Sorry, but your EGR valve is blocked by carbon build up on the pintle needle so now it can’t control the correct NOx requirements." Instead, say: "There is a valve on your vehicle’s engine which is required to control exhaust emissions and it is not working correctly." If the customer wants to know more you could always add: "Because it is blocked by carbon build up from the exhaust system, as it recycles exhaust gasses to reduce the exhaust emissions."

    Simples! – as they say.
        
    Does it make sense? Always ask yourself; Does what I’m saying make sense to the person I am speaking to and subsequently does the feedback I’m receiving confirm that they have understood?. When both parties in the conversation are truly able to say they understand or that it is all clear  effective communication has been achieved.
        
    Failure to Communicate – it’s down to you: Remember, as the primary communicator you are 100% responsible for the other person’s understanding of the communication. In other words, if you don’t feel that you are being understood, you have not completed the job of communicating. Don’t try to change what you are trying to communicate, but how you are communicating it.
        
    Stay on Message: Be clear about what ideas you are trying to express or the message you are trying to convey to the other person. What do you most want them to understand?
        
    It takes two: Try to really understand where others are coming from. What are they trying to say? What messages are they trying to get across to you? Pay special attention not just to what they are saying, but to what isn’t being said as well as their body language. Finally, if in doubt – ask!
        
    Sorry, what did you say? Do you really hear what others are saying? To really listen you should stop everything else that you are doing and really listen to what is being said to you. You should then summarise your understanding by being able to feed back to them exactly what you have understood them to have said. Good communication is a two-way thing.
        
    Respect: Recognise that your message is not just about you or what you want. It’s about what’s in it for the listener.  You must mutually understand what is being said and the corresponding implications. After all, they took the time and trouble to hear what you have to say, so it’s equally important to recognise and respect that we each have different perspectives based on our positions, motivations, and needs.
        
    Good communication for technically difficult aspects is a combination of both ‘what you say and how you say it’. In summary, keep it simple, keep it short, be a good listener and be both respectful and empathetic. Above all, avoid being condescending.

    In writing
    When communicating in writing, ensure that you are concise, that you write clearly about the specific point and consider that if you were in the recipient’s position, would they understand what you have written, especially in all the points that they need to know from you. Your audience doesn't want to read six sentences when you could communicate your message in three. Read what you have written and delete any words that are not needed to clearly explain what you need to say. Less is more, as long as you include everything you need to say.
        
    Effective written communication ensures that the audience has everything they need to be informed about, and if applicable, take action. If your message does include a 'call to action', does your audience clearly know what you need them to do?

    Good example
    As an example of good communication, I use a local independent workshop and Keith, the manager, is the epitome of how it should be done. It goes something like: "Hello Neil, your car is in today for a full service, so we will need it until around 2 o’clock. Can I have the key please? Is this mobile number the best to use so we can call you if I have any questions or to let you know when it is ready and finally is there anything else you would like us to know about that we may need to look at today?" Followed by my reply: "Great Keith, no, nothing else, so many thanks and see you later."
        
    Quick, polite and concise. When I pick my car up, he uses similarly simple and clear language to explain what was done, advice on any other issues they noticed before explaining the invoice, asking if everything is clear or are there any questions before requesting payment. Importantly, Keith never tries to baffle his customers with technical terms and avoids being condescending – important points in the key areas of creating professionalism, confidence and trust in this increasingly technical environment. It is a bit like your grandmother saying that the simple things in life are often the best and this applies to good communication when talking technical.  

    xenconsultancy.com

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