Online Scheduling Tools Create Efficiency in Fixed Ops

Jim Leman Talks Up Xtime Automated Services

Edi­to­r­i­al com­ment: Jim Leman, who writes about finance and insur­ance issues for the auto indus­try, takes it a step fur­ther in this arti­cle writ­ten for Ward’s Auto by tout­ing the ben­e­fits of online sched­ul­ing tools in deal­er­ship Ser­vice Depart­ments.

Says Leman: At first, most deal­er­ship cus­tomers were reluc­tant to use online sched­ul­ing for ser­vice appoint­ments. Now, they appear to expect it.

Online appoint­ments and oth­er sched­ul­ing tech­nolo­gies have been at deal­er­ship ser­vice depart­ments’ dis­pos­al for some time. But they are gain­ing more wide­spread use for a vari­ety of rea­sons. Those include tech­nol­o­gy advance­ments that have made them eas­i­er and more con­ve­nient for cus­tomers to use.

Leman calls on Xtime CEO Neal East, NADA U’s Bob Atwood and oth­ers to sup­port the ben­e­fits of using online sched­ul­ing tools.

Deal­ers are reap­ing their own ben­e­fits from such sys­tems.

“Our shops’ effi­cien­cies have real­ly increased because these tech­nolo­gies elim­i­nate over- and under-book­ings that cause bot­tle­necks and under-uti­lized hours,” says Roy McAl­is­ter, fixed oper­a­tions direc­tor for Thomas Nis­san and Thomas Toy­ota in Joli­et, IL.

“As a result, our repair-order count is up 45%, which doesn’t hap­pen if you don’t have a good sched­ul­ing sys­tem that gives you 360-degree views into your work­flow and sched­ule cal­en­dar,” he says.

Part of the increased use of online sched­ul­ing stems from chang­ing cus­tomer habits says Bob Atwood, man­age­ment instruc­tor at the Nation­al Auto­mo­bile Deal­ers Assn.’s Deal­er Acad­e­my.

A life-long deal­er­ship cus­tomer is worth hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars in busi­ness, Atwood says

“Even when cus­tomers book their own appoint­ments through this tech­nol­o­gy, we always stress to the ser­vice man­agers in our class­es that they tele­phone or text the cus­tomer to ver­i­fy their appoint­ment has been received and con­firmed,” he says.

By help­ing to max­i­miz­ing shop uti­liza­tion, keeps tech­ni­cians pro­duc­tive, says Xtime CEO Neal East.

Deal­ers are offer­ing auto­mat­ed ser­vice sched­ul­ing and traf­fic con­trol tools to respond to ser­vice cus­tomer con­cerns of con­ve­nience, trust and val­ue.

Bud­dy Toups, ser­vice man­ag­er for Infini­ti of Lafayette in Lafayette, LA, agrees. “For Infini­ti cus­tomers who live their lives by appoint­ment, our abil­i­ty to let them book appoint­ments online and com­mit to their self-sched­uled time and day is a crit­i­cal require­ment that we must sim­ply meet,”.

To deliv­er on such cus­tomer expec­ta­tions while improv­ing work­flow through­out the shop, deal­er­ships like Toups’ use soft­ware-dri­ven appoint­ment sched­ul­ing, traf­fic man­age­ment and ser­vice write-up tools to replace man­u­al, paper-based process­es.

Toups’ shop uses Xtime’s auto­mat­ed sched­ul­ing tool to avoid over­book­ing and keep things mov­ing along.

Jim Leman, a free­lance busi­ness writer and com­pli­ance con­sul­tant, can be reached at or on his blog site.




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