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    There comes a time in most every shop that you come in to see a key and a post-it note as your only link of communication with a customer who wants service on their boat.  Hopefully, this is the very rare exception and NOT the rule in your dealership!  The work order is a legal document and should be treated as such.  Here are ten things that will help ensure that the customer and the technician are literally on the same page: 

1. The customer information – be sure to update and verify this information and ensure that you have accurate phone numbers including area codes and e-mail addresses. Put a star next to the best way to reach the customer. 

2. Proper boat numbers and information including trailer or slip number so we can find it.It is a bad day when you realize you’ve just spent a day of labor on the wrong boat! 

3.  A signature from the customer.It is highly advisable to have your local legal counsel review the small print on your work order yearly to be sure you are properly protected. 

4. The customer’s primary concern should be on the first line of the work order.This way everyone knows what to diagnose first and what to mention when speaking with the customer.Sometimes the boat may have more pressing concerns than what the customer feels is the primary concern.Remember that the customer is ultimately paying the bill so we should honor their primary concern.  

5. The 3 C’s need be on each line of the work order.The customers CONCERN or complaint documented in their own words.There should be as much info as possible about what is happening under what conditions.The CAUSE of the concern as determined by our technician after a proper diagnosis should be written including any supporting information such as tests run or service bulletins that applied.Lastly, after we receive approval from the customer there should be the CORRECTION of what we did to repair or remedy the situation with as much supporting documentation as possible including tests run.

6.  There should be a customer approved estimate documented on the work order or clear warranty information that shows how the job is being paid for including all shop fees, taxes etc.This includes designating any jobs that are being taken care of internally (billed to sales, etc).  

7. All parts should be accounted for and billed out properly.It is incredible how many dollars are thrown away by not getting all parts billed out on the right ticket.Just a quick review of what we did to the boat can often clue us into missing parts. 

8. Similarly, all labor needs to be properly accounted for.One of the best things to monitor is how many labor hours we have per work order.Known as ‘hours per RO’, this is a great way of increasing shop efficiency. 

9. Any and all sublet bills need to be attached to the work order.This includes any outside vendors we used to do gel coat work, upholstery, detailing etc. 

10. Quality control signs off on all jobs with special attention given to the primary concern.This includes looking for additional work and making sure the boat is clean and ready for delivery.

      As we get into the thick of our busy season and the wheels in our shops are turning, it is a great time to go and pick up a stack of recently completed or ready to deliver work orders and see how your team is doing.  Solid communication on the work order increases customer and employee satisfaction and ensures we are getting paid on everything! That is what this time of year is all about.  Make the most of it!

10 Things That Should Be on Every Work Order