How To Streamline Your Auto Shop’s Checkout Process

March 11, 2024
Guides & Templates
3 min read

In a survey conducted by PartsTech, we asked auto shops, “If you could do one thing better in your shop, what would it be?” One area of inefficiency that came up in responses was the process around vehicle pickup and checkout. Here are two real responses: 

  • “Increase the speed and efficiency of checkout processes.” 
  • “Implement a streamlined checkout process to minimize customer waiting times.” 

Efficiency is key in every area of your workflow, and speeding up your vehicle pickup process is a low-hanging opportunity to provide your customers (and employees) with a positive, stress-free experience. 

How to Speed Your Auto Shop’s Checkout Process

Spoiler alert! Most of the steps below involve using digital tools. We understand that the word “digital” causes some shop owners to pause. Whether you lack the time to find and implement digital tools or don’t feel particularly tech-savvy, we encourage you to explore solutions, see some demos, and weigh the benefits. Embracing digital tools for vehicle pickup can dramatically enhance customer satisfaction and boost operational efficiency. Even if you’re not particularly tech-savvy, this is a great area to consider taking some small steps in trying digital solutions in your shop. 

Step 1: Text and Email Customers When Their Vehicle is Ready

Use a system that sends an SMS text and/or an email to notify customers when their vehicle is ready for pickup. This will reduce the time your staff spends on the phone to notify customers that their car is done, and it’s a highly convenient way for customers to instantly see that their vehicle is ready. 

Step 2: Introduce an Online Payment Option

Text or email customers their invoices before they pick up their vehicles. Allow customers to settle their invoices online before they arrive at your shop, making the pickup process quicker and more convenient. The world has become very accustomed to online payments, and the large majority of your customers will love this option.

Step 3: Add a Secure Key Drop Box for After-Hours Pickup

Offer the convenience of after-hours pickup through a secure key drop box system. Invest in a safe, code-operated lockbox or an electronic locker system where keys can be safely stored for customer pickup. Send a unique code or locker number to the customer once their vehicle is ready and the bill is settled — allowing them to pick up their keys securely at their convenience. 

Step 4: Educate Your Team and Customers

Ensure your team is well-trained in the pickup process. Conduct training sessions to familiarize your staff with the process, focusing on troubleshooting common customer issues. Make sure customers are aware of communication, payment, and after-hours pickup options.

Finding the Right Digital Tools 

There are many software options to help with Steps 1 and 2 above. We recommend starting your research by checking out shop management systems that are purpose-built for auto shops. Many of these solutions offer both the ability to text and email customers and accept online payments. Learn more about other capabilities of shop management systems and find links to some of our shop management partners in this blog post: Click here.