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Comeback Solutions


How you handle comebacks can greatly affect productivity. The solution after a comeback, is to make sure each technician put his name or technician number next to each labor line before he turned in his repair order. Do this as a policy change and not as part of disciplining your technicians. (Remember: Keep morale and productivity up.) Here's an example of a problem, and the solution that I would use as a shop owner. Let's say a technician forgets to tighten the oil-pan drain plug. The vehicle comes back with either an oil leak or a seized engine, right? Your first reaction is to confront the technician. Not only is the technician who worked on the car waiting for this, but the other technicians are as well. They are all worried on how you will react.

If you discipline one technician, you're actually disciplining all the technicians. So you must proceed with caution, because you don't want shop productivity to suffer. I view most comebacks as the result of a lack of proper procedures. In this case, of the loose drain plug, I would go to the technician with another oil change. I want to watch his procedure when he performs an oil change, so I tell the technician, "Let's change the oil and filter in this car." I watch the oil being drained and the oil filter being replaced. Next, the technician installs the drain plug and walks to his toolbox for the wrench. Right then and there I say, "Stop! Here is your procedure problem… you never install a drain plug unless you have the wrench in your hand.

What happened on your comeback was, you got distracted at this point and never went to grab the wrench to tighten the drain plug. Do you now see what happened? Will you make this mistake again? We all make mistakes, and I've even been known to make mistakes. If we don't learn from our mistakes, we'll keep making the same mistakes over and over again. Will you make this same mistake again?" The technician replies, "No never." I say, "If you do, what should I do?" He replies, "You should fire me." I say, "But now that you've learned from your mistake, we have nothing to worry about, right?" He replies, "No, we don't." I say, "Well, I guess it's time to go back to work isn't it. And don't worry about your mistake… mistakes happen." What is the morale of the shop and every technician? They've all learned something about procedures and something about me.