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Host Turned Guest: Tom Dorsey Joins Jay Goninen on Beyond the Wrench

74cb75bab2243992e98fab5156007185827084cf97936f24c0c66a651388df90Tom Dorsey, host of The Digital Shop Talk Radio, was a guest on this week’s Beyond the Wrench with Jay Goninen. The topic of discussion was an important one in the automotive industry: the relationship between auto technicians and service writers. 

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In a paper-based shop, Tom believes there are two types of businesses.

  1.     The first hides the techs in the back, never allowing them to come out, like the mystical Wizard of Oz, while the service writer is the main point of contact for the motorists and the conduit for everything.
  2.     The second is almost the opposite. The technician is always up front, either because of a lack of communication, so they are unsure of what they should be doing, or because the service writer cannot answer motorist questions, so the tech has to step in. 

Both are unsuccessful in Tom’s mind, especially when you think about how the internet has changed everything – especially customer expectations. 

0 (2)“There are a whole bunch of challenges,” Tom told Jay about the importance of the internet, “but there is so much opportunity.”

That is where AutoVitals comes in, said Tom. The Digital Shop® is built to connect the technician, the front counter, the shop owner, and the motorist through communication and transparency. Creating those connections is why Tom and the staff at AutoVitals get out of bed in the morning. 

It has also led to success for AutoVitals customers.

“We’ve got guys at 100% increase in ARO,” Tom told Jay. “I’ve got Meineke shops, franchise shops, that started at $90 ARO and are at $450 now.” 

Increase Your ARO With DVI



If relationships are tense between your writer and tech, the thought of adding new technology to the mix may be unappealing. Still, Tom has found tools such as the digital vehicle inspection can mend those fences and create buy-in. 

Digital Vehicle Inspection

“The tech’s experience can be, ‘Finally, the service advisor can’t hide from my recommendations,’” Tom said. “Technicians finally see the benefit and are catching more work.” 

That alone makes it pretty easy for them to get on board. 

On the flip side, the service writer who has been in the industry for 30 years may see this as more work initially. But the process changes make things easier. 

“It’s kind of a sea change for the service writer who is used to be captain of that ship and are afraid of giving that up, but really you’re not,” Tom said. “All you’re really doing is cloning yourself multiple times and allowing you to have that conversation and experience with multiple people at once. If you can embrace that, boy, do you reap the benefits.” 


Paper shop fixes

For shops still using paper and whiteboards to conduct business, Tom has a few suggestions to improve the relationship between auto techs and service writers. 

“All digital best practices are best practices for a paper based shop as well,” Tom told Jay. “The difference is you’ve still got one gang of guys and a rope pulling the giant boulder, and I’m over here in an excavator.”

He gave Jay three areas for paper shops to focus:

  1. Communication before drop off - How am I setting up customers for a visit? What information am I pre-communicating? Digital shops can send photos and videos to customers, reminding them about delayed work and scheduling it for the upcoming appointment. Paper shops can do the same, but it may just look different and not be as quick. 
  2. Exit scheduling - Make sure your shop is taking advantage of exit scheduling. Some shops are hesitant to be to “salesy,” but Tom encourages writers to take advantage of this time and book additional business.  
  3. Workflow management - More effective workflow management and assignment of tasks will save you hours each week.

    “After you listen to this show, count how many times you walk out to the bays today,” Tom suggested. “If you’re not on some workflow management program. How many times do you go out to a tech and interrupt him while he’s under a hood? Count it. Time it. Then multiply it, how many days in a week, how many days in a month. You will be stunned at how much money is going out the back door every time you do that.” 

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Listen to the entire episode here: 


If you want to hear more from Tom, check out The Digital Shop® Talk Radio. New episodes come out each Wednesday at 10 a.m. PT. 

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