That’s the reality of your service appointment. That is, as it pertains to the time you booked the appointment for. And there’s not much to be done about it.

That’s a bit sensational and isn’t entirely correct. If you’re booked for first in the morning, then your time most likely will be honoured (more on that later). But you, the first in, are what ruins everyone else’s time later in the day.

When we book an appointment, we allocate a set amount of time, usually an hour, for two things: 1) the service being requested; and2) an inspection/diagnosis for your complaint or to determine potential future problems to be addressed before they become larger, more expensive, issues.

If your vehicle is being serviced via a maintenance guide item, or, if it doesn’t require a repair or additional work, then usually the time allotted works. However, when repair or replacements are found, that’s when you can start throwing the best laid schedules out the window.

Consider this example:

You come in for an oil change and a squeal coming from the rear. We’ll allocate an hour for the oil change and diagnosis.

An efficient Technician will start doing your diagnosis while the oil is draining out of the pan. This multi-tasking allows for a quicker turn-around.

However, as part of the diagnosis it is determined your rear brakes are in need of replacement. And to compound it, your front brakes are nearly finished as well so you elect to replace those too.

That’s great, you need brakes, they are pretty important in the overall scheme of things. However, that one hour we allocated? That’s no longer nearly enough time.

Now your appointment has suddenly gone from one hour of time, to four hours. In theory, you just consumed three additional one-hour appointments that were booked after you.

It would be fair to say we should account for that. But it’s not that easy. The service department sells time. And the goal is to maximize the time available.

If the schedule assumes a diagnosis will lead to four hours but it only generates one, and the appointment load is minimized to give space for those four hours, then the department isn’t efficient.

Sometimes the day doesn’t even start off with appointments slotting in as designed. Some mornings start with vehicles from the previous day still on hoists. They’re called carry-overs and they need to be completed first.

We should all have sympathy for the appointment coordinators and Service Managers who have to manage this puzzle of time.

So, what is your appointment good for? It gets you in the door. It provides a guarantee that you are going to have your vehicle diagnosed. And if the shop values its customers, you’d be accommodated if any delay is longer than is reasonable.

This appointment phenomenon is not specific to only automotive. Who hasn’t shown up for a doctors appointment only to wait well past the specified time?

Dentist? Same thing.

In fact, I’m willing to bet any professional service has appointment-based delays. You just simply can’t guarantee what’s going to come through your door. And the best predictive software or experience can only be so accurate.

But without the appointment it is a total craps shoot. No-appointment-necessary means first-come-first-served. You’re far better off making an appointment knowing that we may not be able to guarantee your vehicle goes in when it is booked.

But you can be guaranteed we will honour the fact you committed to coming and allowing us to service your vehicle. So we will make sure you’re accommodated if things get too backed up.

In other words, make the appointment. Just understand why sometimes when you show up for your 10am time slot, your vehicle might still be sitting outside at 11am.

We’ll get to it, we promise!

Thank you for reading! 🙂