4 phases of competenceThe 4 Phases of Competence

Do you remember how you learned to tie your shoelaces, drive a car,  or play your favorite team sport?  You went through the 4 phases of competence every single time.

  1. You had no clue you were missing a skill
  2. You were (made) aware what the lacking skill was
  3. You worked on honing the skill
  4. Your muscles did it without you thinking about it.


Reach the state of being unaware of the skill

Wait, what? Why would not being aware of my skill be beneficial?

Good question. Ask a policeman, firefighter, athlete on the field, pilot, SWAT team member, operator of a complex machine, etc.

They exemplify work under pressure with limited time and must be ready for the unexpected, and need to respond in a fraction of a second. Event driven work causes us to make mistakes if we can’t rely on the muscle memory to do the right thing. When under pressure we retrieve to what we do best and are comfortable with. You could say learning is the way of turning discomfort into comfort. That is in my humble opinion the reason, why curious people take chances, whereas people, who are too comfortable with their environment shy away from learning. Here is my favorite aspect of stage 4 “Be unaware of your skills”: this is where the fun starts, because it is the formula for winning. Since you already do things correctly unconsciously you can now add other actions to focus on. Whether this is coordinating with a teammate the next surprising move to score against the opponent, preparing yourself for the next challenge while still performing the previous task, or anticipating what comes next. The quote by the famous Wayne Gretzky comes to mind

“I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it is currently.”

In other words, if you are busy honing your skills, there is no mental state and time available to anticipate where the puck is going to be.

Take your service advisor(s) and techs on a journey

Shops, which have successfully introduced SmartFlow are either in stage 3 or 4 of this process. I would like to offer a path to success below, so that you can anticipate where the puck is going to be! The best report you have to check in with your team is the inspection metric report. It shows the behavior of techs and service advisor and thus allows you to immediately identify what skill to hone.

1. Start the journey and define the process (Unaware of the missing skill)

Digital Inspections allow for unprecedented efficiency gains for the service advisor and also for the technician, but more importantly, the ability to educate the motorist at and beyond the counter. In order to gain the ARO increase shown in the image below certain skills have to be learned, honed and turned into muscle memory.

avg ro over number of pictures SmartFlow

Tech Skills
  1. Perform an inspection thoroughly
    1. Perform inspections on 100% of all vehicles
    2. Take pictures per picture policy
      1. Use the fluid tray
      2. Use brake lining gauges, battery testers, tire gauges, and every other visual aid that communicates information to the motorist.
      3. Take a picture of every item that is NOT marked “Good”
    3. Don’t pencil whip or over-recommend
    4. Finish the inspection
    5. Select condition(s) AND recommended action(s) for every item that is not marked “Good”
Service Advisor Skills
  1. At drop-off show previous inspection results and compare with service history to get immediate authorization for previously declined jobs
  2. Collect email addresses using the Digital Inspection script
  3. Highlight problem areas on the pictures with red arrows and circles
  4. Use educational info, pictures and videos embedded automatically to educate the motorist
  5. Use the SmartFlow Add-On to add all recommended actions to the estimate
    1. Don’t skip any recommended , even, when in doubt…
    2. … decline it in front of the customer to show care and produce a recommended service in the service reminder
  6. Email every inspection to the motorist upon reviewing the inspection for picture policy compliance
    1. Even if they don’t do the work today your inspection and estimate will remain top of mind.
    2. Often times we do not know who the decision maker is and a quality digital inspection report will generate discussion within a household. This can result in follow up sales without interacting with the customer at all.
Shop Owner/Manager Skills
  1. Define Inspection Sheet
    1. Use AutoVitals Library and modify topics per your own policy
    2. Conduct an inspection with your technicians to determine which topics are required to make your inspection process quick and gather the most valuable information.Don’t exceed 40 topics for a courtesy checklist You may find that more topics create a faster process because the technicians have a place to provide valuable information. The number of conditions and actions(canned jobs) should be sufficient to prevent technicians from typing unique comments into the inspection sheet.
    3. Add as many canned jobs as possible to the inspection sheet as recommended actions
  2. Define and enforce the Picture Policy
  3. Consider paying techs for the inspection
  4. Buy fluid trays for your techs
  5. Get a tablet for each tech
  6. Set up dual screen(s) for the service advisor(s)

2. Make the new process known to techs & service advisor(s) –  Be aware of lacking skills

The introduction of new skills while conducting the business as usual is challenging and rewarding at the same time. Whether you do it in baby steps or turn the big switch at once depends on your leadership style. We have seen both ways succeed and fail. The important thing is to lay out the new process, ideally as a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and make everybody aware of what is expected from them. Give them time to acclimate as well as define and measure success. Please consider leveraging our Digital Supervisor and Digital Operations training options, where all steps are well defined and performed with the help of a trainer, including visit(s) on-site (Digital Operations Training only).

3. Measure and manage –  Hone the skills

This step makes and breaks the success of the introduction of something new.

  • If you can’t measure you start guessing and typically that goes nowhere
  • People will claim to have changed and be a master of the new skill but it will be hearsay

Introducing the ONE report helping you determine adherence to the new process:

The Inspection Metrics Report

The following screenshots illustrate major aspects of how to use any and all of the reports mentioned above.

A. Run the Inspection Metrics Report daily

Section I: Are the basics met?

inspection policy


  1. Are at least 80% of all vehicles inspected? (Unacceptable: 45%, determine the reason and fix it)
  2. Have all customer provide their email address (Good: 80%)
  3. Have all customers received their inspection report by email before the estimate authorization (Good: 75%)

Section II: Is the Inspection Sheet configured with enough recommended actions from canned jobs?

recommended actions

  1. How many  actions have been recommended? Result: Good: almost 6 per vehicle, best are 8-11.
  2. How many recommended actions are canned jobs? Result: Not Aligned: almost 50% are not canned jobs, check the inspection sheet, add more canned jobs if necessary.
  3. How many recommendations from canned jobs made it to the estimate? Result: Not aligned: 10 recommended actions didn’t make it.
  4. How many got approved? Result: Not Aligned: only 4 out of 19 got sold, worse: a tech has to make 20 recommended actions to get ONE job to work on.

Section III: Break down policy adherence (or the lack thereof) to techs and SA

details of Inspection metrics report

  1. Are techs used to performing digital inspections? Result: Good: the net time spent on the tablet is consistent and less than 10 minutes
  2. Do techs perform the inspection consistently? Result: Outlier: One tech tech considerably more time to perform the inspection, need to check the tech efficiency report to get to details per Work Order.
  3. Do techs adhere to picture policy (here 8 images per vehicle)? Result: Good: Pictures are taken as instructed with slight deviations.
  4. Do service advisor(s) adhere to recommended actions policy? Result: Good, about 66% make it to the estimate.
  5. Do service advisors sell the recommended action based jobs? Result: Unacceptable, less than 20% get sold. Next step is to check what jobs have been declined and how was the recommended action enriched with images and notes from the techs.
  6. Do other jobs get added to the estimate, indicating the recommended actions are not defined matching the service advisor’s preferences? Result: yes, more additional jobs have been added, indicating the recommended actions need to be defined better. Worse, for those jobs, the decline rate is too high to be ignored. All service advisors need to be trained on the education practice. Work order specific information can be determined by downloading the complete history (see Section IV below).

Note the first column helps you find out if a specific SA follows your policy of emailing inspection results before getting authorization.


Section IV: Determine exact technician and service advisor behavior for group session about team improvement potential.

work order compilation report

  1. Digital Inspection done, congrats
  2. Inspection results emailed before authorization, congrats
  3. Motorist came in for Tire replacement
  4. Additional replacements have been recommended by the tech, need to screen the work order to see whether they got turned into jobs, since they were not canned jobs based recommended actions.
  5. Recommended actions based on canned jobs and were partially the initial concern why the vehicle came in the first place….
  6. ….. all others have been declined.
  7. Additional jobs have been added by the SA, partially based on existing recommended actions from the inspection, partially from an unknown source (air filters and ….
  8. … battery has been added by the SA), all declined.

The shop policy about recommended actions, and how those are sold/educated should be reviewed as best potential for improvement.

Once in place and reviewed weekly the report will show remarkable improvements in ARO and added hours to the work order.

Continuous improvement is the key to success.

4. Spot where the puck goes –  Add other goals and tasks

Once the inspection metrics report shows improvements and you have reached your goals (see below for a set of ambitious goals), set your eyes on the next set of goals.

  1. Inspection rate: 85%
  2. Email rate: 75%
  3. Number of recommended actions per inspection: 8-11
  4. Number of recommended actions on the estimate: 85%
  5. Number of jobs on the estimate sold: 60%
  6. ARO increase by 20%

Options for the next set of goals:

  • Increase the vehicle travel time through the shop by 20%
  • Establish an exit schedule plan for your service advisor(s) and schedule the next appointment
  • Create an outline for the service advisor on how to use the SmartFlow videos for education