Whether you are using ERO (Electronic Repair Orders) or paper repair orders – one of the biggest and easiest chargebacks for an auditor is a missing signature. It is a slam dunk; give me the money.
Customer signatures are required to maintain compliance with manufacturers' policies and procedures. Most manufacturers require them on the final copy as well as on the hard copy write-up. All OEMs require that the customer sign the hard copy PRIOR to the repair. It is important that the signature is on the statement where the customer is approving that you can do work on their vehicle. Not just signing a statement approving an estimate for the customer pay work. In some dealerships, there are two statements, one for approving estimates, and one for approving that you can work on their vehicle.
After you have listed all the customer complaints, they must sign giving you the authorization to work on their vehicle. This is just like going to the doctor’s office: you're always asked to sign that you agree to the procedure.
Next, let’s say that you finished doing a proper write-up with the customer concerns listed. You have printed the hard copy, and your customer says, “Oh wait! I forgot to add that my widget is falling off.” In these cases, you need to hand write the new concern about the widget falling off by using the verbiage, “customer added widget is falling off,” and then have the customer initial next to the added line and sign the bottom of the hard copy.
I have had some advisors say, “I am just going to reprint it and have the customer sign the corrected copy." The problem with this is that it still shows as a duplicate print and an asterisk as an added repair. So make sure you cover all bases and have the customer sign next to the added repair even if you reprint.
Here are some other important facts for obtaining authorization via the customer signature before ANY work is started on their vehicle:
It is terrible to sit with the auditor who points out to you that “oops” all your pre-writes are signed but they are blank. So that means your customer signed approving NOTHING.
Put someone in charge so you don’t get charged!