by Bob Beranek
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Pre-inspection is one of the most important steps in a successful installation. It can mean the difference between good and bad customer relations as well as a safe or unsafe installation. The experienced technician not only looks at the inspection as creating a level playing field but also as an indication of how the installation is to proceed or if it can be done at all. It is also an opportunity to build a positive rapport with the customer.

All technicians know that they should complete a pre-inspection but many do not like to do it because they feel pointing out the defects on the vehicle will upset the customer and make them angry for being picky. If the tech does a pre-inspection the wrong way, yes, they will become agitated. That is why I suggest that the pre-inspection become an explanation of the installation process and the Pre-inspection Form become an Authorization Form.

Instead of pointing out every ding and scratch, rub your hands over the damage. The customer’s eyes will be attracted to your hand which means that they know you noticed the damage and you know that they saw it and no words were spoken. Instead of making a statement like, “there is a dent here and a scratch here,” ask a question or make a lighthearted statement to get you point across.

Items to look for are:

—Dents and scratches in the work area. Concentrate on the passenger side of the vehicle. The passenger side is the least noticed side of the vehicle, yet the most susceptible to damage.

—Early signs of corrosion. If corrosion is visible before mouldings are removed, it is an indication that there is more corrosion present under the glass or moulding. It may be necessary to discuss bodywork or the possibility of denying the installation entirely.

—Moulding fit. If the moulding is not fitting flush to the body or glass, it could indicate a previous installation or other hidden problems. This also should be discussed with the customer.

—Missing or damaged parts. This also can indicate a previous installation. It could mean the installation may take longer to complete to the customer’s satisfaction.

—Aftermarket paint jobs. Usually appears as “orange peel” texture, improper color matching or over spray on mouldings. This can indicate previous bodywork. This may cause problems with glass fit or paint pealing by removal of the moulding or protective tape.

—Interior stains or damage. Check the seats, floor, headliner and interior garnish mouldings. Some stains may indicate a leak that should be addressed before work begins. While others can mean that some exterior parts may be loose or misplaced causing water or air seepage.

—Electronic and mechanical items. These include; wipers, washers, radio, lights, window regulators, power door locks, rain/light sensors, remote start, etc. Make sure all mechanicals are in working order before beginning work or inoperable mechanicals are discussed with the owner.

It is always a good idea to inspect the vehicle in the customer’s presence. But if this is impossible an Authorization Form will help in making the inspection more professional. Complete the form and leave it for the customers along with their copy of the work order. The other option is to take pictures and electronically send them to the customer or attach them to the work order or invoice.