It’s been about an hour, and you are no closer to finding the problem on that 2012 Equinox.
The Internet was a waste of time, the diagnostic trouble-tree led to a dead end, and your fellow techs are no help. This is when most techs should look to a hotline to help solve the mystery.
But is this the best use of your hotline subscription? Not necessarily. There’s a good chance that using your hotline for the bail-out call will save you money in the long run on a particularly challenging job. Most hotline services are designed to get you out of a jam as quickly as possible with experienced techs or crowd-sourced repair forums. However, you can also leverage the use of a good hotline service near the beginning of your diagnostic process.
For instance, if your hotline works on a per case basis (no extra charge for additional calls on one car), you can opt for using the hotline earlier in your workflow for diagnostic assistance.
When you make the call’, may also be based on the type of service you choose. Do they charge by the minute, by the call, by the case, or by subscription? Is their expertise crowd-sourced or are they ASE Master Certified? Does the service have access to OEM and supplemental repair procedures? Do they have the patience and skill set to explain ‘how’ to perform a task effectively? These factors all play a major role in determining how much you can leverage your service and how much money that can save you.
For instance, if your hotline works on a per case basis (no extra charge for additional calls on one car), you can opt for using the hotline earlier in your workflow for diagnostic assistance. Especially when you are in a time crunch and the problem seemingly defies all logic. If your hotline has manufacturer expertise, they will often steer you to the right diagnostic procedure faster than forums or Internet searches because of their in-house, hands-on experience.
Another way to leverage some hotline services that’s not quite as readily apparent is to use it as a training resource for your B and C level techs. This is because training is expensive and your A techs are too busy making you money to take the time to train your B and C techs. There are a few hotline services that provide a portion of their time as a real-world training tool – your techs will benefit from the expertise and experience of A techs without distracting your own.
In addition to training, your hotline service can be used as a short-term stand-in when your A tech is unavailable due to illness, family emergencies, vacations, etc. Your B and C techs can get A-level support from highly-qualified hotline technicians who can walk them through repair and diagnostic procedures. This is an inexpensive method of outsourcing expertise and training inexperienced techs, all with the same service that you are paying for now.
With the right hotline plan, the answer to ‘when do you call’ is clear: early and often. You’ll save money with diagnostics, gain valuable training, and keep your A techs focused on the work at hand.