Production Workflow Management General Fixed Operations Operations

Effectively Managing a Busy Shop

Order Reprints

As I mentioned last month, I have been trying to split my time between both stores for several months now. With the new store, I have concentrated on process and marketing to grow the business, while at the main store, I have relied on my managers to maintain the operation we have in place and produce controlled growth. Unfortunately, while I was completing my paperwork to complete the end of the month for May, I noticed that our work in process was starting to grow at an alarming rate.

With our growth in 2016, we had no choice but to split off most of the light maintenance and repairs to our quick lane in order to keep up with the larger heavy line repairs on my main drive. That means that for the past several years, our certified technicians have only completed large or warranty repairs. We have added a few more certified technicians and have given several of our top master technicians helpers to keep everything flowing. However, we have failed to keep up with the demand placed on the service drive, which is mostly my fault.

Earlier this year, when we opened our first expansion of nine more service bays, I wanted to get our advisors back to the basics of selling and put out incentives for them to increase their average hour per customer pay repair order. I believe that before the expansion, we were only taking orders and repairing only the concerns with which our customers came in. To me, this was not taking care of our customers. We would see several people back within a few months with issues we should have caught the first time, which was pissing off our customers. So, we changed the way we inspected vehicles and how we presented additional work request to our customers and we have seen our average customer pay repair and our customer satisfaction increase.

This brings me to where we are today. By improving the way our advisors handle each repair we have lengthened the time the vehicle is here, which reduces the number of vehicles we can look at on a daily basis. That was the outcome I was looking for but now it has caused a backlog of work being able to get into the shop. Our main problem will always be customer satisfaction. You can not tell someone with a mechanical failure that we will not be able to schedule them for over two weeks and expect them to be happy. Even worse, if we bring the vehicle in and are unable to get a technician to look at it for over three days, the customers are even more upset. So, what is the answer to being overbooked?

I really do not know but I know transparent communication is key to attempting to keep your customer happy. Currently, when a customer schedules an appointment we explain to the that their appointment is with one of our service advisors. At that time, the advisor will document their concerns and identify which of our technicians are qualified to complete the repairs. If there is something that our quick lane technicians can complete, we move the work to them. If the work needs to be completed in the main shop, we try to estimate when one of our certified technicians will be able to look at their vehicle. This could be several days from the appointment date.

The only other thing I have been able to do to help out the driver is to have all of the internal repairs go back to my internal service drive. Originally when I set up an internal service department, they were only responsible for getting the vehicle ready to sell and on the lot. However, as most of you know, if any vehicle sits longer than 30 days, there is almost always something wrong with the vehicle when it gets sold. These vehicles in the past have always been sent to the main service drive with the idea that there are more techs in the main service shop so we should be able to get the customer handled faster. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case for us. There are still a few days’ wait to get even our own vehicle repaired.

No matter how I look at it, I no longer believe that being busy is a good problem to have. You have to be able to handle and manage the workload or your customer won’t be happy and will soon start to look for a different repair shop.

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