So You Think You Are Efficient
By Denise L. Rondini, Executive Editor
Do you think your business is operating at peak efficiency? If you answered yes, when was the last time you actually examined each area of your operation to see if there are pockets of waste and redundancy?
Saying you are efficient and actually knowing you are efficient are two different things. I recently was speaking to a distributor who also offers service and the subject of service efficiency came up. He remarked that labor is a different kind of inventory and that whether you sell it or not, you are paying for it hour after hour.
That makes it important to not only sell your labor hours but to be efficient in selling them. To determine how efficient his service operation was, this distributor took an in-depth look at his business’s repair process including keeping track of things that were not directly related to the repair of the vehicle. He found things like rolling up the garage door, driving the truck outside, parking it, coming back in to the shop and rolling the door back down, took as much as 20 minutes per job.
And that did not include the time the technician had to spend tracking down the service manager to find out what his next job would be and then repeating the process of getting the truck into the bay.
It is important to not only sell your labor hours but to sell them efficiently.
By studying the process, this distributor was able to realize where the inefficiencies were and then take steps to eliminate or at least reduce them. This resulted in some significant changes in his shop, some of which required him to spend money.
However, he believed these investments would result in the improved efficiencies he was seeking. So he laid out cash for lifting systems, information systems, tech management systems and even developed his own scheduling program that includes a visual image of his shops.
This system allows his service managers to see at a glance which bays are in use and which are available. The system also allows the service managers to schedule work into a specific bay so technicians no longer have to find the service manager to find out what jobs they will be working on next.
What was the result of all these changes? The 20 minutes was reduced to five. Now that might not seem like a big deal to you. But remember that is 15 minutes saved per tech per job. I will let you do the math for your facility.
One thing is clear: the time saving and resulting efficiency improvement can be significant and result in your shop being able to actually handle more repairs per shift. And we all know that more repairs per shift should equal more cash to your bottom line.
My distributor friend said this about the process: “If you can have the truck in the bay so a technicians can move to it when he completes the job he has been on, have everything there he needs for the repair, if it needs to be up on the high lift have it up, have the hood open, so he just stops the first job and walks over and starts the next one. That is the most effective use of his time.”
This distributor built his systems around that philosophy and has been enjoying increased efficiency ever since. But it all started with him taking the time to look in depth at all of the things — both big and small — that his technicians do when repairing a vehicle and then determining the best way to eliminate or minimize the things not directly related to “turning a wrench.”
If you haven’t already taken a closer look at your operation and broken each activity down into steps and then analyzed those steps, I suggest you consider adding that to your To Do List.
Remember 15 minutes here, 15 minutes there and soon you are talking real savings.