Keep your techs in the bay

This is a big one. Equip your bays with as many tools and parts as can reason- ably fit — and assign other employees to provide what doesn’t — so your technician has no reason to leave his workspace during a typical day.

Overlooking that central clause can torpedo a lot of other productivity improvements, says Delaney.

“I think for us the challenge always has been and will remind speed. How fast can we get the truck through the bay?” he says. “One of the biggest ways to impact that is keeping the technician working.” “It’s a huge cost for us and our customer to have a truck sitting there [in a bay] and no one be working on it,” says Sean Ryan, vice president at Point Spring & Driveshaft.

Access to technology is another area that can’t be overlooked, says Eric Liddell, director of product management and integration at Procede Software.

Dedicating one bay to diagnostics does not mean others should be devoid of it.

Technicians should have computers and/or tablets with Internet access in their bay or immediately accessible, complete with login information for OE and supplier training sites.

“It’s really all about integration,” says Liddell. “Business systems used to just be a way to get your business information on the books, but now it is so much more than that.

“Now you can integrate systems and include data from all different areas in one place.”

Access to your shop management system should be available as well.

Michael Riemer, vice president of products and channel marketing at Decisiv, says there are multiple reasons for this. He says techs must be able to identify, at any moment, what a customer has pre-authorized them to do. But he says techs also should be allowed to update a repair order while working.

“We’ve found service providers lose time in little chunks and big chunks,” he says. “The big chunks are when a tech can’t work. When the service provider doesn’t have approval from a fleet to con- tinue so an entire repair shuts down.”

But Riemer says when a tech updates the status of a repair in Decisiv’s online cloud-based software, a vehicle owner immediately becomes aware of what’s next and can proactively approve future steps so the tech doesn’t need to stop.

“We give visibility to the vehicle owner so they know what’s going on,” he says.

Riemer and Delaney also note aftermarket research indicates less than 20 percent of all vehicle downtime is attributable to actual service and repair. The remaining 80 percent comes from waiting for customer authorizations, parts, tools and process breakdowns.

Minimize or remove those issues and downtime plummets.

“We’ve been able to drive approval times for repairs from two days down to 10 minutes for some customers,” Delaney says.

Tip 4: Assign a parts procurement person

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