A simple improvement in daily productivity can result in a substantial increase over the course of a month. Let’s do the math based on 3 technicians working 8 hours a day. Your inventory labor is 24 hours of billable time each day and, in a perfect world, the shop will bill 24 hours. The question is, “How many perfect days do any of us ever really have?” We average about 72% productivity across the nation, which an 8-hour day tabs out to billing only 5.75 hours! If you are within the average 72% productive, billing 5.75 hours per day, per tech, strategies for improvement could start with increasing productivity to just 80%. You’d bill an additional .65 hours per day and, multiplied by 3 technicians, that totals an added 1.95 hours per day. In an average month of 21 working days, this is an additional 40.95 billable hours, an increase that many would consider substantial. Remember that this simple improvement represents only slightly more than one half hour per day!
Low productivity happens, but why? It’s always easiest to blame the techs, but several factors contribute.
Battling strategies between technical and sales staff created by inadequate skills: An example would be a service writer who does not agree with the charges and timeframes the technician has recommended. The service writer ignores the proper resale rules and adjusts the charges to the customer, selling the job for less. This heavily impacts productivity. On the flip side, regardless of skillful sales management, inability in technicians to perform the work properly will always impact productivity, too. Insufficient space to handle the car count: Too few work bays, too many work bays inside of too little space, poor work space layout, poor access to equipment - all of these impact your time management. Very often, we choose to work with familiar struggle rather than endure change and make it right. So, what are the psychological working conditions in the business? Is that environment stressed with problems?
Insufficient time available for the service advisor to properly write the estimates: This may or may not be an “understaffed” problem. Sometimes, adjusting the work responsibility will free up more time for better estimate preparation. There is a certain percentage of service advisors, however, that start fires when none are currently burning to help substantiate their participation at work (putting out fires is work) as they avoid the “dreaded estimate write up.”
The service advisor lacks adequate time to properly present the estimate to the customer: Proper presentation must include a description of goals and strategies for repairing the vehicle to show value for the money you’ll be asking the customer to spend. Just because the service advisor finds time to close the sale does not mean that a “good sale” has been closed. Making a sale simply confirms that a transaction will take place; making a good sale rewards both business and customer by satisfying all expectations.
Lack of adequate car count: Correcting this problem needs to include reviewing the success rate of your advertising and contact strategies; the ratios in curiosity calls versus calls converted to appointments, and the ratios of appointments honored versus “no shows.” Tracking these will help decide if low car count can be due to poor phone skills or poor advertising; maybe both are culprit.
Too many cars (yes, it happens): Too many cars but low productivity can equal the service writer needing to qualify the customers better. Failing to thoroughly inspect every car for needed work is another contribution to low productivity. Consider this: you’ve spent a ton of money advertising to get the car in there; you’ve spent a healthy sum on training and continue to invest in motivation and knowledge for your employees to bring that customer in and make good sales; you plan your future according to prospects that are based on customers’ needs… why would you not take full advantage of reaping full benefit from the opportunity you have when the car finally comes in?