Successful Customer Relationships Are Found In The Details (Lesson 10)
If you actually look at your whole business as an information highway, you might find that a lot of ‘cars’ are stalled on the side of the road. It takes information to be able to order parts, make repairs and complete the job. Without this information flowing smoothly the cars will stay on the side of the road longer than they should. If you have the ability to know which cars are on the side of the road and why they are there, then you have the ability to get them moving much faster than if you don’t know why they are there in the first place.
It is actually very easy to stay up to date with the status of every single job in your auto workshop. When you have this information at your fingertips you will immediately be able to see the areas where you can improve the efficiency levels in your business.
One of the key traits of the most successful auto workshop owners that we work with, is that they are the ones who channel all of the job information within their auto workshop into one central system so everyone in the business has what they need when they need it. The higher the level of information efficiency operating in your shop, the higher the likelihood that you will be in a position to maximise your profits.
To be profitable in your workshop, each job needs to progress to completion in the appropriate timeframes. When this doesn’t occur, it is very important to understand why. If you can understand what is stopping a job from progressing then you have the opportunity to eliminate what caused the delay, and if possible stop it from occurring in the future.
The reasons for job progress delay could be anything, perhaps a part is difficult to find, maybe there has been a delivery error, or perhaps your inventory was incorrect and the part you thought you had was not actually in stock. The more transparency you have in your auto workshop operations, the more opportunities you will have to streamline your business and move towards future growth and success. In a nutshell, if you don’t know where your jobs are up to, you don’t really know your true financial situation.
Job progression sometimes stalls for no apparent reason. Think about this next story:
Billy had recently taken ownership of an auto workshop and even though he had been in the business for over ten years he had never owned a shop of his own. He was used to a certain amount of chaos in the work place, but taking charge of a new business that was lacking in systems was much more challenging than he thought it would be.
There was no information system, meaning he had no way of easily accessing the information about how each job was progressing. He was reaching the point where he actually dreaded the phone ringing simply because his shop was chaotic and he struggled to give information to customers. He didn’t like sounding incompetent and by the end of each day he was short tempered and very highly stressed.
Each mechanic had their own way of doing things, and the information was more often than not only available by asking them personally about the status of the jobs they were working on. Often the information only existed inside the head of the mechanic doing the work.
Billy estimated that he or his service manager interrupted each mechanic an average of six times per day with job status related questions, and he estimated each interruption would last for an average of ten minutes. He had five mechanics working at any given time. On an average day this meant that each mechanic was losing one hour per day just relaying information. This adds up to five hours of lost labour every single day and more than 30 hours per week!
After about six months of owning the business, Bill started to see a lot of holes in the business processes. He noticed many jobs were being started but not finished. He asked one of his mechanics why one particular job had been waiting for days. His mechanic said that he was still waiting on a part. This was a reasonable reply. However, Billy decided to check where the part was because it was unusual for such an order to take so long. It didn’t take him long to find it. It was sitting on a shelf at the back of the workshop and had been since the vehicle arrived.
This set his mind wondering, and he looked up all of the jobs that were taking a long time to complete. He found two more incomplete jobs that were supposedly waiting on parts. Those parts were also on the shelf.
This breakdown in communication within the auto workshop was blocking the ability of the business to maximise profits. His mechanics didn’t know when parts had come in and they hadn’t even checked to find out because they were so busy.
Would you say that your workshop loses a significant amount of time each week due to a breakdown in communication? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts below…