Posted to Shop Management Forum on 10/7/2013
When I was a tech I wanted to fix everything ... bring me
the car that nobody else can fix, I welcomed the challenge.
When I switched to a s/w I told everybody "yes, we can fix
that." I would bring in anything, I loved the car that
nobody else could fix. As years went by, I changed. I came
to believe in things like gross profit, comebacks, net
profit, and billable hours. I came to realize that being the
hero that fixed that car... no matter what... was satisfying
to my ego, but damaging to my paycheck. The same is true for
As a shop, there are a few things that are finite, things
that you have a limited amount of and have to maximize. The
two biggest are time and space.
You have approximately 40 hours per week per technician to
sell, assuming you believe in a 40 hour work week.
You have x number of lifts in your shop, whatever that
number is, it doesn't change easily.
One of the things a manager should do is maximize that time
and space. Put your technicians in the best possible
position to succeed.
That difficult driveability job where a tech has to spend 12
hours scoping sensors, road testing, tracing wires etc. to
find out that the ground wire is broken can be a huge drag
on the shop. Even if you do charge for every minute your
tech is working on it, you've tied up a rack and a
technician for a day and a half in order to have a gross
profit of approximate 60% of your labor rate (I'm assuming
that the guy who is doing this is your highest paid tech)
In that same 12 hours, your "a" tech could do several simple
diagnosis, a timing belt or two, 14 brake jobs, rebuilt 2
rear axles, maybe fix 3 a/c systems, or whatever else. That
same 12 hours could result in 16-20 hours billed out, plus
an equal dollar amount of parts sold. Generating MUCH more
revenue and profit for the shop.
Now, I'm not saying that we should never do anything
difficult. There are many reasons to take on a tough job,
often we don't know what we're getting into until we're past
the point of no return.
We need to maintain a mix when we schedule work. We can't
overload our A techs with the difficult jobs to satisfy our
egos. We can't plug up our shops with headaches and
nightmares while the shop down the street does the
easy/profitable stuff and ships the tough stuff to us. I
have no problem putting the headache on the back burner in
order to knock out several profitable jobs.
One final thought for the shop owner who says "I'll just
work on that one myself, then it won't affect my technicians
or shops productivity..." This is only true if you work on
that car at your house, during non-business hours.
Otherwise, it is taking up space that can be used to make
money, and it's taking you away from other jobs that you
should be doing, whatever they are.
Again, there are good reasons to take on these challenges,
but let's do it with our eyes wide open and recognize that
they can be costing us money.
Nathan from Colorado
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