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International Automotive Technicians Network
Don't be a hero
Posted to Shop Management Forum on 10/7/2013 50 Replies

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 a shop.

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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