Every year, I hear someone talking about making their New Year’s resolution. Then, about July when asked about their resolution, they report that it only lasted a week or so before they stopped the resolution. These resolutions could be anything from exercising more to quitting smoking. Sometimes, it’s something simple like put the seat down when finished. Resolutions may come and go, but I do recommend that you set personal goals. No, this is not a self-help article. It’s more like a discussion to improve your future. I am talking about goals to improve your business if you’re a shop owner or if you’re a technician. Whichever group you belong to, you should look for ways you can improve the overall automotive repair industry.
Instead of resolutions, let’s set goals and base them on truly attainable outcomes. Not that resolutions cannot be attained, but I see them as the wish list of self-improvement and they are sometimes lofty; like the guy who wants a Hellcat but can only justify and afford a standard Challenger. It’s a good idea to set goals that can be assessed quarterly so you can evaluate the progress on a regular schedule. By doing this, you can tweak the plan and adjust where needed. I caution you not to change the goals, just change the plan to attain those goals.
Let’s talk about goals as a shop owner. It’s not unusual to look for ways to improve the net profit for the coming year over the last. To truly evaluate 2016 and find deficiencies will require looking at the numbers. One of the areas I would look at would be the customer returns for repeat repairs that were not solved originally to their satisfaction. The costs associated with these return repairs come directly off the bottom line and need to be addressed.
Another good area to look at is average ROI to determine cost to profit ratio. Then, you can look at your personnel’s efficiency. This should be looked at all the way from your seat as owner to the person who cleans up the shop in the evenings. I am not talking about eliminating people, but rather about what can be provided to each employee to help them improve their abilities. As a shop owner, it could be simple to just decrease the yearly raise for the employees in order to improve the bottom line. However, this can lead to a lot of employee turnover and workers that just don’t feel appreciated. In turn, those employees are not willing to go all-in to improve the overall business. Instead, look at providing more in the way of training. Oh yes, still provide a yearly raise, but also create an incentive for the employee to become better at what they do. “Why would I want to spend more when I am trying to improve the bottom line at the end of the year?”, you might ask. Training the employee not only benefits them in their abilities and confidence, it also increases their productivity, which will improve the business’ bottom line.
Let’s look at providing training to the technicians in your bay. In the ASE Return on Investment Study, it was determined that a certified technician had a 40% greater productivity over a non-certified technician, and 60% less comebacks. These two numbers alone should sway you to the value of a properly trained technician. If that’s not enough, then how about 38% higher parts and labor sales? So, as a shop owner, why would you not provide some training for your technicians? I also question why some shop owners won’t give time away from the bay during the day for training, but expect the technician to attain all their training at night after a full day in the bay. These types of mentalities must be evaluated and reassessed to determine the best plan of action. The technician needs to feel appreciated; otherwise, it’s just a job and there is always another one around the corner.
Training your employees will return your investment, sometimes two-fold or more. So, I encourage you, the shop owner, to search out training for your techs. A fully trained staff will go a long way towards attaining your goals in 2017.
“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.” Richard Branson
Technicians and Training
As technicians, we should also set goals for 2017. “Why?”, you may ask. Let me explain my theory on this. As today’s vehicles continue to change, we technicians must also change and improve our skill-set. I don’t believe any of us technicians like to work on cars daily for free. If you do, then this article is done for you, thanks for reading. If you don’t, we want to diagnosis the vehicle and get it repaired as quickly as possible, then on to the next one; especially if you’re working flat rate. If you’re not working flat rate, then you should still want to turn the bay as efficiently as possible.
Training is truly the only way for us to get an understanding of a particular system within the vehicle. I am a firm believer that no matter how good the training is, it only provides a direction and general understanding of the diagnostic process for that vehicle and system. Yes, we can have a vehicle with pattern failures but if not careful, we get tunnel vision and can go the wrong direction in solving the customer’s issue. That is the reason for good training. By participating in training courses provided by respected professionals within the industry, we can hone our skills and become proficient in doing our jobs. If you have a diagnostic skill set to offer and turn your bays faster because of training, then your value to the shop owner is elevated. Then, when shops look at their goals and how the year is progressing towards those goals, you become a valuable asset worth retaining and rewarding.
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” Benjamin Franklin
How It Works Together
There are a lot of variables when it comes to setting goals in a repair shop and the individual bays. When the employees are properly trained and rewarded for their abilities, then the end goals are much easier to attain year over year. Also, a properly trained staff provides a comforting atmosphere for the vehicle owner, thus leading to a successful repair business. Technician.Academy provides a resource for various training opportunities and all things automotive. Shop owners and technicians alike will find the site easy to navigate and full of relevant information for those in the automotive industry.
“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” Henry Ford
By: Richard Young