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5 Reasons for Low Shop Production


Joe Marconi

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Typically, when productivity suffers, the shop owner or manager directs their attention to the technicians. Are they doing all they can do to maintain high billable hours? Are they as efficient as they can be?  Is there time being wasted throughout the technician’s day? 

All these reasons factor into production problems, but before we point fingers at the technicians, let’s consider a few other factors.

  1. Are estimates being written properly? Are labor testing and inspections being billed out correctly? Are you charging enough for testing and inspecting, especially for highly specialized electrical, on-board computer issues, and other complex drivability work?
  2.  Is there a clear workflow process everyone follows that details every step from the write-up to vehicle delivery?
  3. Do you track comebacks, and is that affecting production?
  4.  Is the shop layout not conducive to high production? For example, is it unorganized, where shop tools, technical information, and equipment are not easily accessible to every technician?
  5.  Are you charging the correct labor rate and allowing for variables such as rust, vehicle age, and the fact that most labor guides are wrong? Also, is there effective communication between the tech and the service advisor to ensure that extra labor time is accounted for and billed to the customer?

These are a few of the top reasons for low productivity problems. There are others, but the main point is to look at the entire operation. Productivity is a team effort.  Blaming the techs or other staff members does not get to the root cause in most cases.

Maintaining adequate production levels is the responsibility of management to create the processes that will lead to high production while holding everyone accountable. 

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Great article, Joe.  The biggest problem I see in lack of productivity is improperly written estimates.  Transmission estimates are very difficult to write.  The main reason for that is a lot of transmission shop owners and managers try to quote a price with the transmission still in the car/truck.  That's a guessing game at best.  Before we give an estimate we do a Removal, Disassembly and Inspection (RDI) on every transmission we gave an estimate for.  The fee we charged for that was $477 which we would waive if the customer approved the estimate.  We prided our estimates as being written stone.  (see below)

With the rising prices do the inflation it's sometimes difficult for shop owners and/or managers to ask a PROFITABLE price.  It sometimes it just simply takes courage.  That's what it takes for sufficient productivity/profit.  Under-bidding a job is the fastest way to lose productivity, and eventually, profitability.

Most shops I know don't have a problem with tools, shop layout, or a productive workflow.  I know my shop didn't.  My crew started referring to me as "a tool junkie".  Most good shops are that way.  We did sometimes have one or 2 comebacks, but that tended to happen in waves.  A labor guide is just that, a guide, and many times just flat-out wrong.

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Great points!  The key thing is to dig deeper when issues with production arise. Experienced techs are efficient; they have control over that. However, writing the job correctly and other factors play into low production. As we have all learned, productivity and efficiency are not the same. 

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1.       Is EVERYTHING written up at the initial drop off, to limit waiting for additional approvals? Such as, are you adding a line for brake rotors for approval, just in case it’s more than just pads?

                "If it turns out to be THIS, can I get your approval now?"

2.       Is everything in writing for the technician, every time, versus a, “Hey, that car gets a …”

3.       Is the technician cleaning his bay versus the lot guy, whose not producing hours?

4.       Has the service advisor created a great relationship with the customer to get most things approved?

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17 hours ago, newport5 said:

1.       Is EVERYTHING written up at the initial drop off, to limit waiting for additional approvals? Such as, are you adding a line for brake rotors for approval, just in case it’s more than just pads?

                "If it turns out to be THIS, can I get your approval now?"

2.       Is everything in writing for the technician, every time, versus a, “Hey, that car gets a …”

3.       Is the technician cleaning his bay versus the lot guy, whose not producing hours?

4.       Has the service advisor created a great relationship with the customer to get most things approved?

You bring up a lot of great points.  I am sure we have all seen situations where the issues of low production can be traced back to a poor process that originates at the intial write up. 

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On 1/25/2023 at 5:01 AM, Joe Marconi said:

Great points!  The key thing is to dig deeper when issues with production arise. Experienced techs are efficient; they have control over that. However, writing the job correctly and other factors play into low production. As we have all learned, productivity and efficiency are not the same. 

 

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