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Tracking Technician Time on Diagnostic / Repair


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How do you keep track of technician time on a repair / diagnostic to make sure that he is consistently within acceptable time frame? Is there a formal way that you do it or a software that you use? I am looking for a way to track technician time on a repair or diagnostic to make sure they stay within acceptable range.

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I worked at a place where they required me to clock in/out on every job. As in a time card, old school. Seemed like a waste of time so I didn't last too long there. I keep track of technician time the easy way. Every week I see how many hours each tech billed and compare it to their clock hours. It doesn't make sense to micromanage their time as long as overall productivity is near 100%.

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We also manage it on a weekly basis. We have the capability of them clocking in and out of their jobs on their i-pads (Auto-Vitals) that each have. i don't get to involved in the day to day operation and I haven't forced the manager to make them start using it. I don't want to micromanage but I also don't like it when we don't use tools that we have. I think it would be good data to review weather or not we are efficient on various jobs and whether we are charging properly or inefficient at certain jobs. All my techs are hourly and we pay profit sharing on efficiency as a team so they work well together and help each other out when needed so that they are efficient as a team. The manager watches it closely as as he and the other service writer also receives profit sharing for tech efficiency. It works well, I have great techs and they will take care of efficiency issues with techs. We just released a tech because he was not a good fit with everyone. They somewhat self police themselves which works well.

 

They recently had a case where a general service tech was good at what he did but simply couldn't come to work on time. I told the manager he needs to go. It put the other techs in a bind because we scheduled the bulk of our work and they would have to pick up the slack until he decided to show up. Everybody liked him and he was a great guy, but it really came down to a lack of respect for others as well as a lack of discipline. But I just offered them advise and let them decide how to handle it. I suggested to them just to prove a point that they could change his hours so he could come in a little later in the day and I bet that he wouldn't be on time. They tried that and he still didn't come in on time. They decided that they would terminate him since they could not depend on him.

 

Back to the original question, I have also gave $10 guys stop watches to time themselves.

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Marksas, would you be willing to share your profit sharing on efficiency as a team? All of my techs are also paid hourly versus the traditional flat rate pay. When you say that you have not forced your techs to use the time clock function in Auto Vitals, is it safe to assume that your technicians are not punching in and out of jobs? How do you like Auto Vitals? Would you say it is worth the investment? Are you using the Digital Inspections and the Smart Flow? If you are using the Digital Inspections, did it really speed up the process versus paper RO's? When your techs have a lot of comments, doesn't it take longer to peck out the comments on the tablet versus just writing it down or typing on an actual keyboard? I am really interested in Auto Vitals and would like to get some feedback from actual shops that are using it.

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On another note I would not even dream of asking my techs to clock in and out of jobs if they were paid hourly. I believe a flat rate tech needs to be held accountable for his efficiency. The only way to do so is to track per job. If you are tracking weekly you are missing out on a lot. Reason being is because if you are looking at data on weekly basis instead of per job you can't tell whether or not it was the tech's fault or if it was a car count problem (shop problem). You can have a highly efficient technician but find out that there are just not enough cars for him to work on. You would be hard pressed to know that otherwise.

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Mspec, can you elaborate on why you would not have your hourly techs clock in and out of jobs? In a perfect world, wouldn't you want you hourly techs to be held to the same standard as your flat rate techs, assuming they are of the same skill level? I agree that tracking per job is the best way to track efficiency as well.

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Marksas, would you be willing to share your profit sharing on efficiency as a team? All of my techs are also paid hourly versus the traditional flat rate pay. When you say that you have not forced your techs to use the time clock function in Auto Vitals, is it safe to assume that your technicians are not punching in and out of jobs? How do you like Auto Vitals? Would you say it is worth the investment? Are you using the Digital Inspections and the Smart Flow? If you are using the Digital Inspections, did it really speed up the process versus paper RO's? When your techs have a lot of comments, doesn't it take longer to peck out the comments on the tablet versus just writing it down or typing on an actual keyboard? I am really interested in Auto Vitals and would like to get some feedback from actual shops that are using it.

Just as an FYI we don't call anything bonus as everything has to be driven off of profit, hence the term "profit sharing". Since our efficiency was low going into this arrangement we have just gradually increased it over time. Each year we bump the minimum up by about 5%. It is based upon the overall efficiency of the team.

anything under 80% - no profit sharing. We want them to win and I love paying profit sharing. They hit some level of sharing each and every month which is what I want to drive. My techs have told me they like the hourly arrangement because they know we are going to get paid for about 45hrs each week. Granted they get overtime and we budget that into our profit projections and overall labor margins.

The profit sharing is as follows and this is for a biweekly pay period.

80% - $100

85% - $150

90% - $250

100% - $400

What this does is allow a tech to budget and smooth out their income. They know that they are going to make a consistent check each pay-period and then have the opportunity to make a little more. But if we have empty bays or a slow week they know they are not going to suffer. It also forces the estimator and manager to make sure they are doing everything they can to keep the schedule full. Do we have slow times? yes, not often but a lot of times the techs will get together and there is always one that would not mind going home early to take care of projects or leave a little early on Friday. They manage it. There are times when they realize that if they send a tech home early that it may boost them to the next profit sharing range. So while a guy may give up an hour or two, that everyone will receive a larger profit sharing check and then it's much better for the team. They do a great job of managing this themselves and the shop manager makes sure they know where they are as a team as the manager and service writer also receive the profit sharing, so they help drive it.

 

As for Autovitals, I love it and it's worth what we pay for it. See my post regarding the use of "Whiteboards" on another thread. We are using digital inspections and smartflow. I would not want to go back to paper. We don't force techs to punch in and out of jobs in autovitals. That will change in 2016 as I will start driving it through my shop manager. We have to know where we stand on each job as I feel on some of these diagnostic problems we are not billing correctly but we don't have solid evidence. I also think there are times where we are just not as efficient on some jobs and we need to find out which jobs and why. It comes down to accountability on the techs part, and the manager has to sell them on the why we want to do it as well as the benefits for them and the organization.

 

I hope this is helpful. It may not be for everyone but it works for us. That's the great thing about these forums as it allows us the opportunity to learn from one another.

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Mspec, can you elaborate on why you would not have your hourly techs clock in and out of jobs? In a perfect world, wouldn't you want you hourly techs to be held to the same standard as your flat rate techs, assuming they are of the same skill level? I agree that tracking per job is the best way to track efficiency as well.

 

 

I dont have any hourly techs. What I mean is there is a motivation factor in implementing this. I would say 9/10 people do not like to clock in and out. They feel it is a wasted time/action as well as another way for their employers to micro manage them. Hourly employees are not looking to help you make them any faster than they already are since there is no incentive for them to work any harder.

 

If communicated properly a tech on incentive or flat rate can live with clocking in and out of jobs. If you are looking to help them be more efficient and pose it as a team effort in finding where we can be more efficient, they win by earning more money opposed to just being scrutinized even more.

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  • 2 weeks later...

We have them clock in/out each job, it's easy, the clock is by the assignment rack so they come get the next job, clock out on done job/in on next job, grab keys and bring the next one in. The clock begins, isn't that what we do at a restaurant, --- whens my food coming??? is my car done???

Yes, we have had some that do not get why they never have to punched in before at other shops, I tell them, no one has ever rewarded you for working hard before, that's why. :rolleyes:

We flag the time and at end of the day & they get a bonus if they do, #1- a good job (ie no comebacks/cars need to be fixed first & foremost) #2 - excelled by turning 35 hours or more,(we need to make a profit). 45 hours or more get a bigger bump in flat rate pay that is meaningful. It's all about results = rewards, as said by Roger Penske, what do I know.

It's simple, fix the car, get paid. Why do so many people have an issue with this??? There are only these 2 metrics we need to measure.

 

Dave

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Mspec, unfortunately I have to agree with you. In my perfect world all technicians, hourly or flat rate, would be able to look at the bigger picture and understand that the more efficiently they work and help the shop make money that they would be rewarded as well.

 

Dave, do you ever have technicians that have to stop during the middle of their job to help other techncians? If so, how do you take that into account with their total time? Do they clock in and out of the job? This seems to happen at our shop at times and have not found a great way to account for this without having the tech clock in and out of jobs. To me, it doesn't seem like a big deal but for some technicians clocking in and out of jobs seems to be the bane of their existence.

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

         5 comments
      I recently spoke with a friend of mine who owns a large general repair shop in the Midwest. His father founded the business in 1975. He was telling me that although he’s busy, he’s also very frustrated. When I probed him more about his frustrations, he said that it’s hard to find qualified technicians. My friend employs four technicians and is looking to hire two more. I then asked him, “How long does a technician last working for you.” He looked puzzled and replied, “I never really thought about that, but I can tell that except for one tech, most technicians don’t last working for me longer than a few years.”
      Judging from personal experience as a shop owner and from what I know about the auto repair industry, I can tell you that other than a few exceptions, the turnover rate for technicians in our industry is too high. This makes me think, do we have a technician shortage or a retention problem? Have we done the best we can over the decades to provide great pay plans, benefits packages, great work environments, and the right culture to ensure that the techs we have stay with us?
      Finding and hiring qualified automotive technicians is not a new phenomenon. This problem has been around for as long as I can remember. While we do need to attract people to our industry and provide the necessary training and mentorship, we also need to focus on retention. Having a revolving door and needing to hire techs every few years or so costs your company money. Big money! And that revolving door may be a sign of an even bigger issue: poor leadership, and poor employee management skills.
      Here’s one more thing to consider, for the most part, technicians don’t leave one job to start a new career, they leave one shop as a technician to become a technician at another shop. The reasons why they leave can be debated, but there is one fact that we cannot deny, people don’t quit the company they work for, they usually leave because of the boss or manager they work for.
      Put yourselves in the shoes of your employees. Do you have a workplace that communicates, “We appreciate you and want you to stay!”
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