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I have a small shop with 2 Lifts and an Alignment Rack, and we have been delivering an average of 6 cars a day. Because of our number of bays, and lack of space, days that we see more cars are not financially productive.

I'm tying to get some inputs from you guys on how you organize your daily schedule.

How many cars, per Lift ?  

Do you limit the amount of Oil Changes you do in a day?

How many billable hours, per Lift?

Do you charge anything, for diagnosing a vehicle? 

 

Thank you in advance, for your replies! 

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My shop is dramatically different from yours as far as space/racks goes, so I don't have good answers for most of your questions.

I do know however that you should absolutely be charging for diagnostics. But don't call it diagnostics to your customer. Testing and inspection are the correct words, because that's what you're charging for. The tests and inspections may lead to a diagnosis, but that's simply a result of your expertise when looking at the results of the tests and inspections. 

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My shop is also different from yours but i would suggest when i get busy and majority of my clients come into our facility with out appointments, i inform them that there currently is a 30 minute wait or what ever. if i really have to i end up putting oil changes on the alignment rack when there isnt any alignments going on.

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My shop is similar to yours.  Although this Spring we figured out how to jam a 4th lift in a 1500 foot space with 3 doors.  It makes a huge difference when we are packed.  Do it if you can.

As far as charging for diagnostics.  Absolutely.  We sell time in this industry so you have to.  Just don't call it a diagnostic.  I have a bunch of canned "Inspections" that I charge a fixed amount for.  For example, a fan inspection is $100.  A pressure test is $100.  An alternator test is $50.  I try to separate them from time as much as possible.  It's just a flat fee for the test.  It works great.  For tough runnability or electrical I have a flat $100 charge and then we call the customer and to go time based billing on the customer's authorization.

For scheduling, here's what we do:  2 techs - 1 General Tech, 1 Lube Tech.  We use Mitchell1 so the scheduler has a column for each tech.  We schedule oil changes in 1 hour slots so we can do up to 9 oil changes per day.  Sometimes we do!  It doesn't take 1 hour but then we have time for rotations, show and tell with the customer, batteries, belts, wipers etc... and we can get it done for a waiting customer before the next oil change starts.  Then we have the Lube Tech service other minor work (brakes, alternators, belts, tires etc...) between oil changes so he basically can have 2 jobs going on simultaneously all day.  Master tech has 2 bays so he can swing back and forth between 2 jobs if he's waiting for parts or authorization.  (side note, we are growing so we see patches of full capacity but it isn't like this all the time...yet)

So, when this is working with an average tech and a lazy lube tech we've averaged 7.8 cars per day for stretches of 60 days or more.  Sometimes it doesn't even feel busy.  Now I have a much faster master tech so as we spool up this Summer I expect this to work even better.  In fact, at 7-8 cars per day my service writer becomes the bottle neck. (we've actually serviced 18 cars in a day using this method...not recommended, but it worked on the shop side, just not the office).  My service writer can't talk to customers fast enough or order parts fast enough to keep up.  So we end up short circuiting the oil change inspection process because he can't write and sell all the work we find while he's answering phones and ordering parts for the bigger jobs.

I just wanted to add that 6 cars/day is relative to how many hours per car you are selling.  We haven't been great in that respect so if you are 2.5-3 hrs per car you might be at max with 6-7 cars/day.  In that case you might need a bigger space before you pursue a full blown oil change marketing program.

As for me if done right I seems I could service up to 12 vehicles per day without short circuiting my sales process.  That being said, we are trying to improve our sales process right now so this might all change when we succeed.  In that case we will add staff or reduce car count to make it happen.  I'll cross that bridge when we get to it though.

Hope that helps.

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  • 2 weeks later...

My shop and process is very similar to jfuhrmad.  But I have a question, you say you have 2 techs (as do I) and that you schedule appointments for 1hr (I also do that but for state inspections as well.  We currently do about 170 inspections per month.). My techs seem to have the biggest issue with the appointments.  Say you have a walk in come in at 8 and you are doing their service and find upsells and you have an 8:30 appt and the 2 begin to overlap.  How do you handle that situation?  Simply put, how do you manage walkins and appointments for the same tech?  I have considered hiring another quick tech but am worried the demand may not always be there.

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34 minutes ago, nge said:

My shop and process is very similar to jfuhrmad.  But I have a question, you say you have 2 techs (as do I) and that you schedule appointments for 1hr (I also do that but for state inspections as well.  We currently do about 170 inspections per month.). My techs seem to have the biggest issue with the appointments.  Say you have a walk in come in at 8 and you are doing their service and find upsells and you have an 8:30 appt and the 2 begin to overlap.  How do you handle that situation?  Simply put, how do you manage walkins and appointments for the same tech?  I have considered hiring another quick tech but am worried the demand may not always be there.

I know if I hustle I can do an inspection, oil change, air filter, and tire rotation in 45 minutes.  So, that puts me at 8:45 to finish walk-in guy.  When appt guy shows up at 8:30 I walk out and grab their car and move it around back or into an empty bay.  Now appt guy thinks I started on time.  Then I finish walk-in guy and start appt guy at 8:15.  At this point I can do the inspection, oil change, air filter, and tire rotation in 45 minutes and have them done at 9 and I'm back on schedule.  Everyone is happy and gets done on time.

We are rarely off schedule and usually it's because of a late air filter delivery or something goes wrong with a rotation such as rusty centering ring or broken stud.  And, we always prep the customer with "it'll be about an hour, sometimes less" when they schedule.

The other thing that helps is always starting on the hour.  Try to avoid an 8:30 appt.  Instead do 8 or 9.  Then your techs can keep track of the schedule in their heads much easier.

Also, I find that we often have an oil change or 2 that are drop-offs so we can shift them around throughout the day.  That always helps too.

One question for you.  If you are doing 170 inspections per month why can't you afford another tech?  If my car count was that high I'd easily be able to afford the capacity of another lube tech and I would hire them asap.  Do state inspections not generate much in follow-up work?  We don't have them in Minnesota.

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24 minutes ago, jfuhrmad said:

I know if I hustle I can do an inspection, oil change, air filter, and tire rotation in 45 minutes.  So, that puts me at 8:45 to finish walk-in guy.  When appt guy shows up at 8:30 I walk out and grab their car and move it around back or into an empty bay.  Now appt guy thinks I started on time.  Then I finish walk-in guy and start appt guy at 8:15.  At this point I can do the inspection, oil change, air filter, and tire rotation in 45 minutes and have them done at 9 and I'm back on schedule.  Everyone is happy and gets done on time.

We are rarely off schedule and usually it's because of a late air filter delivery or something goes wrong with a rotation such as rusty centering ring or broken stud.  And, we always prep the customer with "it'll be about an hour, sometimes less" when they schedule.

The other thing that helps is always starting on the hour.  Try to avoid an 8:30 appt.  Instead do 8 or 9.  Then your techs can keep track of the schedule in their heads much easier.

Also, I find that we often have an oil change or 2 that are drop-offs so we can shift them around throughout the day.  That always helps too.

One question for you.  If you are doing 170 inspections per month why can't you afford another tech?  If my car count was that high I'd easily be able to afford the capacity of another lube tech and I would hire them asap.  Do state inspections not generate much in follow-up work?  We don't have them in Minnesota.

Awesome.  We handle some of the things in a similar approach but I like the idea about only setting appointments on the hour and may give that a shot.

To your question on inspection volume, we have 2 types of inspections: safety and OBD.  Safety is for vehicles 1995 and older or a vehicle less than 3 years old and we can charge $13.60 of which we profit $12.75.  To check everything the state requires us to it takes about 9-10min but the we have been advised that anything less than the 15 min state benchmark sets a "red flag."  For vehicles 1996 and up we charge $30 and we profit $23.75.  The process is the exact same expect for OBD we hook the state computer to the vehicle which takes maybe 1 minute tops, all the other checks are the same.

As for follow up work we don't get a lot.  A vehicle fails with a check engine light on and most people know that so they don't bring the car in unless the light is off but we do get some repairs from that.  Other than that it's smaller items : i.e. Wiper blades, bulbs, tires etc.  Insoections don't fail for brakes unless they are metal to metal but we still inform the customer of those things when the vehicle is there and we do get some oil changes as upsells as well just by noticing the service sticker.  The issue is that given our location to the DMV and the state requirement that your car be inspected before you can renew your tags, of those 175 very few become return customers but instead just come for the quick inspection so they can go right back and get their renewal.

As to hiring another tech my current car count is around 12-15 cars a day with 2 techs of which my quick tech is doing probably 75% of.  On busy days I am no doubt losing money because we often get walkins who can't wait with our estimated wait time (from the booked appointments we have and the walkins we are already managing) and even though we try to schedule them for the next day they are usually looking for service now and 99% of the time these are new customers who I know probably won't come back if we couldn't help them the first time they came in.  If my A tech is not busy but my quick tech is he helps out on the oil changes but when both are busy walkin customers leave.  

One thing I am looking to implement is some way to track exactly how many customers are leaving and why so see if I can justify a 3rd employee.  My concern is that there are still days and sometimes weeks where I have more employees than work and bringing on another hourly quick tech would just cost me more money so I want to measure to see if the good times and lost revenue from the busy days would hold that 3rd employee through the slow days.

 

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My daily goal is $1000/tech and $500/lube or GS tech. This doesn't include tires because that will mess up the profit numbers. The auto techs have no issues reaching goal, but the lube tech does. The lube tech is hourly and helps keep the shop clean and various other things.


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On 6/18/2017 at 0:23 PM, PherBag said:

My daily goal is $1000/tech and $500/lube or GS tech. This doesn't include tires because that will mess up the profit numbers. The auto techs have no issues reaching goal, but the lube tech does. The lube tech is hourly and helps keep the shop clean and various other things.


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$1000 in profit or gross sale?

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         0 comments
      It always amazes me when I hear about a technician who quits one repair shop to go work at another shop for less money. I know you have heard of this too, and you’ve probably asked yourself, “Can this be true? And Why?” The answer rests within the culture of the company. More specifically, the boss, manager, or a toxic work environment literally pushed the technician out the door.
      While money and benefits tend to attract people to a company, it won’t keep them there. When a technician begins to look over the fence for greener grass, that is usually a sign that something is wrong within the workplace. It also means that his or her heart is probably already gone. If the issue is not resolved, no amount of money will keep that technician for the long term. The heart is always the first to leave. The last thing that leaves is the technician’s toolbox.
      Shop owners: Focus more on employee retention than acquisition. This is not to say that you should not be constantly recruiting. You should. What it does means is that once you hire someone, your job isn’t over, that’s when it begins. Get to know your technicians. Build strong relationships. Have frequent one-on-ones. Engage in meaningful conversation. Find what truly motivates your technicians. You may be surprised that while money is a motivator, it’s usually not the prime motivator.
      One last thing; the cost of technician turnover can be financially devastating. It also affects shop morale. Do all you can to create a workplace where technicians feel they are respected, recognized, and know that their work contributes to the overall success of the company. This will lead to improved morale and team spirit. Remember, when you see a technician’s toolbox rolling out of the bay on its way to another shop, the heart was most likely gone long before that.
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