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Dispatching work?


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Angelo, could you elaborate on "dispatches" a bit? I am assuming your question is, "Who brings the jobs from the service writer to the tech, and how is it decided who actually gets which job?" Please correct me if I'm wrong.

 

If so, I am curious myself on how other shops handle this, and what is the best practice.

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We average 25 jobs a day, we have two advisors, one assistant manager, a receptionist who works half days and myself (manager).

 

In the workshop we have a foreman who is also a dispatcher, 8 Tech's and two Apprentices.

 

The problem we have is dispatching isn't efficient enough.

 

In the morning the foreman dispatches the work and most of the time it's ok. The rest of the day he leaves the jobs on each techs running board (dispatch desk area) then the Tech's are supposed to get their next jobs. This process doesn't work 100% because the tech's don't go to the dispatch bench to see what other jobs they have left, as they are still working on their first or second car which could have extra work sold.

 

It could also be too late before they start the next car or to late for the foreman to notice and dispatch the job to another Tech.

 

When tech's do go and get their next job, It could be a 5pm job, but it would of been more efficient to get a 3 pm job from another techs section. If the foreman was at the dispatch desk he would have dispatched correctly.

 

Also during the day the foreman is helping techs and road testing, he isn't always at the dispatch desk to shuffle work around or observe which tech is nearly finished and give next important job.

 

What usually goes wrong is wrong jobs get started during the day, which leaves big jobs or more important jobs unattended and they don't get finished that day.

 

Also another thing is we are finding it hard to hold technicians accountable during the day when they are taking long on their jobs, because the foreman is unaware how long they are taking so he isn't asking the question to the techs.

 

I believe the Techs don't want to get the last jobs because they want to finish on time or don't like the type of jobs that are on the dispatch desk.

 

I truly believe we can get more done if the foreman was on top of it and spending more time on the dispatch area. I feel like he needs to coach the techs, so they don't rely on him most of the time and that way he will have more time at the dispatch area.

 

Solutions that crossed my mind were the advisors could dispatch the work, the only issue I feel is that they won't have time and location from the reception and workshop is too far.

 

Also at the moment I can't afford a dispatcher full time.

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We do on average 26 to 32 cars per day. We have two advisors, a manager and a part time receptionist. We also have a foreman. The service advisors, who write up the work, are directly responsible to manage the customer thru the workflow process, whether it is a wait or a drop off. The advisors will coordinate the work with the manager and other advisors and then line up the work to be dispatched. Every work order is also discussed with the foreman and eventually the tech. Techs do not pick their own work and are not involved in how the work gets distributed.

 

We control the work by constant communication between the service advisors, manager, receptionist and foreman. We also update the Work in Progress field in our Mitchell System so that everyone is on the same page.

 

Communication is key.

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I agree with Joe about technicians not being able to pick their work. Your foreman would probably be best to dispatch work. Have him communicate with the service advisors and technicians and dispatch accordingly. Also consider sending your technicians on the test drives instead of the foreman. The foreman should pick who should go on the test drive, and whoever does go on the test drive needs to be the one fixing the car... That's kind of the whole point of going on a test drive, so you can hear the noise/feel the vibration/whatever that the customer wants fixed. Doesn't do any good if the foreman goes on the test drive, then gives the job to someone who hasn't heard/felt the complaint.

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We do on average 26 to 32 cars per day. We have two advisors, a manager and a part time receptionist. We also have a foreman. The service advisors, who write up the work, are directly responsible to manage the customer thru the workflow process, whether it is a wait or a drop off. The advisors will coordinate the work with the manager and other advisors and then line up the work to be dispatched. Every work order is also discussed with the foreman and eventually the tech. Techs do not pick their own work and are not involved in how the work gets distributed.

 

We control the work by constant communication between the service advisors, manager, receptionist and foreman. We also update the Work in Progress field in our Mitchell System so that everyone is on the same page.

 

Communication is key.

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The dispatch area is adjacent to the customer service reception area. We use wall racks to organize the work. The service advisor will code each work order in order of urgency, type of job, wait customer, long term, comeback, etc.

 

No tech takes his/her own work. The tech is not part of the process. The service advisor will, at times, choose the tech he feels is better suited for a particular job, but the service advisors and foreman coordinate the work, organize the workflow and review all work in progress.

 

We also give the techs the expected time of completion, so the tech has a target to shoot for.

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Does your Advisors deal with the same customers they dealt with in the morning?

Yes, we like for an advisor to bring the customer thru the entire process, from write-up to car delivery. If for some reason, the advisor will not be there when the customer picks the car up, the advisor will schedule time on the phone and perform the car delivery on the phone. The advisor will then gather all the paper work and update the other advisors.

 

You want a seamless continuous work flow, with the advisor taking care of the customer throughout the entire experience.

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      Most shop owners would agree that the independent auto repair industry has been too cheap for too long regarding its pricing and labor rates. However, can we keep raising our labor rates and prices until we achieve the profit we desire and need? Is it that simple?
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