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How to Maximize Shop Efficiency

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April 1, 2021—Keep the wrenches turning. That’s the goal of every repair shop. But how can shops maximize efficiency so they’re as productive as possible?

In a recent session at the 2021 VISION Hi-Tech Training and Expo, David Saline and Jim Saeli, longtime industry coaches for Drive, a top automotive consulting and training group, shared some small changes that shops can make that will boost their productivity. 

Pre-order Parts

Perhaps the conversation that drew the most curiosity and interest during the session was the idea of pre-ordering parts. Saline and Saeli said some of the most efficient shops they’ve worked with dabble in this. 

If they see a vehicle regularly and know the owner well, they’ll often order parts ahead of time. For example, while doing some regular scheduled maintenance, if they see certain brake parts may need to be replaced in the future, they’ll go ahead and order the parts. That way when they pitch the sale to the customer, the part is already in the shop and the vehicle can easily be serviced. There are no wait times or worries about part delays that hound a shop’s efficiency. 

Questions arose about returns, but Saeli said roughly 95 percent of the time, the part is used. When it doesn’t get used, they’ll simply return it, which shouldn’t be a hard process as long as the shop is organized, Saeli said. 

Centralized Dispatching

Saline and Saeli will often work with shops that have multiple service advisors or other employees dispatching work to technicians. While that may seem like the best way to boost efficiency, with the workload being spread to several different people, Saline and Saeli advised that a shop should have just one employee dispatching work. 

With just one employee working as the central hub for dispatching work to technicians, that allows them to fully understand exactly what each tech is working on at a given time. It also gives the institutional knowledge to one person so they know which techs are best suited for each job. If they know a certain tech isn’t great with brakes and might take twice as long to complete the job as another tech, they won’t give it to them. 

With multiple employees dispatching work, Saline and Saeli contend that there is prone to be more mixups, which slows down the workflow and efficiency. 

Mandatory Vehicle Inspections

One sentiment that Saline and Saeli often dispel for shops they work with is that there isn’t enough time to run an inspection. Many of their clients will just fulfill the work that the customer wants and will not take the time to run a full inspection of the vehicle. 

While this may take more time initially, it will decrease the likelihood of taking a car apart multiple times because new issues were found along the way. Like the idea of ordering parts, it also increases the likelihood of completing all the work a car needs in one visit, thus increasing efficiency. Every additional time a car needs to come back to the shop causes inefficiencies. 

The most efficient practice is to complete every job within one visit. Mandating vehicle inspections brings a shop closer to that goal, Saeli said. 

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