Shop View: Superior Service Center of Apple Valley
- Shop Name: Superior Service Center of Apple Valley
- Owner(s): Dan Sjolseth; Tony Hoffman
- Location (city, state): Apple Valley, Minnesota
- Staff Size: 10 (including owners)
- Shop Size (in square feet): 10,000 square feet
- Number of bays: 11
- Average Monthly Car Count: 449
- Annual Revenue ($): 2.2 million
When Ratchet+Wrench last spoke to Dan Sjolseth, he had a single location in Eagan, Minnesota, and by his own definition, was “committed to making his shop as efficient and productive as possible, which means organization and cleanliness are paramount.”
Ten years later, not only is he still focused on running efficient and productive operations, he now does so over two shops—his original in Eagan and his second location in Apple Valley.
Sjolseth purchased the Apple Valley shop in 2013, and in recent years has installed Tony Hoffman, a longtime employee, to oversee operations at the shops. The goal is for Hoffman to succeed Sjolseth some time this decade.
“Tony started with me back when I just had a body shop, and in 2009, he started running the body shop. It's evolved over the years that now he oversees the body shop and not only that, but he oversees both mechanical shops, and that's been over the last probably three years,” says Sjolseth.
Superior Service Center of Apple Valley has a spacious floor plan that's home to 11 bays and over 10,000 square feet. Once purchased, Sjolsheth customized the shop to fit the needs of his business.
“The main part of the building has eight bays that face each other with glass doors on each side. And then one big, long bay that's a deep alignment rack and fits some bigger vehicles on and has a heavier hoist finish. We used to have a tire warehouse off the back of the building and decided it would be best to eliminate the number of tires we store and add some bays. So, we added two bays,” says Hoffman.
At each bay, technicians are supplied with the tools necessary for completing their repair jobs.
“The technicians have computers on their boxes, so they have access to all the information they need right at their boxes. The shop is pretty spacious and we have ample equipment. They've got AC machines where they need to be and oil guns right by their box,” says Hoffman.
Sjolseth and Hoffman train with Shop Fix Academy. Two things they’ve picked up that are a staple inside the shop are a color-coded clipboard system and a magnetic board, each designed to help people within the shop self-govern their repair processes.
“The color-coded clipboards help keep track of cars and what they're there for,” says Hoffman.
The magnetic board is set up similar to a kanban board (think: backlog, to do, doing, done), to show where a vehicle is in the pipeline and who is responsible for its next actions.
“Every time a car switches department or who's working on it, there's a magnet on a board that you move. It's a lot easier for technicians and everybody else to just quickly grab a magnet and move it. And so essentially, you have a board that tells you the story of what's going on in the shop.”
Hoffman says while the system has caught on and made the shop more efficient and productive, it wasn’t popular initially.
“We fought that process, myself included, for quite some time. It taught us a lesson that if your people don't believe in it, myself included, it won't take. You have to get everybody involved,” says Hoffman, concluding that the magnet system does indeed work.