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Establishing Information Areas on Your Shop Floor

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SHOP: Beckley's Automotive Services   LOCATION: Des Moines, Iowa OWNER: Steve Beckley   SIZE: 10,000 square feet  STAFF SIZE: 13 AVERAGE MONTHLY CAR COUNT: 382  ANNUAL REVENUE: $2.2 million 

What It Is:

Designated information areas, equipped with desktop computers or laptops, sprinkled in between each bay.

 

The Inspiration:

Steve Beckley, owner of Beckley's Automotive Services located in Des Moines, Iowa, has a deep, 10-bay shop. He wanted to come up with a way to have repair and diagnostic procedures ready at the click of a mouse for each of his technicians.

He also didn’t want his technicians to have to go out of their way to walk to a lone station to get such information, so he added an information area in between each bay. Another reason he refreshed the information areas was because as technology shifted, more of the shop’s management system data was in the cloud and his employees needed more speed to access it.

 

What It Does:

Each computer gives technicians access to the shop management system and facilitates the process of gathering service and diagnostic information. Each computer comes installed with the Mitchell 1 shop management system, ALLDATA, iATN, Direct Hit, Identifix and Mitchell 1 ProDemand.

“If my [technicians] want a service schedule or they want to know what type of procedure they need to do on a specific vehicle make or model, all this stuff is on the computers and in the cloud,” Beckley says.

 

How It’s Made:

Beckley purchased four desktop and two laptop computers and hired someone to wire them to the shop’s network. Some of the desktop computers are mounted on rolling carts that also do wheel alignments. Other computers are in cabinets or on work bench tops.

The laptops are also Bluetooth enabled.

Beckley chose to purchase Dell desktops and laptops because the company is reliable and he knows if he encounters any technical issues, he can easily get ahold of them. The main push for desktops and laptops was due to an update to the operating system the shop uses. Additionally, to ensure each of his technicians had equal access to a computer, he placed an information area between each bay.

 

The Cost:

The total cost of adding newer computers, installing software, labor and updating the shop’s network was about $26,000, according to Beckley.

 

The ROI:

“In this case, we can’t be in business without the computers,” Beckley says. “I worry about how many do I need.”

According to Beckley, shop morale was another driving factor for creating and updating these information areas. He strives to maintain morale and make sure information is equitable.

In theory, Beckley notes, these computers save about $500 per year for the system’s tenure. Having this system of information areas through the shop helps staff bill more hours of work during the day and makes his shop a more desirable place to work.

With this update in technology and connectivity, technicians and front desk staff save time because information on the computers can be accessed more quickly and technicians at the far end of the shop don’t have to waste time going to the other end to access a computer.

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