If you ask Brian Reintges, service manager and ASE master technician of Adams Autoworx, the secret to efficiency in his shop, he refers to the Japanese term Kaizen.
In business, kaizen refers to activities that continually improve all functions, involving all employees, from the CEO to the assembly line workers.
“It’s continuous change for the better,” Reintges says. “We continue to change our workflow processes so that we can be as efficient as possible.”In his 10 years at the Castro Valley, Calif.–based shop, this process has brought him to 126 percent technician efficiency, a big reason why he was nominated for a Ratchet+Wrench All-Star Award in the Shop Worker category. It’s worked so well that he was promoted to service manager, where he has five other technicians under him—with none having efficiency rates under 100 percent.
To keep the shop’s customers happy, he knew he had to come up with a solution for people to get their vehicles in and out of the shop quickly. Reintges shares three big tips on how he boosts his shop’s technician efficiency.
Bill Adams, president of Adams Autoworx and Renteges’ nominator, calls Reintges his go-to guy, and says that his methodical approach spurs the rest of his team.
“He really thinks systematically,” Reintges says. “He looks at the whole picture and then goes at it point by point.”
When it comes to diagnosing a car, Reintges compares it to a trip to the doctor’s office.
He starts each morning off with diagnosing and inspections, where the team figures out what’s going on throughout the day and makes a plan of attack based on vehicle priority. Then he does “surgery” in the afternoon and the vehicles are fixed through his specialized dispatch procedure.
Have a dispatch procedure:
At Adams Autoworx, Reintges says they’ve always been early adopters in technology, which streamlines the shop's processes. Technicians use laptops in their bays for scheduling processes and a dispatch procedure has been implemented and improved upon throughout the years.
Through this procedure, each technician can plan around and work five cars ahead of what they have coming, and know what their day and week will look like depending on the jobs they have coming.
This is all done electronically, and inspections and repairs are based on customer priority, determined through a software called Protractor.
“There’s certain vehicles that you know are going to be big-ticket items. Knowing those vehicles, you kind of attach yourself to those,” Reintges says.
This process also works to figure out everyone’s strengths. Over the years, he’s figured out who can do what the fastest, and prioritizes certain work to certain people.
For example, all work on Japanese vehicles like Hondas and Toyotas goes to one specific technician who specializes in that field, and can service those with the greatest efficiency.
Don’t waste a single step:
This all goes back to the concept of kaizen, where work processes need to be as efficient as possible. With 25 parking spots for an average of 15 cars per day, they need to make sure there is constant turnover.
“Our biggest point of organization is, we don’t let stuff sit on the racks,” Reintges says. “We get them in, put them up in the air, check them, and get them right out the door so that the office staff can sell work orders and order parts.”
To make this work, the team maximizes its steps so techs are not walking back and forth constantly. If Reintges knows his team is going to work on five different cars, he’ll label the key tag numbers and grab all of them so as not to go back and forth to the office constantly.