The Inspiration: Bill Hill was sitting at a traffic light with his significant other and marketing manager, Leigh Anne Best, brainstorming ways to let his entire staff know at a moment’s notice where the shop stood in terms of getting cars checked out. Best suggested a color-coding system. Hill thought that was a great idea and looked up and decided that a traffic light would be ideal. “It works well. It’s kitschy,” he says.
What it Does: The full-size traffic light hangs outside of the service manager’s door and alerts every member of the staff where they stand in terms of getting cars checked out. The team meets every morning for a meeting and the light starts out on green. Around midday, the service manager either keeps it the same if they are on track, turns it to yellow if they are slightly behind, or red if they really need to pick up the pace. Before the light was installed, someone on staff would have to alert the technicians if they were falling behind. With the traffic light, everyone on staff knows where the shop stands.
How it’s Made: Hill purchased a used traffic light at Perram Electric in Wadsworth, Ohio. The shop’s shuttle driver, John Sobolewski, rewired the light so that it would light up a certain color depending on which button the service manager pushed. It was then mounted where everyone can see it.
The Cost: The traffic light was $130 and the rewiring and set-up process took about two weeks.
The ROI: The instant feedback has been tremendous for Hill. He can see his employees’ reaction when the light changes from green to yellow. Before the light was installed, the shop would have days where 5–6 jobs might be leftover from the day. Now, it’s only the cars that Mighty Auto Pro couldn’t get parts in for. The staff is now able to leave at 5:30 p.m.—closing time—instead of staying longer to finish up jobs. By being aware of where they are, the shop is able to get cars out quicker and has more time available for those few extra jobs a week. Those few extra jobs could be the difference between breaking even and making money, according to Hill.
“Technicians feel they are more responsible for their time. They’re not surprised by anything coming at them last minute. We are all working toward a common goal of getting out at a certain time,” Hill says.