Hayes: Inspecting Vehicles with Pit Crew Speed & Efficiency

June 28, 2024
In his first column for Ratchet+Wrench, Todd Hayes discusses how shop owners can use a team approach to inspect vehicles faster.

Pit stops in NASCAR are completed in under 10 seconds; they change four tires, refuel, make adjustments, and send the car back onto the track. Speed is their priority. Similarly, in Formula One, pit stops are even quicker, taking less than two seconds to change four tires. Coming from Daytona, Florida, where we know about racing, this record-setting efficiency in motorsports is what inspired me to rethink my business practices.

When I launched my shop in 1986, I had a 3,300-square-foot facility. It filled up quickly, leading me to seek ways to improve efficiency. Inspired by these pit stops, I wondered how I could implement similar processes. This led to a focus on speed and efficiency, aiming to maximize productivity without compromising quality. Here’s how.


Inspect the Entire Vehicle

When a car comes into our shop, we perform a comprehensive inspection like a pit crew. This includes checking wiper blades, turn signals, license plate bulbs, and the horn. We inspect under the hood, checking the battery and air filter. Since many issues require the car to be lifted, we perform a thorough inspection, including checking the suspension, brakes, and tires. This comprehensive approach helps us to identify all potential issues beyond the customer’s primary concern. I developed this method from a simple realization: if my mother's car came in for a cooling system issue, I wouldn't just fix the immediate problem. I'd make sure the entire car was safe and functioning properly for her. When you start seeing customers as if they were your own family members, you'll perform inspections with greater care and quality. This commitment to thoroughness and customer safety has been a cornerstone of our business and can become the same for yours too.


Use the Rack Attack

Our Rack Attack system was designed to be like a NASCAR pit stop. When a car arrives, our team springs into action. Within 15 minutes, we perform a detailed inspection, document issues with digital photos and videos, and present our findings to the customer with pictures, video, and an explanation. This speed and transparency builds customer trust and helps us maintain high customer satisfaction with one of the best close rates in the industry.

This starts with technicians inspecting vehicles comprehensively and efficiently. This training is crucial because traditionally, technicians haven't been taught to conduct thorough inspections. By teaching them the right way, we ensure that every car is checked meticulously, identifying any issues before they become serious problems.

Next to our speed rack, we have a speed cart. A speed cart contains all the necessary tools in one designated place. The speed cart includes torque wrenches, air guns, various sockets, and tools to quickly remove engine covers, wheels, and splash guards. The speed cart and speed rack combination allows for a thorough under-hood inspection, mid-rise inspection, and full-rise inspection with the wheels on the ground. This setup ensures that we can bring any issues to the customer's attention quickly and efficiently. The speed carts also contain gloves, pressurizer tools for the cooling system, and everything needed for a fast diagnosis and inspection. This setup allows us to diagnose and inspect vehicles rapidly and accurately, ensuring high-quality service for our customers.

Using the Rack Attack system can help set your shop apart in the industry by demonstrating that speed and thoroughness can coexist in automotive service. This is significant in our industry because re-racking a car is often time-consuming. With the speed rack, you just pull the car in, position it on the rubber bumpers, and it's ready to go up. This process is very safe and incredibly fast. The more your techs do these quick, thorough inspections, the better they become at it, and the happier your customers will become when they get vehicle updates faster than they expected.


Pit Crew Mentality

Running a Rack Attack system is an all-hands-on-deck job. Everyone on your team gets involved, including the managers and shop leaders, when necessary. There's no ivory tower. All my service advisors and managers are trained on Rack Attack, as are the technicians. We operate as a cohesive team, with no individual play. Our goal is to move the ball down the field together. Everyone is compensated based on gross profit, and all staff members go through the same Rack Attack training, including service advisors, general service staff, and technicians. Once technicians understand the power and efficiency of Rack Attack, they become highly proficient.

This way of inspecting vehicles benefits customers who prefer to wait on their vehicles and get a diagnosis fast. The vehicle is inspected in 15 minutes. The customer is then walked out to their car, where we show them any safety concerns. Afterward, they are taken to the presentation station to go over the details. After explaining the issues, we present the estimate. My goal was to have all four wheels back on the ground and the customer ready to leave, either with a loaner car or confident in leaving their car with us, within 15 minutes. This approach shifts the focus away from price concerns and towards showcasing our professionalism and dedication to service quality. This not only drives up our close ratio but also establishes trust and confidence with every interaction. It’s something that has helped our shops enjoy higher car counts and more satisfied customers, and it can help your shop do the same

About the Author

Todd Hayes

Todd Hayes, the esteemed Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Adams Automotive "World Class Service," is a prominent figure in the automotive industry. His career, spanning over three decades, showcases him as an entrepreneur, business leader, and celebrated media personality, known for his dedication, innovation, and commitment to excellence.

Beginning in 1986 with Mobile Car Care, Todd's visionary spirit and strategic acumen led to rapid expansion across Texas. His partnership with Retail & Restaurant Growth Capital, L.P. (RRGC) and Cardinal Investment Co. marked a strategic evolution. In 2002, he founded RepairOne, turning it into a multi-million-dollar auto repair service center renowned for customer satisfaction and profitability, thanks to his insights and commitment.

In the media, Todd hosted the "Auto Show Special" on national radio in Houston, Texas, earning the Wheel Award from the Detroit Press Club Foundation. His roles include a newspaper columnist for the Houston Chronicle, President of the Texas Auto Writers Association, and creator of Test Drive TV for CBS and "Test Drive" for United Airlines, leaving a significant mark in media.

As COO of Adams Automotive, Todd's leadership is marked by revenue growth and commitment to superior service. His career reflects the power of innovation, dedication, and the pursuit of excellence, making him a revered figure in the automotive world.

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