Some people spend their Fridays daydreaming of happy hours, or weekend travel. Not Patty Smothers.
On Friday afternoons, Smothers, the service manager at O’Brien Ford outside Louisville, Ky., tackles an important work task: calculating the efficiency of her technicians.
“I try to run the numbers before I leave,” she notes, “just to see what happened that week.
“I pull up the numbers and … try to figure out if they had a problem with a vehicle they didn’t get flagged all the way, or a comeback, which would lead to poor efficiencies.”
Smothers, who has worked in the industry for roughly four decades, knows that measuring the efficiency and productivity of her technicians can help her department maximize its potential. After all, as the old adage states, you can’t improve what you don’t measure.
Smothers, whose department has a CSI score of 95, explains how to best utilize technician efficiency and productivity numbers to make improvements in a service department.
As told to Kelly Beaton
Have meetings as the technicians arrive at work. I do them on Mondays. I get their flat rate and their clock hours off our Reynolds and Reynolds DMS. If there are numbers that need attention, that are lower than normal, I go over them. If someone’s on an hourly pay plan instead of flat rate, I go over with them how their numbers really matter, and that I expect to see some kind of improvement each month over the previous month.
Remember to be encouraging. If someone’s doing spot-on great, I’ll say, “Great job; you had 111 percent efficiency last week—keep up the good work.” And the ones that aren’t doing great, I’ll see if there’s something we can do to improve. You try to figure out if something has gone wrong—like, lately, I know there have been a lot of parts issues, with parts being on national backorder. Or, have they gotten their training up to date? And I tell them, “If there’s something I can do to help, let me know.”
Realize that some technicians are more productive than others. I have some that are over 100 percent and some that are right at the 70 percent range. If I see one of my top producers slipping a bit I try to figure out what’s wrong. I always look to see are you here eight hours per day? Are you clocking out too long for lunch? I had a couple last week that slipped a little bit, and I checked and found out they were taking an hour-and-20-minute lunch. You know, you’ve got to be here the proper amount of time in order to produce the money.
Don’t put technicians down if their numbers are down—give them ways to improve. If they’ve had bad numbers, they usually have an idea. We go over some of the jobs and ways that the job could’ve possibly been handled differently. I’m really on them to check our Ford Oasis software for the symptom; that could save a lot of time, to see if there’s any technical service bulletins, or service messages, for the issue that the customer has.
You’ve got to figure out their clock-rate hours, versus their flat-rate hours. Flat-rate hours divided by clock equals efficiency. Or, a lot of places do it from “time available,” but if a technician has been on vacation for two days, you don’t want to punish them for that. I think the most important thing is to just keep the technicians aware that they’re being tracked, and that they need to know their efficiency numbers so they don’t slip—because they need to account for the time they’re here and be as productive as they can.