Auto Repair Programs Fuel Missions As Vital As NASA’s
Automotive specialists walk the earth acutely aware of a fundamental truth: things fall apart. In contrast, the average motorist remains blissfully unaware of the complexity of things needed to stay operating and safe. In short, much of this state depends on auto repair programs within shop management software.
Most people commonly adhere to what I call “the assumption of good function” even when watching momentous NASA space missions. Problems can arise, sure, but smart people prevent issues, right?
They have systems for this. We call them shop management systems.
For NASA, the fact that quality control systems are in place is quite true.
For automotive manufacturers, this also applies. Yet, how would you grade the quality control systems in automotive repair and, specifically, in your shop?
Define processes within auto repair programs
I routinely ask shop owners if they have a documented quality control process beyond their auto shop’s management software. More than 90% of the time, they answer “No, we do not.” The shop has good people, good revenue and good reviews, yet no formal quality control process.
Oftentimes, auto repair shop workflow has no documentation at all except in auto repair programs. Given this, you quickly learn that similar types of quality control issues arise broadly throughout the industry. One could argue that systemic problems routinely plague auto repair shops.
When speaking on quality control, think of the process prior to our clients driving their vehicles down the road. As we consult on that process, I like to ask shops to picture a successful visit. I ask, “How do you define success?”
Years ago, my coach, Bob Greenwood, asked me this same question. He helped me learn to define and communicate success for clients. “Our professional responsibility,” Bob said, “is to ensure that our client’s vehicles are safe, reliable and efficient.”
Then he added this poignant promise: “We will not let you down.” Achieving that promise requires process and the full participation of every staff member with support from auto repair programs.
Full participation. NASA level.
For example, I recently learned that the NASA team working on the James Webb telescope had pre-identified 344 single-point failures. Had those issues occurred, it could have ended the 11-and-a-half year project within the first two weeks of the mission. Knowing those issues, the Webb team worked to prevent them.
Every time a major NASA mission ends successfully, I look forward to the reactions of the teams of people involved. You know the moment.
The confirmation comes in and mission control erupts into cheers and applause. The tension felt moments before washes away in a sea of high fives, hugs and happy tears. What a moving scene!
The sheer lack of “assumption of good function” strikes many of us as we watch. Moments before the celebration, the mission control team remains hyper-focused in their workstations.
They wear headsets, hawkishly vigilant for any indicator of a problem, known or unknown. They stand rigidly prepared to engage solutions and the possibility of intense action to save the mission.
The celebration that comes afterward praises teamwork and the team working a system. For NASA, this is all amplified further when a mission has human beings aboard.
Every mission in our auto repair shop involves a human life aboard.
Yet, seldom do we cheer when a vehicle drives down the road.
Conventionally, our success is only realized, if noticed at all, weeks later when we simply do not hear from a client that visited us.
Our missions = NASA missions
This shouldn’t surprise us, despite the enormous complexity of the many vehicles we service. The process of an automotive visit, on the surface, seems routine.
However, I will compare vehicle repair as routine today as when SpaceX or NASA puts a satellite into orbit. These vehicles or their destination, ultimately has little to do with the processes our staff could use to ensure success.
In terms of managing systems, we enjoy parity with NASA, F1 race teams, and medical institutions. We lack nothing that these other high-performance professionals have access to. We have all the resources we need.
Our trouble comes with our desire.
- Our desire to educate clients regarding the value we provide as a partner in their family’s transportation goals.
- Our desire to explain the importance of mitigating potential problems to our staff.
- Our desire to seek continuity of purpose in our element as repair professionals.
I hope shop owners and managers embrace auto repair systems and processes since it pays off in time and profit. Rather than hoping all goes well to impress our clients, let’s highlight the complexity of the vehicles we service.
For an “assumption of good function,” let your client see not just your unique ability to fix a vehicle. Sell them on your team’s unwavering adherence to a system that you do indeed have in place to protect them.
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