Track the Number of Steps Invested in Each Oil Change

Do you keep track of the steps an auto repair technician takes to do something simple like an oil change? Do you organize your parts and supplies to place them with purpose in areas for efficiency?

If not, your trail between the front counter, the parts and fluids area and the vehicle itself could look like this:

Outline of auto repair sho with a mess of red lines going back and forth between several sites

Count your steps

Taking a deep dive into your procedures via your shop management software fires up an important strategy to grow a stronger business. What if you could find three or four minutes per procedure? Think about how many brake jobs or oil changes you do in a week.

In short, multiply the time savings by the number of jobs you do and you’ll soon see that you can add time back into your day. We sell time and when we waste it, we never get it back.

We recorded a few shows on running lean. This Town Hall Academy podcast really shows how this strategy will work in your shop.

We covered:

  • Oil change – Deliver consistent results for every customer. Keep supplies together to lessen the time and steps wasted.
  • Start with your most repetitive processes. Sketch out the overview of your shop and create a spaghetti diagram (try using the Sketchup App) to trace every step of the process you do. Next, factor in the number of steps and how much time it takes. What is your critical path?
  • Every job breaks down into pre, during, and post. Clean as you go.
  • What the leadership of an auto repair business needs to invest in.
  • Time = money – This nice, easy formula works.
  • Use your data – How many jobs do you do? How many hours does it take? How much stock do you have? What delivers more profit?
  • Get your team involved – Everyone must join the process for it to work. They all win by feeling less stress looking for tools, scanners, etc. and it holds everyone accountable. Once team members see how to make things easier and less stressful, they will get excited and want to help improve things even more.

Data related to an oil change and more

Where do you get the data to understand the impact of each repair and transaction? Above all, you need a shop management system that fills in those blanks.

Good analytics take the guesswork out of who did what when. For example, Duration of Service serves as a universal metric applicable to any size, number of staff members or service mix. It measures the amount of time it takes to get a car through the shop then calculates time per invoice down to the minute.

As a pure measure of time, Duration of Service perfects traditional profitability metrics. It helps you understand the rate of your profits and, ultimately, improve that rate to make more money.

Shop-Ware tracks these steps:

  • Check-in – RO started; technician yet to clock on
  • Wrenching – Technician clocks on
  • Admin – Work paused (seeking parts, customer approval, etc.)
  • Finalizing – Tech clocks job as complete; work order remains open
  • Parked – Job closed; vehicle not picked up yet

Take it one step further

Six Sigma Lean relies on a statistical process to identify and eliminate what causes defects in service processes. It uses simple tools to detect, analyze and isolate flaws to keep improving products, processes, and services.

Its approach follows the principles of lean manufacturing to achieve a high-quality product or service at reduced costs by eliminating problems.

Simply put, you can review every procedure you have in your shop. Along the way, you involve your team and discover all the steps, tools, people, systems, you need to perform tasks.

In our podcast, we focused on the oil change and the opportunity to deeply review what we do for each one.

  • Where are the tools?

  • Where are the filters and tools you need?

  • How many steps do we take to do one of the most repetitive tasks we have in our shop?

This should be a top-five critical strategy in your business. It involves everything, up to and including growing sales, building leaders, planning for your future, and setting up financial controls.

Listen to the podcast with Kristi Hudson of Troy Auto Care and Karim Morsli of Winkler Automotive Service. Only then can you learn and appreciate the value and power of making your procedures ‘lean.’ I also recommend pulling the team together to listen or watch this episode.

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