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Make better use of your time

June 09, 2010
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Here are three tips to improve efficiencies at your detail shop, courtesy of

Make room for solutions

Is there a "problem car" taking up room in the shop? Move it out! Tell your tech to stop working on it, move it outside and work on his or her other jobs. Then call the customer and let them know that the car will not be done today because it is turning out to be a bigger job than anticipated. If needed, get them loaner car, rental car, ride or whatever they require.

When the tech returns the next day, make the car his first job. Since yesterday he has had time to think about it, do some research and maybe discuss it with others. Also, he is now fresh and probably in a better mood. Odds are that the issue will now be resolved much sooner than it would have the day before.

Inspect every car

"We inspect every single car." At least, that's what many shop owners will tell you. But, what does that mean? Often it means that if there is time (and if we constantly remind the techs) it comes last in the initial process, it is what the tech decides to inspect, there are quite a few exceptions, etc. In other words..."No, we really do not inspect every car."

Instead, try this: Use a well-developed form every time. Perform the inspection first before the sold testing and services are performed. Do not give the tech the next RO until the inspection on the current car is fully completed.

Finally, eliminate all exceptions and excuses to keep that door shut. If your techs are not finding more legitimate detail work during the inspection on the average car coming through your shop, much of your potential income is being ignored every day.

Stop wasting time

A significant time waster in many shops is unnecessarily looking up information that has already been looked up in the past. Anytime that a certain type of spill or stain is treated on a vehicle for the first time, or a special new wax procedure is used, your techs should create a form that explains what was done to perform the job in a step-by-step process that can be repeated every time without the tech having to research the stain again.

This can be a big time saver on vehicles that you end up servicing for many years, and also for unusual stains where the information is harder than normal to find.

Tom and Deb Ham are the owners of Automotive Management Network, an online forum to exchange information about the management of all types of vehicle service facilities, independent auto repair shops, car and truck dealers, franchises, fleets, body shops and more. More information can be found at

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