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Become more efficient today

September 30, 2009
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Here are three suggestions for improving operations at your detail shop, courtesy of

Don’t waste time waiting for estimates

Is there a lot of time wasted waiting for estimates in your shop? Or are estimates for additional items not performed because they take so long to complete?

Part of the solution may be as simple as reassigning what your staff does. Do you have certain employees who are better at estimating and others who are better at dealing with people?

Some shops have one person do most of the estimating and another take care of most of the customer contact. This can be far more efficient than asking each employee to be a jack-of-all-trades.

Schedule everything

You come up with a good marketing promotion, but you fail to place it on a marketing schedule. You decide to restripe your parking lot. It looks great! But you do not place it on a maintenance schedule so it is done again every spring.

Schedules are not only for service appointments. The smoothest operations schedule (and assign) virtually every chore and operation they want to recur.

Lower the stress level and prevent wasted management efforts from dealing with the same tasks over and over again. Schedules are one easy way to do just that.

Keep track of your equipment

A common problem in many shops is keeping track of the special tools that are purchased. Did we ever buy that tool? Where do we keep it? Who knows the answers?

Try the following: When you buy a special tool, enter it into your parts inventory including the part number, description, and location in your shop. Now the techs can easily see if you have it by checking the part number (from the service information) in your management system.

Technicians can also see where it is kept; which makes it both easy to find and easy to put away when done.

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