September 21, 2020
Once that you have your techs properly trained, working together toward the same goals, and aligned with your shop’s processes and procedures, you can move to the next level. Let’s take a look at what it takes to improve your techs’ productivity, and how to keep them happy as you work toward the achievement of this goal.
Productivity: it’s a lot more than just efficiency
While many people use the terms “efficiency” and “productivity” interchangeably, they are really two different things. As a shop owner, you want to reach high levels of both. Here’s the difference between them:
Efficiency: Efficiency is the measure of how long it takes a tech to finish a given job, compared to the number of hours of labor allowed for it (and billed to the customer). If a tech takes four hours to do a four-hour job, that tech has achieved a 100% efficiency rating. If the tech gets it done in two hours, he or she has achieved 200% efficiency. The higher the number of billable hours that a tech produces in a standard workday, the higher the efficiency of that tech.
Productivity: Productivity is the measure of how much of a given tech’s workday is spent doing work that the shop can charge customers for. The ultimate goal for maximum productivity during the workday is 100%, which means that the tech spent eight hours doing billable work during an eight-hour day (practically speaking, 100% is not usually possible).
Causes of poor productivity
Anything that keeps your techs from doing a full day’s work is negatively impacting your productivity. There can. be many causes of poor productivity in your shop, including:
Increasing productivity in your shop
Very often, you can greatly improve your shop’s productivity by taking a closer look at the processes you use to get the work done, and then tweaking them to eliminate every possible time-wasting or mistake-causing action. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Happy techs are profitable techs
Happiness is easy to see, but difficult to define. In an auto repair shop, the happiness of your techs is a very good thing. It means that you are doing many things right, including running a very profitable shop! If you aren’t there yet, let’s review some of the aspects that can turn average techs into happy ones.
What makes your techs happy?
Assuming that you have hired a staff of techs who are proficient and interested in doing a good job, there are several aspects of being a tech that can make the job enjoyable and generate happiness:
What makes your techs unhappy?
It’s no secret that there are plenty of unhappy techs out there in auto repair land. These unhappy techs go to work every day with a negative outlook, and the quality of their work can’t help but reflect that reality. And what makes them so unhappy?
What can you do to create and keep happy techs?
There are many strategies you can put into place that will improve your shop’s morale in general, and your techs’ happiness level on an individual basis. The more of these that you can bring into your shop, the better your techs will respond. They will work harder, work smarter, and pull together for your shop’s benefit – and its profitability!
Make sure that your techs understand the value of their pay and benefits: Your pay plan should provide adequate basic financial security, along with incentives to be as productive as possible. Remember to pay your techs what they are worth, or they won’t be with you very long. Benefits should include decent health insurance, workers comp, and a reasonable amount of paid time off that increases over time. Institute a “use it or lose it” policy to induce them to use all of their vacation time each year. You will benefit from the stress-relieving benefits it brings – to them and to your shop!
Set performance goals for each tech and recognize them for reaching or exceeding those goals: Recognize individual achievements, but don’t set your techs against each other in a ruthless competition. Make sure that the goals you set are achievable, or resentment and frustration will result.
Provide your techs with opportunities to make more money: Inspect every vehicle to identify other needed repairs or preventive maintenance that is due. Give your techs bonuses for identifying (and selling if appropriate) this additional needed work. Also reward high efficiency with bonuses, because you are making more money, too!
Invest in training opportunities to improve your techs’ skills: Keeping their abilities up to date keeps your shop on the cutting edge, and fully able to work on today’s more complex vehicles. Your techs of all skill levels will appreciate your investment in them.
Build a positive culture in your shop: Plan recreational activities outside work hours that show you care. Include techs’ family members in some of these events. This will help to build relationships that will enhance cooperation and efficiency back at the shop. Buy lunch for your staff once every week or two to show you appreciate them. Recognize work anniversaries for all techs, every year. Provide flex time with staggered hours that will also let you extend your shop hours to better serve your customers. Above all, always do what you say you are going to do, to maintain your credibility as the team leader.
Motivate your lower-level techs by occasionally giving them some more advanced and interesting work to do: Give them an opportunity to stretch, with a higher-skilled tech nearby in case they need help. This will keep them involved and looking forward to moving up through future training opportunities.
Mentor new techs to transition them into your shop’s culture: Pair your new techs with experienced techs who are willing and able to be strong mentors.
Ask employees what they need to make them happier: Many requests will be for little things that you can provide without any financial or operational downsides.
Productive and happy techs mean more success for your shop
When you have reached the point where your techs are both productive and happy, your shop should be in a very good place. This means that you are maximizing the amount of work that your techs can do, and also that they are feeling great about doing it. This is the sweet spot – now you just have to keep it going and reap all the benefits!