As an auto repair shop owner, you know a streamlined, efficient process is the best way to succeed. Standard operating procedures (SOPs) are key to meeting this goal. SOPs help standardize processes, reduce overhead, and improve service. All the while, you establish a more positive, predictable outcome for customers. Let’s look at why SOPs are so important in auto repair shops.
Reducing Costs & Overhead with SOPs
Each auto repair SOP reduces costs and overhead. You will streamline your processes, thus saving time and money. SOPs also make it easier to train new employees, since they won’t have to learn everything from scratch. Staff just need to follow the established protocols. This can also help reduce mistakes as everyone follows the same process each time.
Providing Better Service with SOPs
Using SOPs in your auto repair shop helps you provide better customer service. Having known protocols makes sure that all repairs are done efficiently. When customers know their cars are being fixed by a pro, it eases their minds. Also, if a repair job goes wrong, clear SOPs help resolve issues quickly.
Establishing Predictability with SOPs
Finally, SOPs establish predictability. SOPs clear up expectations for both employees and customers. This creates a sense of order and consistency. Thus, everyone feels more at ease.
Using SOPs critically reduces costs and overhead. This provides better service and predictability for both employees and customers alike!
These systems are a must in today’s market! Clear, concise rules make training new employees much easier. All the while, you still provide excellent customer service. In order to stay ahead, invest in comprehensive SOPs for your business!
You Net Results Will Help You Start Your Auto Repair SOP Journey
Contact You Net Results today. We’ll guide you in building critical SOPs! Book a free call. Brian Gillis and team will help build your foundation. Plug into a vast network of auto repair shops who work together to strengthen the industry! Let’s make February the best month of your business life!
Auto repair shop management doesn’t have to be a mystery. Long time automotive business coach Gary Gunn shares his decades of automotive industry experience running multiple shops with you! When you take Gary’s and head coach Brian Gillis’ advice to heart, you will put your business systems in place and see results in no time!
Defining Auto Repair Shop Management – How Is It Different From Leadership?
Gary opens the clip, polling the group on the difference between auto repair shop management and leadership.
Pam believes that managing is staying on top of details and keeping staff on top of their tasks. Fred believes Leaders hand down goals and processes to Managers. Then the Managers use the SOPs to guide the people.
Joe defines the Leadership role as one who sets the pace and tone for the shop’s business. Management then manipulates the Technicians and Service Advisors to execute the Leader’s vision. Joe clarifies that the staff roles are similar to that of military ranks. As the owner and leader, he recognizes the strengths of each employee in their positions.
Jerry continues by agreeing with all the previous points. He then adds that Auto Repair Shop Management means overseeing the systems and processes, so Mechanics and Service Writers can do their thing.
Gary also reminds us that people do not want to be managed. They can’t! That method of management always reduces people to robots. Effective managers should manage the systems, so the SOPs themselves can manage the people.
Learn More – Get Your FREE Strategy Session
Does your independent automotive shop lack a clear vision? Maybe your business plan has stalled out. You need an experienced automotive industry coach to help you. Then why not schedule a FREE business strategy session with Brian? You’ve got nothing to lose, so sign up today!
Brian Gillis recently joined host Hunt Demarest and fellow guest Tim Shaffer of Level 6 Consulting to discuss the state of the automotive industry and what their shops are doing to adapt in these strange times.
Hunt jumped right into the main topic as he addresses challenges auto repair shops are facing today. As we close out 2021, issues such as parts shortages, technician shortages, and scheduling difficulties dominate shop owners’ minds.
Although many issues are present, Hunt pointed out that most of the shops his accounting business deals with are doing great numbers. Brian and Tim agreed the same was true for their clients, despite the precarious state of the late-pandemic world.
Automotive Industry Scheduling Issues
First, Hunt addressed the scheduling quandary many repair shops were facing. While needing to schedule two to three weeks ahead may sound like a good thing, it can be hard to keep up with. He pitched to Brian for advice.
Brian pointed out how in this situation, it is inevitable that you may have to turn away some customers. Missing out on quick turnaround jobs such as maintenance inspections leaves easy money on the table. How could we address that problem?
The first area we should address in that situation is staffing. Do we have enough people? We need to take a look at our operations and make sure we even have the space to add on more techs to handle the extra work.
Hunt asked Tim if prioritizing specific customers or jobs ever comes up when work is very busy. Tim confirmed it was true. His shop must find a way to cater to its highest profit jobs and most loyal customers. Being honest with everyone else about delays and making concessions where they can is key. Hunt pointed out that consumers are getting used to delays in all industries, including auto repair, due to supply chain issues. Thus, communicating about delays should be easier.
Is Our Automotive Industry Shop Properly Staffed?
Hunt pitched to the issue of staff shortfalls and shortcomings to Tim. Is this busy time still a good one to examine letting go a problem technician? In his experience, adjusting workflow to one tech to one bay has increased profits, despite putting more work on each worker.
In Brian’s experience with our clients, hiring comes down to two R’s: Retention and Recruiting. We must have systems in place to both hire young, inexperienced workers and pair them up with older technicians who can help them reach the goals owners set for them. Brian pointed out that many unskilled positions may currently pay more per hour than a starting technician. However, we can provide incentives for long term growth which we can use to sell them on these positions. It is hard to argue with hard numbers that mechanics can reach at regular intervals.
Brian mentioned that we must always keep recruiting. Since good techs are the hardest staff to come by, we have to keep our focus on how to reach out to the staff we need. A skilled A-Tech is likely not looking for work, but your service advisor likely knows who the best technicians working in the area are. If you play your cards right, you may be able to lure them in to work for you. Get creative. Be aggressive. Don’t be afraid to go into another shop for a small job and size up their workers.
Training Apprentice Technicians
A listener asked the automotive industry roundtable to discuss the challenge of hiring apprentice technicians when existing staff seems too maxed out help to train them. Tim responded that it takes a team effort from everyone in the shop. Incentives for A Techs who put in extra hours to train apprentices are also a must.
Brian pointed out that the process is a tradeoff. A Techs may lose some work time when they are training apprentices, but the young workers can perform less skill intensive tasks to balance that out. Paying the tech who is doing the training a bonus for the extra effort helps on the other side. Brian also mentioned that many shops are just one technician loss away from going out of business. Therefore, we need to be sensitive to what our techs need, salary and incentive wise. One on one mentoring sessions and continued training are key to keep that connection going. Keep an eye on what other shops in your area are doing, and adjust your incentives in order to keep your best technicians.
Automotive Industry Labor Rate Increases
A live viewer asked if this a good time to increase labor rates. Hunt emphatically says yes! Selling on parts and labor is an antiquated method, and package deals are more common instead. The host made the point that inflation and the increased costs of many other goods and services justify an increase in our hourly rates. Brian made the point that we can’t eat the rising costs of parts. We need to instead incrementally increase what we charge for labor monthly to cover that, as well as to reward our teams fairly. Ask yourself what a dealership can do that you can’t. Why are you charging lower rates than them, then?
Looking Ahead to 2022 in the Automotive Industry
Tim feels that everything comes back to relationships. We want to be the the auto shop multiple generations of families return to. This can’t be done unless we communicate to our customers that we truly care.
Brian again emphasized the importance of staff retention for navigating the future. Regular team meetings, meals together, and retreats can build relationships amongst our staff. They will then be less likely to go elsewhere. Also, loaner cars are a must offer, especially when we have a backlog of jobs. We may be overflowing with work, but we must not become complacent. Consistent phone scripts, key to key friendliness, and great service will pay off when we have to hunt for jobs. Word gets around, whether it’s a good or bad review.
Finally, Hunt asked for one last tip for owners trying to navigate the automotive industry in 2022. Tim said that while business is up, we need to build our cash reserves to prepare for an inevitable downturn. Brian emphasized that we must a positive company culture. Retention is so important, and fostering an environment your staff never wants to leave will pay dividends in so many areas. Keep recruiting the right people, and assure them every day that they chose wisely by joining your team.
Have you ever played the game “Telephone”? You start by lining up a group. Then, you whisper a sentence into the first person’s ear. They then whisper the message to the next person. The game continues until the message gets to the final person in line, who announces out loud what sentence they heard. It is often much different from the original sentence. Quite the exercise in communication!
At You Net Results, we know this game shows what happens when messages, systems, and processes are undocumented. Just like in the game of “Telephone,” something can get lost in the telling. When you don’t write down instructions, client comments, or repair orders, this is inevitable.
In auto repair businesses, it happens like this:
The Customer tells the Service Advisor something. Time is short. The Service Advisor doesn’t write it down, but they repeat it verbally to the Technician. The Technician may also skip documenting it, so they present the Service Advisor with new information. The Service Advisor then reports to the Customer via phone. More back and forth happens, and then the Customer picks up their vehicle. Later, the Service Advisor is surprised to read the Customer’s one-star review. Why? Communication was not clear. They lost something in the telling.
How can you avoid losing something in the telling?
Do you see how simply repeating verbal information can lose accuracy? It is obvious how the customer felt wronged. How can your team reduce miscommunication? How can they improve clarity?
The answer? Use transparent systems and processes to document all communication. Enter repair issues through DVI reports, notes in your CRM, text messages, recorded phone calls, and other exchanges. When you do, you will reduce your chance of poor reviews.
Perfect your shop’s communication chain!
At You Net Results, we dedicate hours of training to communication. Our coaching sessions help prevent mistakes and lost details. To learn more, contact us for a free consultation. Brian Gillis will discuss your business strategies and ways to improve revenue and company culture.