Start With Staff
Better efficiencies start with the right people.
Any time you’re going to talk about work process improvements or efficiencies, you need to start with human resources.
In fact, it’s probably more important now than it’s ever been. In my experience with helping out Mohawk College and pre-apprentice students, there are many who ask me for a job at a shop. And to be honest, there are some stores that I’m hesitant to recommend for a new person.
Too many shops just don’t have a good onboarding process for new hires, especially young people. They need to be acclimatized to what they’re getting into. You need to let them know what their job is going to be for the first three months, with a review at the end. Then, they need to be asked if they want more training; what do they need to be successful? In short, shops need to show interest in the progress of these young people.
Who are you partnering young people with? Sometimes, the best technician isn’t necessarily the best mentor. Partner them with a good tech who’s going to show them the correct processes. After all, if you don’t have the right training, how is a tech ever going to become efficient?
That’s where it starts, evaluating your own staff. There’s a spot for everybody. If someone isn’t good at one job, find out where they are good, where they are efficient. It will drive your efficiencies all the way through the shop.
Right now, there’s a big challenge in the industry about people using electronic measuring. We now have tolerances of 0.5 millimetres in cars. You can’t measure that mechanically.
A facility needs a process to drive the use of the equipment that they’ve spent lots of money on. You can’t do a mechanical measure with a tape measure or a tram bar and get within half a millimetre. You’re going to lose that tolerance, and nothing will fit. You’ll start going backwards, and your efficiencies will take a hit.
A lot of efficiencies are based on following standard operating procedures, trusting the equipment makers, and following their practices. Having the right culture in your shop can help ensure those practices are followed.
Third party review
Often, a staff assessment can find where individual members have their strengths. At that point you might have to move somebody. You can bring in a third party or a human resources professional to give you a good honest review.
Our industry has to do a better job of working with young people. We’re going to have to come up with a new type of technician who is willing to deal with technology on cars. We’re going to have to bring in people that are not familiar with car repairs. How can we get them into our system for things like electronic measuring or scan tools? It goes back to culture. You need to onboard these people properly in order to keep them.
Your shop’s efficiencies, the culture, setting standard operating procedures—and then, constantly reviewing the metrics—these are some simple things that every shop owner should review. When you do it right, guess what? It works out.