Alternative Work Schedules – Part 1

Chuck-WenzlerI often hear service managers lament that they need a larger building to run at peak efficiency. However, before a dealership breaks ground on a new or expanded service operations area, it must first pursue all avenues for increasing production capacity via managing technician productivity, dispatch techniques, shop structure and work schedules.

In many service departments, techs start at the same time every morning. The service drive may open at 7 a.m., but techs may not start work until 7:30 or 8. It is very difficult for service advisors to write enough repair orders first thing in the morning to assign each tech a job as soon as he arrives. Techs rarely actually start working at their designated start time, so many hours of lost production result.

Staggering start times is one way to overcome this. Rather than having all techs work a standard 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. shift with an hour off for lunch, the service director could stagger shifts to accommodate workflow. One group of techs could work from 7:30 to 4:30, another from 8 to 5, a third from 8:30 to 5:30.

However, this is not the same as increasing overall shop capacity. Many dealerships need to make room for additional techs to increase the flat rate hour-capacity of their service departments. They may not have available stalls to accommodate additional techs, but brick and mortar are expensive, and not all dealerships have enough land to expand.

The options I present in this article to increase shop capacity address three key areas. First, they extend hours of operation in the service department, providing the dealership employs enough techs to fill the schedule. Second, some of my examples provide techs with additional days off, which younger employees particularly tend to value. Third, the service department could add techs, increase productive capacity and expand hours of operation without a physical expansion.

4/10s With A Saturday Rotation

I have found techs and advisors generally respond well to this configuration. Techs work four 10-hour days one week, and four 10-hour days plus an eight-hour Saturday the next week. Thus, they have three days off one week and two the next. Assuming the service department is open eight hours on Saturdays, techs will average 44 hours per week.
This structure also allows for staggered starts or a late-starting shift (e.g., 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.). A service director could further enhance this schedule by rotating days off, which would give the techs a four-day weekend once every 10 weeks. And, as in the example that follows, a dealership that once could accommodate only eight techs now has room for 10.

Week One
             
Technician

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

1

Off

On

On

On

On

On

Off

2

On

Off

On

On

On

On

Off

3

On

On

Off

On

On

On

Off

4

On

On

On

Off

On

On

Off

5

On

On

On

On

Off

On

Off

6

Off

On

On

On

On

Off

Off

7

On

Off

On

On

On

Off

Off

8

On

On

Off

On

On

Off

Off

9

On

On

On

Off

On

Off

Off

10

On

On

On

On

Off

Off

Off

Week Two

             

Technician

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

1

On

Off

On

On

On

Off

Off

2

On

On

Off

On

On

Off

Off

3

On

On

On

Off

On

Off

Off

4

On

On

On

On

Off

Off

Off

5

Off

On

On

On

On

Off

Off

6

On

Off

On

On

On

On

Off

7

On

On

Off

On

On

On

Off

8

On

On

On

Off

On

On

Off

9

On

On

On

O

Off

On

Off

10

Off

On

On

On

Off

On

Off

 

4/10s with Sat./Sun. Rotation

In many dealerships, “Sunday” is a dirty word. But let’s face it, our aftermarket competitors (Pep Boys, NTB, Goodyear, Wal-Mart, etc.) all stay open on Saturdays AND Sundays and are very successful doing so. At many, Sunday is their busiest day, second only to Saturday.

It’s convenient for dealership service customers to bring in their vehicles on weekends, but only if we treat Saturdays and Sundays as “real” days, meaning the department is open a full day with all normal services offered.

With this schedule, techs rotate four four-day weeks with four five-day weeks. Saturdays and Sundays are staffed, but techs never have fewer than two days off per week. In fact, during the four-day-week stretch, they will get four days in a row off at one point. In the example shown below, Tech 1 will have Friday, Saturday and Sunday off, then also get Monday off to start the week as he rotates to the No. 2 slot in the schedule.

Just as with a schedule based on four-10 hour shifts with Saturday rotation, pairing of techs and advisors should strongly be considered. Caution must be taken not to leave customer vehicles disabled during an extended (three to four days) time-off period. This problem can be addressed by partnering techs of equal skill levels, and having only one of them off work at a time. If a repair cannot be completed, then the partner resumes the job as he comes on shift.

Communication between the tech, advisor and dispatcher must be seamless. In the below scenario, not only was the number of work days expanded but also the tech count was increased to 12 from eight without a building expansion.

Week One

             

Technician

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

1

On

On

On

On

Off

Off

Off

2

Off

On

On

On

On

Off

Off

3

Off

Off

On

On

On

On

On

4

On

Off

Off

On

On

On

On

5

On

On

Off

Off

On

On

On

6

On

On

On

Off

Off

On

On

7

On

On

On

On

Off

Off

Off

8

Off

On

On

On

On

Off

Off

9

Off

Off

On

On

On

On

On

10

On

Off

Off

On

On

On

On

11

On

On

Off

Off

On

On

On

12

On

On

On

Off

Off

On

On

Written by Chuck Wenzler

This is Part 1 in a two-part article. Be sure to check out Part 2.

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