Alternative Work Schedules – Part 2

Chuck-WenzlerThis is Part 2 in a two-part article. If you missed Part 1 you can read it here: Part 1.

3/13s With A 4-Week Rotation

The concept of working personnel on schedules of three 13-hour workdays has become quite popular in many industries, such as healthcare. This approach would let a service department stay open for six days and evenings, and it is possible to cycle through the work schedule every eight weeks, making it easy to administer.

The eight-week cycle is best utilized with complete sets of personnel, meaning lateral support groups, “super groups” and teams. These complete sets of techs operate within their own individual shops and are either working or off-duty as a group.

This does mean there would be only one day of rest between work stints every eighth week, but a seven-day break would come every eighth week. Also, given the long work days, service leaders should expect techs to become fatigued, and production to suffer, toward the middle of the third day – especially in hot months if the facility’s air conditioning is not great.

Note that in the chart below, Techs 1 through 5 have seven days off following their fourth work week, and that Sunday hours can easily be incorporated into this schedule.

In a 3/13 work schedule, pairings of techs with advisors should be mandatory. Each group should have a “mirrored” partner that includes an advisor. In order to ensure effective communication between the groups regarding carryover work, they should meet on the evening before or the morning following shift changes. As with the four-10-hour-day schedule, all efforts should be made to avoid having vehicles disabled during an extended (three to seven days) time-off period. Pairing techs with equal skill levels can help avoid this situation.

Four Week Schedule I

Technician

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

1

On

On

On

Off

Off

Off

Off

2

On

On

On

Off

Off

Off

Off

3

On

On

On

Off

Off

Off

Off

4

On

On

On

Off

Off

Off

Off

5

On

On

On

Off

Off

Off

Off

6

Off

Off

Off

On

On

On

Off

7

Off

Off

Off

On

On

On

Off

8

Off

Off

Off

On

On

On

Off

9

Off

Off

Off

On

On

On

Off

10

Off

Off

Off

On

On

On

Off

Four Week Schedule II

Technician

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

1

Off

Off

Off

On

On

On

Off

2

Off

Off

Off

On

On

On

Off

3

Off

Off

Off

On

On

On

Off

4

Off

Off

Off

On

On

On

Off

5

Off

Off

Off

On

On

On

Off

6

On

On

On

Off

Off

Off

Off

7

On

On

On

Off

Off

Off

Off

8

On

On

On

Off

Off

Off

Off

9

On

On

On

Off

Off

Off

Off

10

On

On

On

Off

Off

Off

Off

 

Adding A Second Shift

Generally, second shifts are added to accommodate internal and fleet work, freeing up the day shift to handle regular customers’ needs. Several types of work schedules can accommodate a second shift, although attracting employees willing to take them on can be difficult. There are several different work schedules that can accommodate this shift.  Attracting employees to this type of scheduling can be difficult. Two of the alternatives a service department might consider are:

Internal work only second/night shift: Should capacity be your primary issue, you could benefit by moving all or most of the internal work to a second shift. Expenses are minimized because no cashier is required, the parts department can pre-pull many necessary parts before the shift starts, and no customer relations personnel are needed. Plus, a shop foreman, group leader or lead tech can function as a working manager, eliminating the need for a service manager during the shift.

Generally, the night shift will pre-deliver new cars and inspect used cars one night, and prepare estimates and perform approved additional work the next night. Additional techs can be brought in for the first shift, adding to shop capacity.
Another tweak is to perform limited customer pay work until a certain time, like midnight. However, personnel expenses (advisor and/or cashier) will rise.

Full-service second shift: A full-service second shift can make better use of the facilities and help the service department make greater market penetration. Due to additional personnel needed to operate the second shift effectively (advisors, cashiers, parts staff, etc.), expenses increase considerably. However, it is very important that both shifts be equal in skill level.

At times, work will be incomplete after both the first and second shifts. So, policies and processes must be implemented to make each shift responsible for its own carryover work. This is why a full-service second shift works best with .75+ stalls per tech. For example, you would have 20 bays for 15 techs on the day shift and eight techs on the night shift, so you wouldn’t have too many bays tied up for the first shift.

All diagnostic operations must be completed early in the evening, so that authorizations can be obtained for any additional work needed. It is not considered good practice to call customers at midnight for work authorizations, for obvious reasons.
Service leaders often hesitate to try the schedules I’ve described, worrying about finding enough techs, having room for tools or having techs quit over displeasure with the schedule. These are valid concerns, but having both implemented and worked under these structures, I can confidently say that the changes can be successful as long as your communication is open and complete. So, before expanding your service operations, explore scheduling options.

Written by Chuck Wenzler

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