Developing Your Best Special-Order Parts Process - Part 3 This is Part 3 in a three-part article. View Part 1 | View Part 2 A means to emphasize the importance of insuring the quick turnaround of special-order parts would be to incorporate various incentives or penalties within the pay plans of service advisors and fixed operation managers. The considerations can take many different forms. Service advisor compensation additions for positive performance can include but are not limited to the following considerations. Motivational spiffs can be developed to reward the advisor by measuring the percentage of times that special-order parts are installed within a given time frame and paying a dollar amount for levels (example: 100% = $$$ / 90% = $$$). A specific dollar amount can be added to advisor pay for each transaction that is completed within a set time frame (example: 5 days = $$$ / 10 days = $$$). A more permanent method would be to incorporate advisor performance on special-order parts turnaround into various components of their pay plan by adding or decreasing compensation levels on production or CSI. Excellent performance would dictate an increase in the amount paid per flat rate hour, the amount paid as a percent of labor dollars written by the advisor, or in the CSI bonus level. To be effective only measurable data on special-order performance should be used. Other consideration could be given to charging the service advisor all or a portion of the price of the part after a predetermined number of days. The cost of the part could be charged to him or the full retail amount. Incorporating poor performance into the pay plan would dictate a decrease in the amount paid per flat rate hour, the amount paid as a percent of labor dollars written by the advisor, or in the CSI bonus level. Another approach would be to link both the Service Manager's and Parts Manager's pay plans to the combined performance of both departments. One way would be to add a component for each manager that is dependent on the performance of both departments. Pay plans could be considered that would reflect the total combined performance of both departments. Another policy that would affect both managers' compensation would be to sell all the parts over 30 days old to the service department. It would then become the responsibility of the service department to have the parts installed. The increased expense incurred by the service department would negatively affect the managers compensation. A critical area of special-order parts that does not come to mind quickly in discussion is the supporting role the parts department provides for the body shop. Many times, a month can be made or lost in the parts department based on sheet metal sales to the body shop. A much higher percentage of parts is special ordered for the body shop strictly because of facility limitations. The body shop may very well dictate a process totally of itself, which may even be different if your body shop is on site or off site. In many cases it is the basic arrangements between the two departments that play a major factor in its success factor. There would appear to be more accountability and responsibility if one person within the parts operation is dedicated to service the body shop account. This way a relationship and bonding can be developed which is beneficial to both departments. At least one daily visit, if not two, are advisable. This way new orders can be accepted from the individual writing the estimate and an update can be given on pending orders. A specific time frame normally works well; then it is a predictable time that within reason can be counted on by all parties. As an example, maybe there is a visit at 9:00 AM and 3:00PM. Naturally, the estimator is anxious to hear about the arrival of new orders in an effort to schedule and load the shop. Parts that are owed either for a vehicle that has departed or one currently in the shop is another area of conversation to take place during these visits. The body shop needs to be prepared to discuss these issues during the daily visits. The parts department assigning one party to the body shop can reduce the amount of traffic and phone calls to the parts department from the body shop. Think about the amount of time that could possibly be saved by reducing the number of trips and calls to the parts department. Of course, both departments share the time saving. The parts person has the responsibility to upgrade the status of pending parts, receive new orders and place orders depending upon circumstances. The proposed arrival dates can change dependent upon the availability in stock and the availability in local warehouse, so communications are essential. A brief visit to each technician by the parts person affords the sense of unity and communication on a first-hand basis. Should there be an incorrect part or an unusual part required the parts representative is right there on the spot. On occasion, a part may not be available based on the appointment date. If this is the beginning of the repair process, one part missing may not be an issue and repairs can still proceed. However, if this is a return situation for a special-order part, communication at least a day prior is essential. Many body shops will have a designated area for parts to be checked in, stored, and accounted for. The parts person should have the accepting party sign for all the parts delivered in an effort to reduce any future misunderstandings. If this were to be the technician assigned the job, the correct part received can be verified at this early stage. The body shop will require one person to communicate with the parts person, at a minimum. If only one person is used, this party may be the estimator, the person scheduling work or the manager. Each body shop's case will be different from the next since no two body shops are exactly the same. This individual should be prepared to turn over new orders that have a proposed start date, supplement orders, or owed orders on a daily basis. No matter what kind of order, share the proposed appointment date. Naturally it is not a perfect world; some days, verbal communication at the time of the visit may not be possible. In this case consider having bins or areas set up for new estimates to be picked up, new supplement orders that are required, and an area for updates on current orders. Every day the next days schedule should be checked in an effort to ensure that all necessary parts have been secured. In the unlikely event they have not, the parts person should be contacted during the next visit for clarification. If a vehicle is going to be released with an owed part, the body shop should communicate this to the parts department in an effort to have all parts billed out and accounted for. Computerized special-order part communications are another way management of todays fixed-operations uses to communicate and expedite special-order parts. With several vendors offering integration of special-order parts procedures on computer systems, dealerships are offered the ability to check status on the computer. These types of procedures can be installed into any of the previous processes discussed in this document. In most cases, the parts status is updated in the special-order field upon the part being receipted in the computer system. This allows an advisor/manager/clerk to check status at any time. This process may or may not eliminate the need for all prior processes to be performed. With todays customer being more computer savvy than ever before, consideration could be given to utilizing a website to aid in the notification and appointment process for special-order parts. Creation of a page for customer access to check the status of their special order would enhance customer communication with the dealership. The page could contain the listing of all customer special-order parts for access by either name, repair order number, or a designated order number issued to the customer. It would be possible to also include an estimate of the time necessary for installation of the part so the customer can arrange for installation based on his schedule. The customer should have the ability to schedule installation through the website. This could be done by creating a link to the service department schedule with possible available times. After selecting an appointment time, the service department would verify the time by either email or phone. Each day either by printing a list of appointments or accessing the page, the service department would have access to the appointments scheduled. Two important topics associated with special-order parts are the Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) and Special-Order Economics. Customer satisfaction scores are affected by special-order parts. A vehicle returned to a customer to await the arrival of the special-order part will have to make a second trip to the service department to complete the installation if mobile installation isnt a part of the dealerships services. The way some CSI surveys are worded, and the way customers interpret the question asked, undoubtedly ensures that in many instances returned CSI scores will probably indicate the vehicle wasnt repaired on the first visit to the service department. When dealership policies are not effective and/or not followed, communications breakdowns can cause a less than satisfying experience when parts are not expedited in a manner to meet the expectation set. On the economics side, according to the manufacturer, it may be advantageous for the parts department to order the part or parts needed on a regular stock order, or something other than an overnight order. Many parts managers are astute wizards of expense control. If parts management is exercising policies to contain freight costs, handling costs, maximize obsolescence credits and buy parts the most cost-effective way, conflict can be created when the service department wants parts not in stock ordered the most expeditious way. According to the cooperation offered by the service department in getting parts installed, the parts department may be hesitant to cooperate in ordering parts the fastest way. From the other side of the parts counter, the service department may be concerned with loaner or rental car expense, as well as rental or loaner availability to the customer. In some cases, considering the time it takes to get the vehicle into the shop, diagnose it and order necessary parts, the maximum days for manufacturer reimbursement for loaner or rental expense may expire. So, its in everyones best interest to consider all the facts and develop a partnership to minimize the frustration every dealership faces with special-order parts. In closing, the processes and procedures employed can be a major factor in your success or frustration. Every dealership is different. What works for one dealership may not work well for the next dealership. Choosing the right process, one that works for you, will be a factor on your customer satisfaction, customer retention, parts obsolescence, obsolescence returns and special-order parts return programs. Written by David Dietrich Developing Your Best Special-Order Parts Process - Part 2 This is Part 2 in a three-part article. View Part 1 | View Part 3 Another of the more traditional methods to handle the special-order parts process is to have the customer contacted by an employee in the parts department. The initial ordering process is very similar to the service advisor contact technique. After the order is placed the service advisor contacts the customer to notify them that a part is being placed on order. As in the prior technique this notification takes place when the service advisor contacts the customer upon job completion and again at the time of pick up. It is still suggested that the customer copy be stamped or a sticker affixed to indicate to the customer that a part has been ordered. As with the previous technique the parts department notifies the service advisor responsible for the order when the part arrives. Again, the standard 4- to 5-part special order form may be utilized. A copy would go directly to the service advisor. The computerized form may also be utilized in this method if the computer is being used as part of the special-order part system. A print out of the screen using a slave printer or the generation of a report by advisor can be used. Access must be given to this special-order parts screen to the service advisors. The customer notification process differs from the others previously reviewed. Upon part arrival someone from the parts department will be charged with the task of notifying the customer. Again, the preferred method is a personal phone call to a daytime phone number for the customer. A text message or E-Mail address may also be used. If an answering machine is reached during a daytime phone call a post card should be mailed as a back up. It would be wise to send a post card whether someone has been contacted or not. The parts department has the part or parts in their inventory and will try to get the customer back to the dealership to get them off the shelf. If cooperation between parts and service is strained the parts manager will ensure that customer notification is done. The parts department will get the contact made to avert sending the parts back within 30 days if the manufacturer offers a return program, adding to idle inventory, or using earned obsolescence credit to return the part. The liability of using this process includes a shortcoming in customer communications. If a customer is contacted by phone the first request to follow is for an appointment time. This will usually result in the parts department transferring a call to the service department. Another transfer may be necessary to the appropriate service advisor, because the service advisor may be assisting others or not be available, or the phone may not be picked up in the appropriate time. If the parts department is bearing the responsibility of customer notification there is the probability the service advisors aren't doing an adequate job of letting them know the parts on order. The service advisor originated the transaction with a repair order and it is only logical to assume thats where it should end. There can be a lower standard of customer satisfaction. There is also a non-traditional process being adopted for completing the special-order parts cycle, part installation at the customers home or office. This is a growing trend throughout the country. Instead of having the customer come to the dealership for installation the service department goes to them. This technique can result in higher levels of customer satisfaction and at the same time help to reduce return visits to the service department by the customers requiring additional parts installation. One of two appointment process options require the service department to schedule mobile installation after receiving the part. Upon receipt of the special ordered part or parts it will be necessary for the service advisor to contact the customer and secure specific information from the customer. The date and time of the appointment must be set with a number of factors in mind. The location of the car at the time of the appointment is obviously of prime importance as well as the location of the keys for use by the mobile technician. We must also verify the phone numbers for both the day prior to the appointment and the day of the appointment for effective communication with the customer. The appointment is scheduled on the mobile service scheduling system. Prior to the visit the part is inspected to ensure accuracy of ordering and quality. The customer is then contacted the day prior to the appointment to confirm all arrangements for installation. On the day of the appointment the customer is contacted before departure from the dealership. Communication is essential to avoid unnecessary delay or even cancellation after the mobile unit arrives at the agreed upon location. Policy and procedure guidelines for warranty replacement parts must be adhered to as outlined by appropriate documents or manuals. After completion of the installation the mobile technician must acquire the customers signature on the repair order and return it along with the defective part. Warranty repairs require no reimbursement by the customer; however, any customer-paid transactions should be prepaid prior to installation of the part. This may be done either by having the customer pay for the entire repair prior to leaving the dealership upon ordering or acquiring a credit card number and billing the repair upon return from installation. The other appointment option is the pre-scheduling of the installation prior to the customer’s departure from the initial vehicle pick-up. All of the steps above such as the acquiring of all necessary information, communication steps preceding the actual installation, and the following of all applicable policies and procedures should be followed. The obvious variation is that the appointment is set prior to departure of the customer when the order is generated so that no call is necessary upon receipt of the parts. The parts department is responsible to schedule the mobile service vehicle the day of installation based on the information concerning the appointment indicated on the special-order form. Contacting the customer the day prior and the day of the appointment can become the responsibility of the service advisor that initiated the transaction or a designated parts employee responsible for coordinating the mobile vehicle service. As with any of our previously discussed processes there are specific assets and liabilities to be considered before developing mobile service and special-order parts installation. The current capacity issues in many dealerships have given credibility to alternative means to reduce traffic without diminishing revenue. Installing parts through the use of mobile service will reduce the number of vehicles returning to the service department thereby freeing up appointment time. It is feasible that this approach may also increase sales of maintenance and light repair items by performing them on location. From the perception of the customer this represents an increased level of service provided by the dealership which could result in improved customer satisfaction scores. Careful consideration of this form of service must also include a review of the potential pitfalls. The most obvious of these is the additional communication required to insure consistent performance. Contacts with the customer are increased by having to verify the location of the vehicle and the specific times it will be there. This is in addition to the required contacts for notification and appointment setting. In order to perform mobile installation a vehicle with the proper equipment and tools is an obvious necessity. The expense associated with this as well as the manpower requirements should be calculated and weighed against the anticipated return. If the installation of warranty components is done, a higher skill level may be required, thereby increasing the personnel expense incurred. Another process that requires examination and is a source of frustration for all departments within the dealership is the special-order parts process for new and used cars. Without good procedures and communication this aspect of special-order parts can create numerous internal problems for all departments. Parts can get ordered without stock numbers. The salesperson asks to have it put under his name and to see “him” when it comes in, then gets lost in the shuffle. Parts often get ordered without repair order numbers resulting in a billing problem. Many times, the unit may be sold and delivered prior to the part being received and the order is not updated to reflect that ownership has been taken. The part will be received and not charged to the unit, causing the charges to not be reflected in the deal. When the part is received and the customer hasn’t complained of a problem the sales department probably won’t notify them to avoid a negative CSI response. As a result, the parts department may be asked to return the part and have to incur handling fees or use obsolescence credit. A way to consider the needs of the sales department, parts department, and the purchaser would be to charge the part to the unit at the time it is ordered. The part should be charged on a repair order or counter invoice, whichever is applicable. If the part is charged to a repair order it should then be closed. According to the dealership’s preference the labor may be charged in advance ensuring that all pending charges are levied against the unit. A best practice would be to never order a part without a stock number, the person’s name requesting the part, and a repair order or counter invoice. When drafting your own policy, it should be made clear how internal parts orders must be authorized prior to placing the order. Any policy should be specific in outlining the responsibilities of each department to the processes adopted. Sales department responsibilities should include all authorizations relating to the sale transaction and billing considerations. As well, the sales department should provide a report of sold units requiring special order parts, including the stock number with the new owner’s name and address. This would apply to all vehicles delivered prior to receipt of the part/parts, as well. This report should be provided on no less than a weekly, if not daily, basis. Communications and special-order procedures would work better if a daily report were generated. The Parts Department is now responsible to convert the special-order information from the stock number to the new owner’s information. Depending on the notification process being utilized in the store the customer is contacted upon receipt of the parts. This can be done within the parameters established for special order parts to have either the service advisor notify the customer, a specified parts employee, or arrangement for mobile installation. The service department must also be supplied with the necessary information upon parts arrival. Depending on the process, the service department must contact the customer to set an appointment for installation. If notification is to be made by a parts employee an appointment must be established with a service advisor. Mobile part installation would require the service department to contact the customer according to the mobile installation process previously outlined. There are benefits associated with utilization of this process as well as some potential liabilities. This process eliminates, or at least minimizes, the need for involvement by the sales staff in the notification and appointment processes. Due to the lack in many dealerships of a defined role for the salesperson in handling special-order parts on new and used cars, confusion often follows. By turning the process over to the service and parts departments that already have a defined method for handling special-order parts we can eliminate that step. This should also help to minimize turn-around time from order to installation. Another advantage is to begin communication between the advisor and the new customer which will begin relationship building. Much like the often-attempted practice of introducing new and used car customers to service, this will serve to relax their apprehensions about future transactions. Levels of customer satisfaction would be enhanced through effective customer handling. The issues of internal documentation and billing concerns are also addressed by billing parts to the repair order when the special order is generated. In some instances, it may also be appropriate to bill labor charges that will be incurred at installation. This will allow the office to close deals completely in an expedient manner to properly address sales commissions. The liabilities remain much the same as with many of our previously discussed processes. Communication breakdowns can occur. Improper transfer of stock numbers to customer names and addresses may make it difficult to determine who the part was ordered for and increase parts on the shelf. The turn-around time from order to installation may be extended due to a number of reasons. There may be a perception of a lower priority because the origin of the order was internally driven. The advisor may not have been involved with the order and be unfamiliar with the customer’s concern. The advisor may also delay contacting the customer until his schedule is less busy, assuming that the expectations of the customer are less urgent because he accepted delivery without the part. Continued next week in Part 3! Written by David Dietrich Developing Your Best Special-Order Parts Process - Part 1 This is Part 1 in a three-part article. View Part 2 | View Part 3 Say the words “Special-Order Parts” and a number of things immediately come to mind for dealership employees, according to their job and the department they work in. A service advisor will have to be the bearer of bad news to the customer. The vehicle will have to be held over. The customer will have to come back. The technician will lose time. The parts department will have to place an order and wonder if the part will really be used. The service manager and dealer think of the customer’s response to a fixed ops first visit question on a CSI survey. The dealership employees aren’t the only ones who have thoughts on special order parts. The customer may roll thoughts over in their mind as well. And sometimes it’s because of what’s happened before. “How long is it going to take this time to get my car back?” “Will they really call me, or will I have to call them and be placed on hold for a long time...just like the last time?” “When in the world am I going to be able to get in and get my car fixed?” So, the question is, as frustrating as this is for all of us, are there some ways we can minimize the interdepartmental confusion and serve our customers better? Within this article, there are strategies designed to help you employ tactical ways for handling special order parts. There is not just “a way” to handle special orders. There are “ways.” The “ways” covered have been used by various dealerships. The intent is to help you establish “ways” that will work for you. The types of orders we'll explore are: Service Department Special Orders Body Shop Special Orders Internal Special Orders We will examine ways to improve communications between parts employees, service advisors, technicians and the customers. It’s always better to have a strategic way of approaching a complex issue versus shooting from the hip. With that thought in mind, there are various considerations for developing a service department special-order parts system. A major part of the frustration associated with special-order parts for the service department stems from the many priorities and lack of communication. There are questions to be answered. Is the vehicle driveable? Are the part(s) in question safety- or convenience-related? For example, is it summer and do we need air conditioner parts? Or, is it winter and do we need a heater part? Do we have a brake problem, or is it a carpet that doesn’t fit just right? How badly does the customer need to have the vehicle back? Take this to heart...some of us have been in the automotive industry for years. And, although we think we know how difficult it is for the customer to give the vehicle up for a day or longer, do we really know? What kind of commitment has the service advisor made to the customer? How does the part need to be ordered to meet the needs of the customer and the commitment made by the service advisor? Sometimes parts are ordered without communication between the parts department and service advisor. This can cause problems for the service advisor. It can result in a loss for the parts department. The parts department can lose obsolescence credit, stock order allowance/discount, and incur unnecessary freight charges. Many times, there is no obligation felt by the customer to return for installation either because it is a nonessential item or there is no urgency to do so. The need to address this has been a topic for discussion for many years. On customer pay special orders, consideration should be given to charging the part or a portion of it to the customer at the time of ordering. Parts can not be ordered without documentation of payment. Warranty special orders have even less urgency to the customer. Many agencies believe that providing a loaner car until installation is completed is the answer. Deposits on warranty parts are also a means of insuring return by the customer. Another option is the removal of items not essential to the vehicle’s operation such as trim during the initial service visit. A system that addresses the needs of the customer, the service department, and parts department is needed. Again, there are “ways” versus “the way.” To get the best results, the parts department and service department management staff should work together to implement a policy for the employees to follow. When a customer is required to leave make a return visit for a special-order part, one way to address this issue is to pre-schedule an appointment for the customer to return. Coordination and execution on behalf of both the parts and service departments are required. One of the keys to success is for the advisor to obtain a commitment from the customer on a date and time which may be convenient for them to return for installation. This can be performed at the time of the call to inform the customer that their vehicle is completed or upon arrival, depending upon your active delivery system. Establishing an understanding of all the different types of orders that are available and the days on which they are ordered and received is essential. For example, there may be a stock order, daily order, and a critical order, and depending on the manufacturer, the verbiage and time frames may differ. The parts manager may wish to educate the service management and advisory staff in an effort to avoid confusion of the details of each order type. This entire process (pre-scheduling of special-order parts) may be performed manually or through the computer system assuming that the computer is capable of handling this function. Let us begin first with the manual transition. Upon determination by the technician that a part must be ordered, the technician may hand carry the appointment card to the advisor for a date to be completed. The advisor would enter the completion date on the card and return it to the parts counter for processing of the order. An order is not placed until the advisor informs the parts department of an appointment date. Documentation would be advisable in an effort to eliminate the he-said/she-said syndrome. This date should have already been agreed upon with the customer and advisor. On the appointment log, the appointment needs to stand out from the others, perhaps a yellow highlight. One consideration at this point would be the creation of a repair order for the purpose of charging the special-order part. This technique is most applicable to the pre-scheduling process because a time and date has already been determined for installation. As well there is a repair order already generated prior to customer arrival which would expedite installation. A minimum of at least a one-day grace period should be considered in the case that an unexpected delay is encountered. If all appointments were scheduled in the computer then perhaps highlighting this appointment in the computer would be possible. Every day the advisor should look at the next day’s appointments to ensure that all parts have been secured. In the unlikely event that there is one for which no notification was received from the parts department, the advisor should contact the parts department for clarification. It is possible that one could fall through the cracks; however, if there is a check and balance in both the parts and service departments, embarrassments should be minimal. Naturally, from a communication standpoint the parts department has their responsibilities, as well. Once the order form with the appointment date has been received the order should be placed to match the appointment date. If you use the color keyed special-order form, reserve one copy for the alphabetical file and one copy for the appointment date file. As the parts are received, the copy pulled from the appointment date box may be given to the advisor for receipt verification. The alphabetical copy can remain until the part is secured for installation. Each day the assigned party in the parts department should check the next day's appointment box to ensure all copies are gone, which would indicate that all parts have arrived for that day’s appointments. If a part was unable to be obtained, the advisor should contact the customer to select another workable date. Should the part be involved in a back-order situation, a commitment will need to be made to follow up with the customer by phone, e-mail or whatever method of communication is selected. Another good practice, even though an appointment was pre-scheduled, is to contact the customer one day prior to the appointment. The purpose naturally is to reconfirm. In the event of a no-show appointment, every effort should be made to contact the customer by phone, e-mail, pager or whatever means was agreed upon. This minor step can have a heavy impact on the special-order parts in the bins not picked up. A meeting with all parties involved from both departments is critical for success prior to the technique being implemented. In many cases the special-order parts orders are set up in the computer by themselves. In this case when the part is receipted, the status is updated from ordered to received. Now a service advisor or parts person can inspect the status at any given time with few obstacles in their way. As with any technique or concept there can be assets and liabilities. From an asset standpoint, here are some of the reasons for setting an appointment at this time: Setting an expectation level for the customer To avoid the process of receiving the part and then contacting the customer Less time between the order and the installation An improved chance of getting the customer back in for the installation There could be resistance to install this process due to these possible liabilities: The fear of a breakdown in communication. The parts department’s failure to notify the service department of referrals, backorders. The part didn’t show up for one of the above reasons and the customer showed up because nobody called them. An effective game plan with all parties' commitments is essential. As the saying goes, "If we do what we have always done, we will continue to receive the same results." One of the more traditional ways to handle the special-order part process is with an advisor contact upon part arrival. After the order is placed, the advisor normally contacts the customer to inform them of a part being placed on order. This notification normally takes place at the same time a call upon job completion would be made and/or at the time of pickup. With this technique it would be advisable to have a stamp that indicates that a part has been ordered. Of course, the stamp or sticker would be placed on the customer copy. From the parts department perspective, a party within this department is responsible to notify the service advisor that is responsible for the order when the part arrives. One way that this can be done is using the standard 4- or 5-part special order form. One of the copies goes to the advisor for notification. Another way could be using computerized forms if the special-order part system is utilized with the computer system. This screen is accessible to most individuals and the advisor can print a copy at their will. This all leads up to the customer notification upon part arrival. The preferred method by many customers is a personal phone call to a daytime phone number for the customer. However, depending upon the individual, a pager number or e-mail address may be considered. Just as reassurance, a post card may be mailed by the parts department. As is the case in most instances, the process only works as well as it is followed and inspected. A similar focus on special order parts on the shelf is advisable as many dealerships focus on open repair orders. It is not abnormal for an open repair order list to be given to an advisor daily and an update expected at the end of each day, if not daily, then weekly. Why could one not expect the same from the special-order parts bin? Continued next week in Part 2! Written by David Dietrich What Should Your Hours Per Repair Order Be? This is a common question but also a commonly misunderstood measurement. All Service Departments are not created equal. Several factors within each Service Department can play a major role in this number. Some of these factors are: Additional Service Requests ASR (and process) Average mileage of vehicle Multi-Point Inspections (and process) Menus in place (and process) Work mix - repair/maintenance/competitive Express Service Any of these factors mentioned above will not only affect your Hours Per R/O but also will affect your ELR (Effective Labor Rate) and Dollars per R/O. Let’s do a quick example of how one of these factors will influence our numbers. This Dealership's Service Department has no Express Service in place and only performs about 2 Oil Changes per day. This example shows this Service Department has $100,000 Monthly Sales $74,000 Monthly Gross 400 Repair Orders $250 Dollars per R/O $95.00 ELR 2.63 Hours per R/O 1052.6 Total Hours By the numbers, this looks like a healthy Service Department, so let’s add one factor to this Department. We have added an Express Service that is up and running within the Service Department. We have separated the Express numbers from the main shop to compare. $20,000 Monthly Sales $7,000 Monthly Gross 350 Repair Orders $35 Dollars per R/O $40.00 ELR .88 Hours per R/O 500 Total Hours Since we know this is an Express Service Department we can understand why these numbers are not as strong are the first example of a Repair Shop that did not have an Express Service. Now let’s combine the two departments which is very common when looking at Service Departments $120,000 Monthly Sales $81,000 Monthly Gross 750 Repair Orders $160 Dollars per R/O $77.29 ELR 2.07 Hours per R/O 1552.6 Total Hours With having raised the number in some areas and lowered it in others, let’s take a closer look. In this Change example, we can see increases in $20,000 Monthly Sales $7,000 Monthly Gross 350 Repair Orders 500 Hours We also have decreases in -$90.00 Dollars per R/O -$17.71 ELR -0.56 Hours per R/O By taking just this one factor you can see the drastic change it can make in your numbers. Work Mix should always be analyzed when evaluating these numbers. You need to know what percent of Repair/ Maintenance and Competitive work you have in your department. If a Service Department is doing a great job in Express, it will also increase their Maintenance and Repair and Customer Retention. Another thought, we all understand that to keep customers coming back we need to be Convenient, Trusting and Competitive. In most cases, we cannot be convenient for a customer to get their oil changed today without some kind of Express Service. If a Service Consultant's Pay Plan is partly based on Hours per R/O, what will that Consultant do when they see an Oil Change Customer coming? That customer in many cases will get ignored. The answer to the original question “What should your Hours per R/O be?” is, that will depend on your Work Mix, MPI Process and Advisor ASR Process. But the simple answer is MORE. Written by Bill Durham Parts Pricing for Maximum Revenue The most effective pricing strategy for parts is much like it is (or should be) for vehicle sales. It is structured to provide a balance between Gross Profit % and volume by pieces or units. It does no good to sell only a few parts to attain a high GP% unless you’re out to impress your 20 Group instead of improving your bottom line. Similarly, it is equally useless to achieve high volumes with loss leaders or with sub-standard margins simply to impress the factory by selling for MSRP or achieve further purchase discounts which you end up giving away anyway. The best solution is one which blends them to provide high unit sales with good average retained Gross Profits. Matrix Pricing 101: The traditional approach to improving Gross Profit margins has been to implement some form of Matrix Pricing. This originally came into popular use when manufacturers began reducing the difference between Cost and MSRP, much like they have with vehicles. Dealers seized upon various forms of this practice to recover lost revenue until it became excessive in many markets, causing a backlash from customers and a subsequent rise in sales from the aftermarket. Like anything else, too much of a good thing eventually became a bad thing. The original premise was to greatly increase the mark-up on lower priced items. This assumed that customers would not take notice since the actual dollars generated would be relatively small at that level. NOT!!! This tended to create better reports than actual revenue, so the price breaks that were matrixed grew ever higher until every level was bumped to some degree. The DMS providers aided and abetted this practice by offering the ability to have as many as 100 price break groups, and consultants quickly followed with “guaranteed formulas” designed to achieve astronomical levels of profits for the end users. The issue with these was that none of them considered the dealership's actual sales profile, and most did not distinguish between competitive and captive parts. One Size Fits All thus became the norm, and once again the aftermarket welcomed our customers with open arms and cash drawers. Alternative Approaches: The simplest approach is to throw out the complex matrixed multiple price levels and apply a single cost plus factor to everything. This applies the multiplier evenly across the entire population of numbers being sold and, depending on the aggressiveness of the factor, will generally produce the desired results with fewer complaints or rejection by customers. The issue with it is that no accommodation is made for parts that have aftermarket competition, and the end result is often lowered piece sales on these items and reduced actual revenue. The GP% penetration usually meets the objective unless you experience substantial re-pricing (discounting) on the part of your sales staff as a reaction to rejection by the public. This is often the first sign that your multiplier is too high, and you must look to see if only certain parts groups are experiencing this. An analysis of these transactions typically identifies competitive parts that never should have been matrixed in the first place. The unfortunate part of this is that the same analysis will generally show that the discounting required to make these sales has probably resulted in a lower GP% than if you had been market competitive in the first place. Another effective approach involves Price Averaging. In its basic format similar parts are grouped together and a common cost per unit is determined by a sales weighted average. That average cost-per-piece is now multiplied by the factor necessary to achieve the desired GP% for the entire group of part numbers. In some cases, prices will rise on some parts, and fall on others, but on a sales weighted basis they will achieve the desired target margin for the group. That target margin may differ depending on how competitive that group is. As an example, Air Filters may be more conservatively priced than Brake Rotors. This is done because the public generally has a better idea of what an Air Filter should cost than the Rotors. This is the process that we use when constructing Maintenance Menus for our clients. There are other advantages to Price Averaging besides Menu Pricing. It’s a lot easier for Service Advisors to sell something when they can quickly and accurately quote an installed price for commonly sold parts. The time it takes to shuttle the customer back and forth between parts and service to get a final price is the main reason why Service Pricing Guides came into being by the DMS providers. You can achieve higher unit sales by simply having accurate and competitive prices available on demand. Since management hopefully has done the research before pricing is set there should be little, if any discounting if it was done properly. This goes a long way toward improving the GP%. If the prices have been set to market standards then the sales volume should go up as well since customers will have little reason to refuse a job, at least as far as parts price is concerned. Finally, there is a place for a multilevel Matrix in the overall plan, and we recommend one called the Bell Curve. It eliminates the $5 bolt and $10 Light Bulb by only focusing on repair parts in the mid to upper cost ranges where they will generate real income. The more pieces you sell at your target retention the more revenue you will have to pay expenses and end up with more net profit at the end of the month. Remember, it takes both volume and margin to generate the revenue you need to be profitable. Written by Jim Richter Why Fixed Ops Training is Critical to Success To be a truly great leader and manager of your department it takes a significant amount of time and focus. Both things tend to be in short supply in most service and parts departments. Days, weeks, and entire months can fly past in the blink of an eye. Your attention is demanded by the myriad tasks required to keep the operation moving in the right direction, crushing the ability to focus on the ones that are important, such as recruiting the best and brightest personnel. One of the most powerful ways to get a better handle on your time and focus in on high level management tasks is to ensure the team around you is competent and empowered. Having and executing a training plan for every position puts managers on the fast track to success. Here are some of the benefits of training in fixed operations. Allows managers to manage In the stores I’ve visited most of the questions come from the service advisors. So, what does good training look like for advisors? It includes a mix of web-based, instructor led workshops, situational live training, and role playing on real-life scenarios. The learning and practice in that training will provide them the confidence they need to field the typical day-to-day issues that come up. And the time a manager invests in that training will pay off ten-fold over the long run by giving that manager more time and allowing them to focus on what is important. Remember - a well trained staff leads to an efficient manager. Improves retention Training will also improve retention - of both your customers and your staff. Customers who are treated well are more likely to return. If the department has taken time to train all customer-facing employees to follow a consistent guest handling process, there are numerous benefits. Some of the most noticeable will be that the service provided is more consistent from interaction to interaction and from one advisor to the next. If a trained process is in place it will also be easier for the customer to get in and out while feeling good about the dealership. The staff will also be more satisfied with their jobs and be less likely to leave the position. Training shows an employee that the dealership has an interest in making them the best they can be. This leads to higher levels of employee engagement. A recent Gallup study found that businesses with highly engaged personnel have up to 67% lower turnover, 21% higher sales and 10% better customer ratings. Better fixed right first time rates There are three parties directly involved with getting a vehicle fixed right the first time - the customer, the service advisor, and the technician. We all know that a certified technician - who has been through days and weeks of manufacturer training - is more likely to get the job done right on the first attempt. But what of the other link managers can control - the advisor? Too often they haven’t received the training necessary to get the best information possible from the customer, information the tech needs to properly diagnose and repair the issue at hand. Again, training the advisors teaches how to perfect their customer greeting, nail the questioning portion of the write-up, confirm their understanding of the issue(s) and get it properly documented on the repair order. Overall, it is critical that dealerships invest in training for their fixed ops staff. Every service and parts department needs a manager who has the time to not just manage, but lead. Every department would benefit from lower turnover, higher sales, and more satisfied customers. And every service department should strive to fix every vehicle right on the first visit. If you are interested in more information related to training your fixed ops personnel, be sure to check out our website www.fixedops.org for web-based service advisor training courses or contact any one of our team members via phone or email. Written by Adam Wright Do You Have a Goal? "Let's Talk Production" Technician Production Let's imagine you take trip to a destination you have never been. You embark on this journey without any sense of the direction or even a map to show you how to get there. This same type of situation occurs in a large majority of service departments every day. The service staff shows up for work without any goals or narrative of what defines a good day. What is technician production? Technician production is the measurement of billed hours as a percentage of hours worked. For example, a technician who works an eight (8) hour shift and bills ten (10) flat rate hours is measured as 125% productive. Technician production objectives are one of the very basic foundations of any automotive dealership's service department's profitability. Production management remains one of the most under-used and mis-managed controllables in the industry. We must ask ourselves why this happens. Why would we start each month, each week or each day without a clear defined goal or what we must do to achieve our production goals? When this occurs, it is usually due to the following: Service management does not: Understand technician production Know how to establish production objectives Know how to review or track the set objectives Know how to hold the staff accountable for their production performance Know how to encourage and/or motivate the staff to strive for more while keeping morale up Keep in mind the inventory of technician billable hours starts to expire once the hands on the clock begin to move, once this inventory of hours expires they can never be re-cooped. This is no different than when an airplane takes off with empty seats, those empty seats can never be sold once that flight takes off. Technician Production Objectives Technician production objectives are "realistic" flat rate hour goals established to improve technician efficiency and shop productivity. When technician production objectives are established correctly there is generally an increase in daily billable hours and consistent work flow. They also create a process to consistently monitor and adjust your department's shop loading. Production objectives are normally introduced when implementing some sort of advanced production (i.e. simple support or lateral support, etc.) but can be utilized in any shop structure. Let's consider that production objectives already exist in every shop. Ask any flat rate technician what constitutes a good day for them and they will tell you the number of flat rate hours that makes them feel good. Now with this in mind, would it not make sense to take what the technician considers a good day and match it to what the department needs and have a process in place to manage toward the collective objective of the shop? Considering how much the implementation and management of production objectives can have on a service department, why has every shop not performed this simple improvement? When I have asked Service Managers if they are tracking technician production, I will generally hear one of the following answers: Yes, they already track production But not with established performance objectives There are few if any technician meetings to discuss production performance No I have been meaning to do this When a Service Manager answers "no," I ask, "Why not?" The new and used sales departments have been doing this for years with great success. Here are some of the excuses I have heard over the years: Tracking production will not help my shop I do not have time To run the report To meet with the technicians every morning There are eight (8) hours a day so I expect eight (8) flat rate hours or more This would work if all technicians were created equally There was equality in the dispatching Accurate technician and skill group match Favorites are being played Proper shop loading Loaded for production, not vehicle count Production loading to match technician skill groups and performance within these skill groups Staff members scheduling work to fit their comfort level, not the department's capacity If you do not think you have a problem in this area, mystery shop your service department on a Saturday afternoon for what should be a same day repair. You may be surprised at excuses you get as to why they cannot get that vehicle in for repair and/or service. My shop is "unique", it just will not work, you do not understand Your shop is not "unique" You need customers, sales and staff to perform these repairs Service departments around the country fight the same challenges - it just depends on management and the staff's conviction to succeed. Lose the excuses. Implementation and Management of Production Objectives Implementation and utilization of production objectives will improve the production of your staff. A consideration for thought: Increasing production in an 8-10 technician shop by 10 percent will have the same effect as adding one technician. Establishing Production Objectives essentially involves determining the average flat rate hours produced by each technician over a given period and applying a performance increase. This performance increase must be realistic and agreed to by service management and the technicians. Service management must interview each of the technicians, listen to their concerns regarding roadblocks and determine solutions to help them achieve the agreed-on production objectives. While production objectives are an effective way of increasing shop production, capacity and vehicle through-put, objectives will require consistent attention by service management. For production objectives to be highly effective they will require service management review and discussion with the staff daily. Daily production meetings are necessary; human beings are goal driven by nature and will almost always strive to exceed every goal set in front of them. When production objectives are implemented properly, they will improve employee loyalty, satisfaction and retention. The technicians will no longer feel as if they are the only ones that worry about how many hours they produce. They realize they now have assistance in helping them accomplish their personal financial needs. Remember, technician production objectives must be implemented "with" and "for" technicians to really be effective. Production objectives will not only improve shop loading but department forecasting. One question I always ask management in every store I go into that is not tracking technician production is how they provide an honest realistic forecast based on statistic data. Written by Kemp Evans I must ask--how much do you want to make this year? This is the kind of process improvement M5 Management Inc. specializes in. If you have any questions on this or any other service department process improvement call me at (205) 603- 1996 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Best of the Best Do you wonder what it is that sets apart the best dealership service departments from the rest? There are thousands of dealership service departments and tens of thousands of different practices. So, what makes the most successful dealerships, well, “Successful”? Process Successful dealerships have created processes that drive the culture of the entire service department. This guarantees that the customer will be talked to and handled in the exact same way regardless of who they speak with. Processes that set minimum acceptable standards and then they execute on those processes. Tools Dealerships that are successful always have the latest tools and have a staff that is trained to use them to their full potential. These dealerships keep up with the times and utilize the latest technologies to enhance the customer experience. They do not hold back due to the cost of an item as long as there is a proven return on investment. And an enhanced customer experience is always a return worth the investment. Rewards This is one of the most underutilized practices in the industry. Successful dealerships have some type of rewards system for their customers that drives the dealership's repeat business. The structure of the most successful programs rewards better customers with better rewards. This is usually done in leu of sending out massive coupon campaigns and offering massive discounts to random customers that are just there for the “cheapest oil change in town”. Follow Up The best of the best follow up. Not only do they execute the process of effective Multi-point inspections, but they have processes in place to ensure that every declined service is offered a second opportunity to complete the necessary services. They have tracking systems and use the best technology to ensure no one slips through the cracks. Training To successful dealerships, Training is a part of their culture. Most have certification programs that they require every employee, from porters to cashiers, to advisors and technicians, to complete and maintain through the entire time they are employed. Constant training is achieved by setting expiration dates on all certifications and these dealerships also solicit outside training sources to ensure the message and keep training up-to-date and fresh. Meetings Communication is a key part of any business and almost always the major cause of failing departments. Successful Dealerships overcome this by having strategic and consistent standup meetings daily, 15-minute weekly tracking meetings, hour long monthly review meetings, as well as bi-annual or annual progress and forecasting meetings. They conduct monthly individual meetings with each employee to review their individual performance and what they are accountable for and that they are on track with their performance to meet established goals. If you and your team have the desire to become the best of the best, let me help you gain traction on getting there. Contact me at any time, and we will put a plan in place that will set in motion what it takes to become “The Best of the Best”!!!!! Written by Julian Armijo Unhappy With Employee Performance? When I was a young manager, and I found myself frustrated with the performance of my team, I quickly blamed those members on my team. If they were not giving me what I expected from them, it must be their fault, right? I continued with that line of reasoning for quite some time. I found myself more and more frustrated with certain (underperforming) employees and when those employees were no longer working for me, I was sometimes surprised that the “new” employees were turning out to be no better than the ones they replaced. Then I went to work for a man who made sure I understood his way of looking at underperforming employees. What he taught me changed the whole way I managed people. His philosophy was that there are five reasons why employees are not performing up to their manager’s expectations: The employee is not clear on what is expected of them The employee does not know how to do what is expected of them The employee has something preventing them from doing what is expected of them The employee cannot do what is expected of them The employee will not do what is expected of them Let’s break each one down. Reason 1: The employee is not clear on what is expected of them If the employee is not clear on what is expected of them, who is to blame for that? Is it the employee’s fault? No! You as a manager are supposed to make sure your employees know what is expected of them. Reason 2: The employee does not know how to do what is expected of them If the employee is not trained enough to be able to perform at the level expected of them, who is responsible for training? The employee? No again! You as a manager need to provide your employees with the training needed to be able to perform their job. Reason 3: The employee has something preventing them from doing what is expected of them If there is something (or possibly someone) getting in the employee's way and preventing them from performing at the expected level, is that the employees issue? Again, no. It is your job as a manager to work on those roadblocks for your employees. Reason 4: The employee cannot do what is expected of them If you find the employee is not able to do the job they are assigned to, that typically falls into the category of the employee’s capacity. If the employee cannot do their job, it is fair that they cannot keep their job. This one falls on the employee. Reason 5: The employee will not do what is expected of them Written by Jeff LaMott Service Advisor Certification Series on M5 Fixed Ops University Are your advisors trained to succeed? I have seen several Advisors in my travels that want to do a good job, but they have not been trained to win in their position. M5 Management Services breaks the Service Advisor process into ten different training points: Prepare for the Guest - Good preparation starts the guest relationship off on a positive note. Initiating Guest Interactions - Steps service advisors should follow with each guest. The Walk Around - Introduces the guest to the multi-point inspection and shows the client we care about their safety. Writing a Great Repair Order - Proper documentation for the technician to increase production. Increasing Menu Sales - Techniques to use that are needs based and do not apply any pressure. Facilitating the Repair - Best practices on preparing and delivering the estimate to the guest. Status Communications - Insuring communication on status and completion times to increase CSI and drive production. Increasing Additional Service Recommendations (ASR) Sales - Learning a proven sales process. Overcoming Sales Objections - Ways to overcome road blocks and utilize best practices when selling maintenance and repairs. Active Delivery - Key points to cover and the process of reintroducing the guest to their vehicle. Sending Advisors to training is very expensive and has a negative impact on customer satisfaction and production but we must continue to train so our advisor staff has all the tools and knowledge to provide customer satisfaction and high levels of technician productivity. M5 Management Services offers five days in-store advisor training for $7,995, expenses included, that is very effective. Now we also offer Advisor Training online through our M5 Fixed Ops University for only $149.00 per advisor. These courses cover all ten soft skills mentioned above. This is an outstanding tool for Service Management to use with long term Advisors as a refresher course and a good way to set the tone with new hires without leaving the Dealership. Please take a minute to look at our website www.m5ms.com and click on M5 Fixed Ops University or go straight to our M5 University www.fixedopstools.com scroll down to Fixed Ops Training Online and view the short video explaining “How it Works”. The first 10 seconds is a walk through on how to sign up then followed by an audio video explaining the Online Courses. After reviewing the video scroll down through the ten courses, and at the bottom click on "Enroll." Determine how many advisors you want to enroll. One advisor to four Advisors is $149.00 each. Five Advisors are $699.00 and ten Advisors are $1,299.00. Add the student's name and email to the sign-up page. Select Joe Carroll as the consultant. Then add to cart. On the top right side of the page click on "Items" then view cart. Click on "Proceed to checkout". If you are a returning customer put your email and password in and sign in. New customers simply click on "Register" and follow the steps to make an account. Four easy steps to create your new account. Using a credit card will give you a fast start to training but you can also send payment in by check to: M5 Management Services 985 Yeager Parkway Pelham, AL. 35124 Attention Joe Carroll/Marc Harris Please contact me by text phone or email with any questions! Written by Joe Carroll email@example.com | 504-415-0253 Obtaining and Retaining Employees - Part 3 This is Part 3 in a three-part article. VII. Employee Satisfaction Surveys (ESI) Employee satisfaction surveys are becoming more common. The surveys are normally set up with questions that are specific to the employee's department. Surveys may be set up with different scoring systems such as top box scores, a 1-to-5 rating or a 1-to-10 rating, depending on the dealer's choice. General Factors Specific categories of questions must be set up depending on dealer preference. Some examples may be general factors of the job, such as: Are harassment policies are in place? Are respect and dignity shown to employees? Would the employee recommend the dealership as a place to work to a friend? Are you satisfied with the current job assignment? Is the benefit package offered by the dealership adequate? How do you feel about the future growth of the dealership? Customer Relations The next area relates to customer relations and how the employee feels regarding the dealership's commitment to customer satisfaction. Some examples may be: Reputation for providing a positive service experience. If customer loyalty and satisfaction are important goals for the dealership. If an employee would recommend the dealership to a friend or family member. Pay and Performance Pay and performance are important to the average employee. In many cases, performance is more important than pay. Employees want to know what is expected of them and how they are doing regarding their level of performance. Some categories to consider: Job performance is measured in a fair and objective manner. Pay plans consider skill, experience and job performance. Timely performance feedback and evaluations that allow the employee to know how they are doing. Recognition received for doing a good job. Job Enrichment Job enrichment is a category for the employee to express how they feel regarding their opportunity to improve and how they feel about their part in employee satisfaction. A few categories to consider: Does the employee have the authority to make decisions that will improve their performance and customer satisfaction? Is the employee offered proper training to support their job description? Does the employee understand what is expected of them? Facility Another category relates to facility issues, such as facility condition and safety, and how the employee views them. Some examples: Does the employee have the proper equipment, tools, and inventory to perform their job effectively? How satisfied is the employee with the facility and its condition? How satisfied is the employee with the safety of the work area? One of the most important items regarding ESI surveys is related to how the information gathered will be addressed. The way this is handled can turn a positive into a negative if not done properly. Responses should be provided in a timely manner. One option is for the dealer and the employees of a specific department to address the survey results directly. Another option is for the dealer and the department head to meet on the results of the surveys, and then for the manager to meet with his or her employees. A third option, but one that may not be the most effective, is to distribute a memo to address the concerns discovered as a result of the surveys. An ongoing survey given to the employees is a way to determine if the ESI surveys are gaining relative ground and positive results are being achieved. VIII. Summary Employee satisfaction is just as important as customer satisfaction. The high cost of placing help wanted ads, pre-employment tests and training new employees versus retaining a current employee is a significant consideration. Customers gain confidence and security in dealing with employees they have seen for years. That familiar face may truly be the deciding factor as to whether that customer remains your customer. Written by David Dietrich View Part 1 | View Part 2 Obtaining and Retaining Employees - Part 2 This is Part 2 in a three-part article. Concepts to Improve Communication and Assist in Retaining Employees It is important to utilize available concepts to improve communications. Using proven tools and practices assist in retaining employees: Job Descriptions Job descriptions are vital. Each position in the dealership must have a specific job description. A job description is a detailed list of duties and responsibilities. It is generally an outline of what is and what is not to be done. A good job description clarifies departmental responsibilities. In some situations, it is a good idea to list the physical requirements and demands of the position. When reviewed at hiring, a job description gives the employee a good idea of what must be done to do a good job in the eyes of the employer. From that point, the job description should be used as a management tool to assist in regularly scheduled employee performance evaluations. During many in-dealership consultations, employees have told M5 consultants they either did not have a job description or had not seen it since they were hired. Employee Reviews Regularly scheduled employee reviews are a way to provide a positive experience for employees. The feedback provided gives the employee an understanding of management's view of their job performance. Some key areas of review are attitude, attendance, working relationships and attention to detail. A review of the job description is necessary to maintain effective communications. If there are any necessary changes to the job description, this is a good time to make the changes in preparation of reviewing the changes with the employee. Using the job description as a tool, management may make changes that expand on the responsibilities of the employee. Changes in the job description may relate to more responsibilities, a greater challenge, and/or a way to motivate the employee.. The employee should be evaluated during a performance review, but the employee should be encouraged to join in the discussion. Give your employees advance notice of performance reviews to eliminate the element of surprise. This should make them more comfortable and reduce anxiety. Increased frequency of reviews makes the review process less threatening. Bonuses, Spiffs and Incentives It is frequently possible to get into a rut or a routine in any human endeavor. A way to improve employee retention and inject vigor into the work process is to implement bonuses, spiffs and incentives. Such motivating devices promote enthusiasm, excitement and motivation in the workplace. Bonus, spiff and incentive goals should be structured in a way to increase employee performance, but they must be attainable. If the goal is perceived to be unrealistic, the employees' efforts will probably not be maximized and morale could be affected in a negative way. It is very important for spiffs and incentives to have time limitations. If a spiff or incentive lasts too long, the employees perceive it as a permanent element of their pay plan. One of the worst things that could happen is to have a misunderstanding about a spiff or incentive. Management's best intentions can be in vain if employees feel they have played the game and do not get the reward. Make it a point to give the information in writing. Indicate the start and end dates of the incentive in a written format. Also put the rates of the incentive in writing. Proper planning gives the employees a chance to succeed, and provides a way for management to assert positive employee recognition. Sick Days versus Personal Days During a recent survey of over 300 managers, an amazing point came up regarding employee retention. Sick and/or personal days were a very common benefit offered by the dealerships who noted that employee retention was high. In some cases, the employees did not take the total amount of days afforded to them, but knowing that the days were available was important to the employees. Many employees perceive sick days and/or personal days as part of the benefits package. The question is whether the dealership should offer sick days, personal days or neither. Some employees will be sick and need time off during the year. Some will take every available day if sick pay is granted. Employees sometimes need a personal day and the only way to be paid for the day is to "call in sick." When this occurs, it is a surprise to management and may create hardships for the dealership. If personal days are part of the benefit package, employees can schedule the day off, allowing management to plan in advance, as well. Many employees probably view personal days as a better benefit than sick days. Absences must be managed regardless of your policy. During in-dealership consulting, we have found situations where record keeping was so inadequate that management did not know for sure who had missed days or how many days were missed over a period of time. Dealership Newsletters A dealership newsletter can be a good communications tool and promote positive morale for the dealership. Newsletters encourage communication within the dealership. If a newsletter is published, it should be published on a regular basis. Knowing the timetable, employees will look forward to getting the publication. Get the employees involved for long-term success. When employees are involved, the publication is more exciting for them and for those who work with them. This is another way to give employees the recognition they want and need. Some specific considerations: Will the publication be weekly, monthly or quarterly? Will the publication be a company information tool? What kind of topics will be featured? What do you expect the length of each issue to be? Can the publication be written in-house? How much will it cost to produce the average issue? Obtain examples from dealerships already up and running. Decide what you are willing to spend and develop a budget. Develop employee surveys for ways to improve the publication. Create an inventory of articles for future use to help reduce deadline concerns. Management Techniques Why does one dealership have a stable staff with little to no turnover while others do not? In most cases, this starts at the top and filters down through the management staff. Management Visibility and Accessibility Dealers should have an open door policy while not overstepping the boundaries of their management authority. The average employee likes to have dialog with the dealer principle or at least know that they are visible. Many dealers and managers exercise management by "walking around" to be visible and give the employees a sense that management cares. In many cases only casual conversation takes place, but issues or concerns can also surface. Should a concern develop directly to the dealer, a position to consider is, "Have you discussed this with your manager?" Take notes, discuss the circumstances with the manager and ask them to get back to the employee. Employees want their questions, concerns or ideas addressed in a timely fashion. Sometimes when an issue is verbalized, the employee receives a response such as, "I'll get back to you." Does this mean today, tomorrow or next month? The worst situation is if there is no return response at all. This can lead to an employee feeling that no one cares, which leads to frustration. The following are three positions that can be taken with regard to ideas, concerns or complaints: Give an immediate answer and supply date(s) for completion, e.g., "Bill that is an excellent suggestion. We will do that by Friday. Thank you for the idea." Always follow up to ensure that what was promised actually happens. "Allow me to take this under advisement and I'll be back to you by Friday." Concern or consideration is shown. Once again, follow up by the committed date. When the change is not feasible, "I can understand how you feel, but there is nothing that can be done as it relates to this issue." Too often employees may feel that they are doing a good job only because they do not hear anything as it relates to their performance. Or, employees hear the bad but not the good. Recognition for a job well done goes a long way. Psychological income can be just as important as financial. Employee Functions Employee functions build awareness and unity as well as develop a sense of a family. Many dealerships address this issue differently. One of the most effective ways is to have a monthly dealership get-together, as witnessed at Noble Ford in Indianola, Iowa. Once each month, a lunch hour is dedicated to an employee function for all employees. One department is responsible for the arrangements, such as food, entertainment and prizes. The meetings are always opened by the dealer principle. A general state of the business is addressed, followed by departmental and individual accomplishments. A gift is given to any employees who have a birthday in the month. The gifts may range from a restaurant gift certificate to tickets to an event or attraction in the local area. Lunch is catered or cooked depending on the agenda set by the host department, and entertainment is provided. The entertainment may range from a comedian to a motivational speaker to a carnival atmosphere complete with a dunk tank and a dart throw complete with prizes. The employees look forward to the monthly lunch meetings, which create a family type atmosphere. Family functions are held at least twice a year, generally a function during the summer months and a Christmas party. The summer gatherings normally take place at an amusement park or a game field for a cook out, games and entertainment. The expense pays for itself in psychological income for the employees. Employee Mistakes Different employers have different policies on mistakes made by employees. These mistakes may be minor in nature or could be a door ding or a blown tire while putting a vehicle on the rack. If an employee becomes a "habitual offender," steps must be taken to instill a sense of accountability. However, it may not be in your best interest to assess penalties from the start. Continued in Part 3! View Part 3 Written by David Dietrich Obtaining and Retaining Employees - Part 1 This is Part 1 in a three-part article. Introduction Selecting the “right” employee is a challenge each employer faces when filling a position. This challenge has become greater in recent years due to lower levels of unemployment. Unemployment levels have a direct effect on the selection processas unemployment rates go down, so do the number of candidates from which to choose. The automotive industry has felt the impact of this changing environment. The industry demands a new type of employee, one skilled in the latest technologies, dedicated to doing the job right and able to communicate with the customer and employer. These changes have forced us to reevaluate our priorities in the work place. Customer service has long been the prime focus in the automotive industry. However, our definition of a customer has been limited to the individual who purchased goods and services from us. This definition must expand to include our employees and peers. An emphasis must be placed on employee retention. Employee turnover is expensive, wasting both time and money. Consistency is the key to a productive department. Inconsistency produces a negative effect within the department, reducing calendar utilization and profitability. Why does an employee stay at one store and not another? Money, hours, benefits and work environment are just a few of the reasons. Getting to know your employees is important. Explore the reasons why an employee remains dedicated to an employer or company. Opening the lines of communication helps to provide you with those answers. Interview Process Hiring the “right” person starts with the interview process. The conditions of employment must be discussed at this time. Each potential employee must be advised of benefits, paid holidays, policies and procedures that affect the job and, most importantly, the company’s expectations regarding the position and the employee. The following questions are fundamental in the interview process: Why does this individual want to work for this company? Does this individual have a background in this particular field? Why is this individual applying for the position? How will this individual contribute to the company and its success? These questions provide a baseline of information for the selection process. The information gathered at this time will help you decide on the most suitable candidate. III. Employee Orientation Once the candidate has been selected, the orientation begins. It is important to gain the employee’s confidence from the start. Create a positive impression. Be available. New employees have a lot of questions-be there to ensure that their questions are answered. Provide a preceptor or partner to acquaint the new employee with his or her co-workers and work environment. Once this is completed, the training can begin. The employee must know the why, when, where and how of the position before he or she can expect to perform the job. Give the employee the materials necessary to learn about the position, emphasizing the individual’s role in his or her own orientation. Each employee must take responsibility for learning what it takes to do the job. The employee will participate in a program of self-directed learning under supervision. Allowing time to review policies and procedures provides a foundation for learning. How is it done here? Of course, there are elements of each orientation that must be reviewed and documented. “Right to Know” policies and procedures, as well as the accompanying Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), are two elements required to be in compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). A vital component of the orientation process is to review the Employee Handbook, which is the guide to functioning within the company. The Employee Handbook provides: Information specific to the company, including its Mission Statement. Explanation of the terms and conditions under which the employee is hired. Summary of benefits and eligibility. Explanation of how the system functions and the employee’s role within the system. Explanation of what will happen upon termination, voluntary or involuntary. Issues related to employee safety. Employee Needs You are building a foundation. A new job is not only an adjustment for the employee, but an adjustment to his or her family as well. Keep the family in mind, showing interest and support. Employee needs vary depending on the individual. Different employees have different personalities and personal needs. One employee’s priority may be medical insurance coverage, while another employee may have personal needs that vary from other employees. Effective Communication Effective communication is important in retaining employees long-term. Employees have a need to be recognized. Employee morale is linked to recognition. People like to know that management knows they have done something good and it was recognized. Management needs to understand the work environment in order to communicate more effectively with employees. The image of the dealership and its reputation in the community are important in employee retention. A less than desirable image can make it hard to employ even average personnel at premium wages. A savvy employer should make a conscientious effort to know what the competition is offering in ways of benefits and compensation. It is a good idea to perform a wage and benefits survey at least once a year. As well, it is wise to periodically research benefits options for employees. Through these efforts it may be possible to get better insurance coverage, lower co-pays and deductibles, retirement benefits, etc. Employees usually appreciate an employer who listens, pays attention and shows a genuine interest in personnel. Continued in Part 2! View Part 2 Written by David Dietrich Communication is the Key to Success During my travels I have seen several stores that still only use “voice calls” as the primary way to communicate with their customers. In this day and age I have found it harder and harder to answer my incoming phone calls. If someone calls and I cannot answer the phone, they may or may not leave a message. I wonder how much business or useful information I have lost because I was unable to answer a call. When booking travel I always use the internet. I am no computer genius, but I do prefer to book all my travel online. I avoid dealing with the airlines over the phone at all costs. It is a waste of my time. Here is an example. A few weeks ago I was traveling from Baltimore to Birmingham. I was scheduled for a four-hour layover in Atlanta. The airline had an earlier flight that I could make but could not change online. I called the carrier thirty minutes before taking off from Baltimore only to hear, “Your call is very important to us but due to the volume of calls your wait time will be approximately thirty five minutes.” I was thinking to myself, "I paid way too much money to be put on hold; this is unacceptable." I held for thirty minutes until the door was closed on the aircraft and was told to turn off my phone. When landing in Atlanta I called again to change my flight. Yes, I received the same message. “Your call is very important to us, but due to the high volume of calls, our current wait time is forty-five minutes.” After holding a total of one hour and fifteen minutes I was told it would cost the full price of the flight--$431. At this point they could have told me it was going to be $1.00 and it would have been too much. I explained in a very nice way that I had made two phone calls and had been on hold for over one hour “REALLY! YOU ARE GOING TO CHARGE ME FOR THE FULL TICKET? COME ON, REALLY!” The flight is twenty-seven minutes long and that would be about $15.96 per minute, space shuttle rates! I ask to talk to a manager and she explained she was the manager and there was no one else I could talk to. “We'll see about that!” I thought. I thanked her for doing nothing and letting me wait four hours for my flight. In Atlanta I found a representative to help me face-to-face and was booked on the earlier flight. After all my time, and the airline’s time on the phone, there must be a better way to stay in touch with customers and not get them fired up with wait times. Calling multiple times to satisfy a simple request is unacceptable. I am now looking to use another carrier because the process is broken! Everyone did what they thought was their job, but lost the customer because of the process. Sound familiar? Most managers and advisors I talk to do not like to text or email customers. Well, if you want to get hold of a young professional, you had better have a current way to communicate, using a “voice calls” as a last resort. They are the ones we need to survive long term. They find a company that will meet their needs and usually it’s not about price. It’s about how easy it is to set an appointment, get updated on status, make changes, and be notified when the vehicle is complete. During the appointment or write up, do we ask “Can I update you with a text message on the status of your vehicle?” After receiving authorization this is a real time saver compared to phone calls. Pictures or estimates can be sent from anywhere (not just the advisor’s desk). This is a quick way to reach out to the customer, putting them at ease. No information causes the customer to become angry. If thirty percent of the customers agree to text, just imagine how many phone calls into the dealership could be avoided. I understand that some of the older clients do not text, but make no mistake--the younger clients are on their phones all the time but not to answer it, to text from it. Search your app store. There are many free apps that will allow you to text for free without giving out personal phone numbers. Your competitors are using it. Why shouldn’t we? Written by: Joe Carroll For fast help or assistance with this process, text me at (504) 415-0253 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to call if you prefer. The Multi-Point Inspection: Why Is It Such An Issue? In traveling all over the country I hear more negative comments about the Multi-Point Inspection (MPI) than anything else. Service Advisors don't trust the technicians are doing them properly, technicians complain that they don't "get paid" for them and if they do them the service advisors "won't sell off them anyway." The MPI is a great way to build a trusting relationship with the customer if they are presented properly and not used as strictly a tool to sell the customer something. Sell the value One of the biggest things I see is that the service advisors do not put any value on doing the MPI to the customer. Many customers are in fear of taking their vehicle in because in their mind all the dealer is going to do is try and sell me something I don't want or need. This is because the only time we mention the MPI is when the customer needs service. A properly performed and presented MPI starting at the 1st service is the key to building a long and valuable relationship with the customer. At every write-up we must sell the customer on the value of the service we are performing. After the prime concern is established we must get the customer's permission to perform this valuable service for them. "Mr./Ms. Customer after we determine what is causing your prime concern (fill in the blank) we would like to perform an in-depth inspection of the various systems on the vehicle and report back to you if there are any other concerns that need attention. Is it Ok if we perform this complimentary inspection for you while we have the vehicle in for service today?" Many times I hear "Oh, and we will look it over and let you know what else we find" The customer interprets this as they will find something else to sell me. The MPI needs to not be something the customer fears. Make sure the customer knows you will have an update for them and give them a time you will call them with that update and stick to it. Don't make it a sales tool--make it a relationship builder I preach to every service advisor I work with about "selling the green" when discussing the MPI with the customer. Be just as enthusiastic about telling them that everything is OK as you are when you are trying to sell them brakes, tires, etc. Also, let them know that something is getting a little dirty or a little worn, but it can wait until the next service. This builds confidence and trust in you as an advisor and your dealership. Showing a general progression in wear as the vehicle ages also sets up the customer so they are expecting that possibly with the next service they will be needing brakes, tires, filters, etc. The worst mistake you can make is not checking the service history and having brakes or tires get better with age. Make sure all the inspections make sense as they are done. The inspection must be done properly It is management's responsibility to ensure the MPI is done properly and completely on every vehicle when they come in for service. Having technicians that pencil whip the inspection leaves the dealership wide open for liability if something fails that was marked as OK. This action also leads to the advisors not wanting to sell anything because they have no confidence in the accuracy of the inspection. A written policy regarding the accurate performance of the MPI should be drawn up and signed by all personnel. There should be specific guidelines for Red, Yellow, and Green standards. I suggest taking a random used car and have 3 or 4 different technicians perform the same MPI on it and then compare the results. You might be surprised at what you find out about one technician's view compared to another. Conclusion The MPI can be your best confidence and rapport builder with your customers. In this day and age of the recall of the day it is also a way to wow that customer that has not been in your store for a long time if it is presented properly and sincerely. Used wrong and it can drive the customer away and potentially keep them from coming back in the future. If you would like further information on MPI presentation training or any other service advisor training that M5 has to offer please do not be afraid to give me a call or drop me an email and I will be happy to discuss what M5 can do to take your business to the next level. What is your Quality Process? When I ask Service Managers what their quality process is they look at me like I have two heads. After gathering their thoughts, they say, "All rechecks go through the Service Manager." Well this is too late. Fix it right scores are not just the Technician's responsibility. It starts with the appointment and continues through the follow-up process. What is our process before the vehicle comes back? During the appointment process when discussing the primary concern, we need to determine if the concern/s can be duplicated when the vehicle is dropped off for service. When does the concern happen? Who was driving? How often does it happen? If we wait to discuss this with the guest at the time of write-up they may become upset because the verification process was not discussed during the appointment. We must discuss time required for the write-up process during the appointment. The customer is going to want to know what will be done to correct the concern. How much it will cost and how long will the repairs or maintenance take? If you have a BDC, this is typically a pain point. Maintenance can be cut and dry but what do we do with diagnoses? The best practice is to set up times to diagnose. If the appointment is for 8:00 am, inform the customer they will receive an update at 2:00 pm. The client will also want to know how much. Again, Maintenance should be cut and dry by sharing the service menu with your BDC. If the vehicle is out of warranty, we should have a script for the appointment coordinator. An example of a check engine light, “The Technician will need to run a series of tests to determine exactly why the check engine light is on. These tests will run $____ and we can update you on the status at 2:00.” Duplication of customer concern/s during write-up. Advisors should be coached to inspect the customer's concern, verifying but not diagnosing the customer's concern. Our clients always want to know three things about their concern. What we are going to do to resolve the complaint. How much it will cost if any, and when it will be done. On maintenance we can use the service menu to determine what needs to be done. How much it will cost and how long it will take. On diagnoses we should allow ourselves at least four hours. Best practice is on an 8:00 am drop-off or before, the customer should get a 2:00 pm update. After 8:00 am and before 10:00 am the customer should receive an update by 4:00 pm. Many advisors inform their customers they will have an update in one hour or worse yet, ask the client if they will be waiting. This sets us up for failure. All concerns should be documented on the complaint line, so no explanation is needed. Felt tip Service Manager RO reviews are highly recommended. When finding a complaint that will not stand on its own, Advisors should be coached immediately. If you have Group Leaders or a dispatcher, they should audit the concerns before dispatching. If the concern is too vague the RO should be kicked back to the Advisor for more information to save Technician bay time. During the repair process we should follow the manufacturer's recommendations to diagnose the concern. We should also map out a test drive route that duplicates all driving conditions. Slow speed smooth and rough surfaces, high speed smooth and rough surfaces, stop and go, and loading the left and right-side suspensions. Typically, this is 8 to 10 miles. If the concern is not duplicated after the test drive and performing the manufacturer's inspections, we should have a process that the Technician follows to limit out of bay time. As you know there are a lot of moving parts here, and most Service Managers do not have time to set up the process with appointment coordinators, BDC, Advisors and Technicians. This is where M5 Management Services Consultants thrive. If you are continually fighting this battle, give me a text, email or call, we will be happy to help you set up your Quality Process. The Parts Team - Is Yours Ready For Game Time? In previous articles we asked the question: "Are you sure that what you think you have in Parts Inventory Value is correct?" Since most dealerships today have more Net Working Capital invested in their parts inventory than anywhere else in the business, it's time to treat it like the valuable asset it is and not treat it like a dusty library in the back of the building. You get what you pay for... There are 4 key factors involved in making sure your investment works well for you. Hire qualified people. This goes for management and staff. You don’t have to have the most experienced Parts Manager from the start, but be sure that person can be brought up to that level. Quality is more valuable here than quantity. Good people can produce much more quality work than weak ones do, and you rarely have to go back and do their work over again, and again, and again. Turnover is very expensive, resulting in lost customers, reduced efficiency in new hires, and overall disruption of daily routines which becomes disturbing to existing staff. Take the time to hire the right people rather than the first warm body that comes through the door. Invest in training once you’re sure that you have a winner! The best trained people do the best job. Compensate your people fairly. Set up payplans that are achievable and affordable for the dealership. Once you’ve done that LEAVE THEM ALONE! There’s nothing more disruptive than the payplan of the month. Theft is usually stimulated by feelings of inadequate pay for work done so be sure that your people can work for what you can afford. Provide a quality DMS which has a good Parts Inventory Control module. Don’t just shop price when looking to replace or upgrade. Get references and talk to them. Some of the newer PC-based systems can be very effective and represent good value, but others are built on old technology and will not protect your investment properly. Interview the managers that are using the system, not just the Dealer and Office Manager. Don't just go by the salesperson's demo. Talk to a professional who uses it every day, and if the salesperson doesn't want to give you at least 2 co-operative references, you'd best be careful about the claims being made. Equip your Parts Vault with good storage systems, quality lighting, and secure doors and counters. The easier it is to find parts, the less time it takes to sell and deliver them. If your parts warehouse looks like a child’s bedroom after a sleepover, then you’ve got a problem. That’s your money lying on the floor, hanging from pipes, and stacked up in the corner. Sometimes this can be caused by inadequate or old style bin systems, resulting in having more parts than can be put away properly. If this is the case, invest in some modular storage systems which incorporate high density drawers as well as product-specific shelving for items such as tires and batteries. There are some very creative products out there today that make brick and mortar unnecessary.....up to a point. Dim lights make things hard to find. Be sure that overhead lighting is even and bright enough to make reading small print on labels easy. If it takes too much effort to identify a part on the shelf, then mistakes are going to be made. Parts put up in the wrong location become parts that can’t be found, resulting in stalled jobs in the shop and needless Special Orders for parts that should have been found the first time. Security needs to be everyone’s concern. Doors to the warehouse should only be accessed by parts personnel and dealership management. Do you have a Key Management system in place? Do you know who has the keys? Are dumpsters adjacent to the shipping and receiving doors where parts could be hidden for retrieval later on? Are those doors open and uncontrolled during the day? Who has access to what functions in the DMS? Can they control cost and sale prices? Can they minus a part out that they just put in that dumpster? Can they conveniently avoid receipting a part that they want for themselves? Managing a profitable parts department takes more than selling parts over the phone and at the counter. It takes good Inventory Management Skills, good People Skills, constant upgrading of Professional Skills, quality resources to work with, and retention of good people. How well does your team stack up? Written by Jim Richter Do You Have a Goal? "Let's Talk Production" Technician Production Let's imagine you take trip to a destination you have never been. You embark on this journey without any sense of the direction or even a map to show you how to get there. This same type of situation occurs in a large majority of service departments every day. The service staff shows up for work without any goals or narrative of what defines a good day. What is technician production? Technician production is the measurement of billed hours as a percentage of hours worked. For example, a technician who works an eight (8) hour shift and bills ten (10) flat rate hours is measured as 125% productive. Technician production objectives are one of the very basic foundations of any automotive dealership's service department's profitability. Production management remains one of the most under used and mismanaged controllables in the industry. We must ask ourselves why this happen. Why would we start each month, each week, or each day without a clear defined goal or what we must do to achieve our production goals? When this occurs, it is usually due to the following. Service management does not: Understand technician production Know how to establish production objectives Know how to review or track the set objectives Know how to hold the staff accountable for their production performance Know how to encourage and/or motivate the staff to strive for more while keeping morale up Keep in mind the inventory of technician billable hours starts to expire once the hands on the clock begin to move; once this inventory of hours expires they can never be recouped. This is no different than when an airplane takes off with empty seats; those empty seats can never be sold once that flight takes off. Technician Production Objectives Technician production objectives are "realistic" flat rate hour goals established to improve technician efficiency and shop productivity. When technician production objectives are established correctly there is generally an increase in daily billable hours and consistent work flow. They also create a process to consistently monitor and adjust your department's shop loading. Production objectives are normally introduced when implementing some sort of advanced production (i.e. simple support or lateral support, etc.) but can be utilized in any shop structure. Let's consider that production objectives already exist in every shop. Ask any flat rate technician what constitutes a good day for them and they will tell you the number of flat rate hours that makes them feel good. Now with this in mind, would it not make sense to take what the technician considers a good day and match it to what the department needs and have a process in place to manage toward the collective objective of the shop? Considering how much the implementation and management of production objectives can have on a service department, why hasn't every shop performed this simple improvement? When I have asked Service Managers if he/she is tracking technician production, I will generally hear one of the following answers: Yes, they already track production But not with established performance objectives There are few if any technician meetings to discuss production performance No I have been meaning to do this When a Service Manager answers no, I ask, "Why not?" The new and used sales departments have been doing this for years with great success. Here are some of the excuses I have heard over the years: Tracking production will not help my shop I do not have time To run the report To meet with the technicians every morning There are here eight (8) hours a day so I expect eight (8) flat rate hours or more This would work if all technicians were created equally This would work if there was equality in the dispatching Accurate technician and skill group match Favorites are being played Proper shop loading Loaded for production, not vehicle count Production loading to match technician skill groups and performance within these skill groups o Staff members scheduling work to fit their comfort level, not the department's capacity If you do not think you have a problem in this area, mystery shop your service department on a Saturday afternoon for what should be a same day repair. You may be surprised at excuses you get as to why they cannot get that vehicle in for repair and/or service. My shop is "unique", it just will not work, you do not understand Your shop is not "unique" You need customers, sales and staff to perform these repairs o Service departments around the country fight the same challenges. It just depends on management and the staff's conviction to succeed. Lose the excuses. Implementation and Management of Production Objectives Implementation and utilization of production objectives will improve the production of your staff. A consideration for thought-- increasing production in an 8-10 technician shop by 10 percent will have the same effect as adding one technician. Establishing Production Objectives essentially involves determining the average flat rate hours produced by each technician over a given period and applying a performance increase. This performance increase must be realistic and agreed to by service management and the technicians. Service management must interview each of the technicians, listening to their concerns regarding roadblocks and determine solutions to help them achieve the agreed-on production objectives. While production objectives are an effective way of increasing shop production, capacity, and vehicle through-put, objectives will require consistent attention by service management. For production objectives to be highly effective they will require service management review and discussion with the staff daily. Daily production meetings are necessary. Human beings are goal-driven by nature and will almost always strive to exceed every goal that is set in front of them. When production objectives are implemented properly, they will improve employee loyalty, satisfaction, and retention. The technicians will no longer feel as if they are the only ones that worry about how many hours they produce--they realize they now have assistance in helping them accomplish their personal financial needs. Remember, technician production objectives must be implemented "with" and "for" technicians to really be effective. Production objectives will not only improve shop loading but department forecasting. One question I always ask management in every store I go into that is not tracking technician production is how they provide an honest realistic forecast based on statistic data. Written by Kemp Evans I must ask: How much do you want to make this year? This is the kind of process improvement M5 Management Inc. specializes in. If you have any questions on this or any other service department process improvement call me at (205) 603-1996 or email me at email@example.com.