There is a penalty in football you may have heard of called “too many men on the field.” It’s enforced when one team has more than eleven players on the field. Having more than eleven players would give one team an unfair advantage over another, therefore, it is not allowed. But what if the team only has ten, nine, or eight players on the field? Is there a penalty then? The answer is no. The team is already penalizing itself for not having the maximum number of players on the field.
Staffing levels in our business have always been a topic of discussion. We are often asked, “how many Advisors should we have,” or “how many Technicians do we need”? I would challenge you to ask two different questions:
- How many Technicians are scheduled to work today?
- Of those scheduled Technicians, how many are here?
One thing our company recommends is to track Technician attendance in our clients’ stores. We call it calendar utilization. In short, the formula is days worked vs. days scheduled. Here’s a basic example:
So how do you improve this number? To do that, we need to dive a little deeper. Let’s use the same scenario but with more details.
In this case, we used the period of one month. During the month, we were closed for one holiday, so our technicians are scheduled to work 21 days. Jim and Bill both have a day each planned for vacation, and Bill also had 2 days of training he attended. This example is typical of what we see.
Some shops might have several long-term employees who are eligible for more vacation time or possibly several Technicians going to training. On average, we see this number at 89.6%.
The elephant in the room is sick days or any other reason for missing work. In the example above, we have a total of 5 sick days. But what if only 5 days were reported to HR? Our clients are usually shocked to find out that 5 days are sometimes more like 15 days.
Consider this, if a technician goes home at 8:30 am because they are not feeling well, does your manager log that as a sick day? If a technician takes the day off to go to a dentist appointment, is that time off tracked? If school is closed and the technician stays home to watch their child, is that time off noted?
Let’s say all three things happened. How does that affect your calendar utilization? Look below; it drops it by 2.5%.
Most shops don’t adjust their schedules when a technician misses work. Not to mention any carryovers they had been working on that will wait until they return. In a 10-technician shop, a decrease of 2% in calendar utilization can cost the average shop $3,000 to $4,000 a month in parts and labor gross profit.
I’m not advocating for not allowing technicians to take time off. What I’m challenging you to do is measure it. Only after you are truly measuring something can you determine if your changes improve anything.
Who knows, you may consider offering a bonus to technicians that have a calendar utilization over a certain percentage. Or what if technician rates are increased when they have perfect attendance? My daughter gets an award for attendance in school; maybe technicians should get one too.
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