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Resolve To Get Organized In 2019

Working in the automotive repair industry can be a nightmare in terms of time management and work-life balance. At one time or another, we’ve all gone through periods of putting in 80-hour work weeks and barely seeing the light of day, much less our loved ones. Ever walk into your shop on a day off and feel like you can’t get out of there?

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David Rogers is the president of Auto Profit Masters and Shop4D, the industry’s first AI-driven, all-in-one shop-management system that allows each component – from the point of sale to labor guides, inspections, marketing, estimating, parts ordering and even shop management – to talk to one another, improving efficiency and saving money. Learn more and register for a free webinar at shop4d.com. Reach David via email at [email protected] or toll-free at 866-826-7911.

At the start of each year, most of us make resolutions to do things like quit smoking, eat healthier, exercise more, and maybe knock out some items on the ol’ bucket list. For 2019, why not make a resolution that can help all aspects of your life: create more time!

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Working in the automotive repair industry can be a nightmare in terms of time management and work-life balance. At one time or another, we’ve all gone through periods of putting in 80-hour work weeks and barely seeing the light of day, much less our loved ones. Ever walk into your shop on a day off and feel like you can’t get out of there?

The thing about constantly feeling like you’re putting out fires and playing the role of crisis manager at your shop 24/7 is this: it doesn’t have to be that way.

The thing about constantly feeling like you’re putting out fires and playing the role of crisis manager at your shop 24/7 is this: it doesn’t have to be that way.

Gain Control the Right Way
Step one in reclaiming your time (and sanity) is to quit the victim mentality. Your lack of time isn’t something that was thrust upon you – it’s something you’ve created and something only you can fix.

During a particularly stressful day, week, month or year, we’ve all said to ourselves “something’s gotta give” – a cliché if there ever was one. And clichés are just excuses.

Right after you tell yourself that something’s got to give, ask yourself what’s going to give and who is going to make that happen? No one is going to magically make your time management problems go away by taking a few things off your plate.

That’s just not going to happen.

Everyone has their own stuff to deal with and they’re not going to bail you out of your predicament – you must take ownership of your situation and take back control of your time!

You cannot take time away from others. If you take time from your employees – asking techs to calculate their own estimates, asking service writers to go beyond their daily duties, etc. – they’ll resent you for it. And, if you take time away from your customers by doing things like occasionally closing your shop a couple hours early, you’ll damage your relationship with them because it projects a message that you don’t care about their time – only yours.

The key is not to squeeze people. If you need more money, you build more value. If you need more time, you build better structure.

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Develop a Strong Foundation
The first thing you need to do in order to build better structure is to change your own behavior.

When time management gets tough, a lot of us tend to start juggling things around or procrastinating. This course of action almost always creates more problems than it solves and doesn’t address the real issue – a lack of discipline in your day-to-day.

Our time is affected by many demands, sure. But once you determine exactly what these are, you can come up with a plan of attack on how to effectively execute, delegate or disregard every single task or duty that’s pulling on your time-sleeve.

And Build Brick-By-Brick
A lot of the time, we don’t stop to think about small things we can do that will save us time every single week. Even if it’s something that only saves you a couple of minutes during the day, that can add up to hours over the course of a month.

For example, one thing almost every auto repair shop I’ve ever been to has a “junk drawer” or “junk shelf” where random tools are stored by everyone in a disorganized manner. Whenever you need to find something from this tool cluster, it takes a minute or two to sort through all the other junk it’s lumped in with.

The solution? Clean it up! Every day you’ll be saving time and you’ll get jobs done quicker as well.

Another easy in-shop time saver you can start doing is to cut down on your phone time with vendors or sales people. Be direct and tell them what you need. Also, train your staff to always tell anyone calling for you that the only way to reach you is by email and give them an email address you can check at your discretion.

Now you’re protecting your time by cutting down on unnecessary phone conversations with people you can easily handle via email.

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Slay the Time Vampires
In addition to time bandits, another major source of productivity loss in repair shops are time vampires!

We’ve all seen a Dracula movie or two at some point, so we know sunlight is one of the better ways to dispose of vampires. As such, shining a light on your shop’s processes and procedures is the best way of illuminating your inefficiencies and getting rid of your time vampires.

For starters, grab a stopwatch and time a high-volume job your shop performs – an oil change, for example. If you are doing an oil change on a car like a Honda Accord, we’re talking 9 to 12 minutes tops. If your techs are consistently taking longer than this to get a simple job done, they’re negatively impacting the productivity of the rest of your operation and need to step up their game. They need to be trained to be more efficient and properly motivating them with an incentive-based pay plan will help as well.

Next, look at potential bottlenecks. Do all parts orders go through one person? That’s an inefficiency. Independent shops need to be structured differently than dealerships. Everyone in your shop needs to wear many hats for efficiency to be optimized.

Letting tickets pile up while you’re waiting for a single person to process the parts needed is bad for business and bad for your time management. If there’s only one individual acting as the parts person at your shop, you should remedy that situation immediately.

You should also take a good hard look at your processes.

Are your service writers asking the right questions at the counter or are they leaving things out that cause confusion down the line and end up making jobs take longer than they should? Is your staff properly motivated and incentivized to get things done in a timely manner?

Every shop has inefficiencies somewhere, but by putting quality polices and procedures in place, you can make sure your inefficiencies are minimal. Be sure to train your staff in your systems as well. Training will keep everyone invested in the process and on top of their game if done correctly.

Dele-Good to Dele-Great
A good leader knows how to delegate. Period. Delegation is critical to life at both home and work, and if you have any aversion to delegation, you’ll never have enough time to do everything you need to do, much less anything you want to do.

If you’re reluctant to delegate to other people, I strongly suggest at least trying to automate your shop with technology. Modern shop management programs can streamline every single element of your shop’s operation and make life easier for you and your staff – saving you hours of time every week!

However you decide to create more time for yourself this year, remember to make the most of it! Happy New Year!

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