All other trades and professions bill for every minute they work, including driving to and from their customer if that’s required.
Our business has evolved differently – we only get paid by the service or operation.
In oder for us to be profitable and pay great wages, we need to continue to find ways of measuring and managing our time so we get paid for all of it! A foundational concept to help us collect money for all our time is how we schedule.
We tend to schedule by car or by customer, then wait for them to tell us what they need, or what we find by the inspection process. Then, depending on how much we sell based on those two sources of information, we have a good day or a bad day selling our time.
How to schedule
A much better way is to schedule by available time and then allow some reserve time for unexpected occurrences. Available time is the time your technicians are available each day to work on cars – usually eight hours.
By multiplying the number of technicians you have by eight, you have your total available time. For example: 3 technicians X 8 hours = 24 hours of available time. When you pour water into a glass and out of line going after it’s full, water spills over.
The idea is to sell as much of your available time as possible, and this tool will help guide your day.
In the same way, when you book more work than you have time to do, it creates a mess. But because we have quiet days, weeks and months, when it gets busy, we tend to overbook the shop. This causes overtime hours (which can get expensive), vehicles not ready when promised, and a lot of stress all around.
Not many schedulers in your different software systems make this concept easy, and I hope that in time they’ll all implement this concept once they get their heads around it. The following diagram above will illustrate. It uses 24 hours of available time with a 30 percent reserve time.
The reserve time is used for a drop-in customer, extra work that was identified, a possible breakdown, or warranty work. Thirty percent is the guide for a mechanical shop.
If you do a lot of tire business or have a location close to a highway, you can increase that number because the incidents of drop-in traffic are a lot higher.
The column on the left is the estimated time it’s going to take the technician to perform the services or repairs on that vehicle; the column on the right is the available time in technician hours adjusted for 30 percent. In this case, 24 X 30 percent = 17.
As you can see, at a certain point you reach a negative number. This is designed to trigger your brain to make a decision. Do I need this reserve time for anything or can I sell it? Is my day going smoothly or have too many things gone sideways?
Of course, if you don’t need the reserve time, you’ll book something in and sell it. The idea is to sell as much of your available time as possible, and this tool will help you guide your day.