Shop management system production workflow timekeeper feature helps increase productivity and profitability.
Shop management software providers point out that this feature, which is typically available as part of the software solution, is gaining in popularity for the inherent benefits it offers.
In a nutshell, the timekeeper or punch clock tool allows the shop manager to create a work schedule for the technicians. Each technician can see what their overall day holds and perform the scheduled tasks. Using a tablet or laptop, the technician indicates when the work order has been started and when it is completed.
However, some managers fear that this planning tool may not be well received by technicians. “In some cases, the consequences for certain employees can be disastrous, possibly even leading them straight to burnout. Many companies are now opting for project-management based concepts, which encourages responsibility and recognition. It is a new approach to obtaining commitment or buy-in rather than dictating performance,” explains Karole Lauzier, vice-president of marketing for VL Communications, which markets the AB Magique platform.
GEM-CAR’s Mathieu Brunel adds that the timekeeper feature should not be seen simply as a tool for measuring performance, but as a collaborative platform where the technician is in constant contact with the service advisor team.
“The whole team can follow the progress of the work,” explains the GEM CAR president. If there is a delay, because of a backordered part, or if additional work needs to be added after disassembly, the technician can chat with the service advisor. The technician can also enter billable items such as materials or time for cutting or welding directly on the work order.
Hours Worked and Billable Hours
The person in charge of scheduling has access to the times required to complete the various tasks. All vehicle repair shop owners are aware of the benefits of completing jobs ahead of schedule, as that additional profit goes straight to the company’s bottom line.
“It’s not about going too fast,” points out Mathieu Brunel, “however, a skilled technician who completes a job faster than expected may well go on to do unassigned but productive work, which is another benefit to the shop.”
As Mrs. Lauzier points out, AB Magique’s timekeeper tracks the earnings generated by each individual technician or by service bay. This can be indicative of certain training needs, for example. Or in some cases, if technicians are struggling to complete jobs on time, it may simply mean that the shop needs additional resources or a lighter schedule.
CARRUS technical specialist Denis Gosselin likes the flexibility offered by the timekeeper feature. The technician can review the daily schedule and, if time is available, he or she can move on to another task.
“When used effectively, the timekeeper tool will make the technicians more accountable. They will see what needs to be addressed, take the initiative and be able to solve problems quickly with the service advisor. Optimizing workflow is also about knowing when to assign specific tasks to the most relevant technician.”
Our partners also mention the fact that charging for small parts added during the work, a clamp here, a zip tie and a bolt there, has a sizeable monetary impact over the course of a year. Too often these ” goodies ” are omitted from the invoice.
A very interesting element added by Denis Gosselin is that the gains in productivity and profitability, measured for each technician, could be linked to a bonus program for employees.
“A technician who completes work flawlessly on a regular basis and faster than expected, or who adds additional but necessary work to the assigned vehicles could be awarded a bonus,” he explains. “With this approach, the customer is well served, the shop makes additional revenue, and the technician is encouraged to perform to a high standard.”
Consequently, in addition to being an effective management tool, the timekeeper module can improve shop profitability as well as those of the team members.