Measuring technician efficiency is an excellent way to gauge the training needs of your techs.
As I crisscross the country, one of the common questions service shop owners and managers ask me is, "How do I estimate what kind of training my technicians need?" If you constantly monitor their performance, your techs' training requirements will become self-evident.
There are excellent reasons for hiring consultants to evaluate your business—including your workers. Suddenly becoming accountable to an impartial third party (the consultant) can do wonders for an ailing business.
But you don't need to wait for the consultant to arrive before beginning to gauge worker performance. All it takes is an investment in high-quality shop management software and the dedication to use it faithfully.
You see, good shop software contains programs that track technician efficiency for you. Just discipline your techs to log in what's commonly called "flag time"—the amount of time they actually spend working on vehicles. You can think of flag time as the equivalent of a racer's elapsed time in the quarter mile or lap time on the big oval.
It's a direct, unflinching measurement of techs' performance on each job you assign them.
OK, so how is efficiency measured? Efficiency is the ratio of labor time billed to labor time spent fixing the vehicle. For example, you charge a customer one hour's labor for a cooling systems service and the tech actually completed this task in one hour. One hour charged divided by one hour-spent equals 1.00 or 100 percent efficient.
Suppose a worker takes two hours to finish a task and, for whatever reason, you only charge one hour's labor for that job. One hour billed divided by two hours' flag time is .50 or 50 percent efficient.
After you implement your plan, track efficiency for at least several months. To use a sports analogy, allow everyone time to establish a batting average.
Within about six months or so, you'll see patterns evolving for each technician.
For example, one tech may consistently show excellent efficiency on undercar repairs, but poor efficiency on underhood work. A worker who turns high efficiency numbers on air conditioning and electrical jobs, for instance, may be bombing out on fairly routine brake work.
Remember that experience shows measuring efficiency over a period of time will establish each tech's batting average for various types of tasks. So the first benefit of monitoring efficiency is that it objectively determines everyone's strengths and weaknesses.
The second benefit is it helps owners and managers assign work more intelligently without appearing to play favorites with certain techs in the dealership. For example, a faithful customer is concerned that an intermittent blown fuse symptom may leave him or his wife stranded somewhere. Worse yet, these folks are setting out on a two-week "driving" vacation tomorrow.
Your software program shows that over the past nine months, technician Joe averages 89 percent efficiency on electrical diagnostics while tech Tommy averages only 34 percent. Which guy should you assign to troubleshoot the blown fuse accurately and profitably?
Naturally, you can confidently give the repair order to Joe. The result is less stress for everyone, a happy customer and more dough for the dealership and Joe.
Now let's take this technique to the next level.
Tommy's batting average on electrical work is consistently very low. Among other things, experience has taught us that the common causes of low efficiency are problems such as insufficient training, inadequate tools or equipment, laziness or possibly nonexistent or ineffective incentive plans.
Notice that training's at the top of the list. Maybe your dealership, like many other service shops, has an ascending earnings scale and electrical work pays the best. Suppose a guy like Tommy's bugging you to assign more electrical work to him. Or you're fed up with charging two hours' labor on electrical tasks that are taking Tommy all day to figure out.
If consistently poor efficiency numbers on electrical—or any other task—don't convince you that it's time to get Tommy some specific training, nothing will. If he applies himself to his studies and good training classes don't improve his long-term efficiency numbers, he isn't cut out to do that kind of work.