AKRON (July 22, 2002)—Laminating important and frequently used service information saves time throughout the service department.
What´s more, laminating information can impress customers up front at any tire dealership or service shop. Here´s why:
All too often, technicians waste time because they forget the details of operating a piece of equipment or using a special tool of one kind or another. The tool or equipment in question usually is easy to use-provided you have instructions.
The reason a tech struggles with it-or worse yet, damages something-is that the operating instructions are unreadable or missing.
Perhaps only remnants of the instructions remain. Remnants mean there´s a tattered, greasy, nearly useless fragment of paper or cardboard under the equipment or inside the tool kit box.
Too many times, I´ve seen eager techs assume that a tool kit works this way, when in fact it works the opposite of what they expected. Unfortunately, a headstrong tech might persist without the right information, misusing and damaging the tool kit and/or the vehicle.
For this reason, I´ve been a ``laminator´´ fan for a long time. Over the years, I´ve had the local print shop laminate almost two dozen items from my own toolbox.
If it´s an illustrated quick-reference card or sheet for a special tool kit, it stays in the case with that kit. Or it stays in the same toolbox drawer with that tool kit. Either way, critical information is always available.
Often, the chart or illustration that I have laminated is as much for inventory as it is for operation. Some very good tool kits are sometimes nothing more than a box of loose parts. For example, there´s a ``main´´ tool accompanied by 10 little adapters.
When you laminate an illustration of the kit´s contents, you know what´s supposed to be in the kit. At a glance, you can see if you have the appropriate adapter for this car or that truck. Owners and managers, think how much time this would save the techs in your store.
How many times have you seen techs and/or the service manager arguing about the adapters for the brake lathe or wheel balancer? How much money´s going out the window while they´re debating which adapters were or were not present with that machine?
How big a deal would it be to photocopy the relevant pages from that lathe or balancer´s operating manual? Next, laminate these pages and punch a hole in the corner of each one. Then tie the pages to a convenient spot on the lathe or balancer so they can´t ``walk away.´´
Now techs have no excuse for not knowing what the adapter situation is. Meanwhile, file the original operator´s manual on a shelf in the service manager´s office.
You can take the same time-saving approach on a variety of instruction and quick-reference sheets for diagnostic equipment and various testers around the service department. One shop owner I know saved time and confusion by laminating a wheel weight chart and hanging the lamination on the side of the wheel balancer. He also laminated quick-reference charts for drive-axle nut torque and hung a chart in each bay.
Air compressor tanks should be drained often, especially in humid climates, to prevent moisture from damaging the tank and the entire air system. What´s more, compressor oil should be changed periodically.
This same shop owner hung a laminated reminder chart on the compressor. At a glance, he and his crew can see when these maintenance steps were last done.
You know how many lifetime warranty cards and papers you´ll handle these days. Think about how professional it looks when you hand the customer a laminated warranty card.
So how much does it cost to laminate a piece of paper? For reference sake, laminating an 8½-inch x ll-inch sheet at my local print shop costs $1.79 for a 3-mil lamination, $1.99 for the sturdier 5-mil lamination.
For shop use, I recommend the 5-mil lamination. It´ll last forever and you just wipe it off when it becomes greasy. Furthermore, experience shows that a laminated piece of information is more difficult to misplace than a plain old piece of paper is.
For your information, my friend decided to do laminations in-house and bought a high-quality, refurbished laminator for $250 from Jackson-Hirsh, a Northbrook, Ill., supplier. If you can´t locate a laminator locally, contact this company at (800) 828-5053 or [email protected]