AKRON (Sept. 12, 2005) — Savvy owners and managers should stay a step ahead of their employees by keeping batteries handy for every conceivable device on the premises.
This may seem like a real minor no-brainer. But the time, aggravation and lost productivity this step saves the dealership will be a pleasant surprise.
I've emphasized in many previous columns that alert, proactive owners and managers are always looking for areas throughout the dealership or service shop where time is being wasted. If you prefer to think of these time losses as leaks, then plugging the leaks can right an unstable or floundering ship. What's more, you often find waste right under your nose in places you might not expect it to occur.
Time lost to weak or dead batteries is one of these overlooked areas. Just this summer, I saw too many instances firsthand in various service departments where repair jobs ground to a halt for want of a stupid 9-volt battery or a pair of AA's. When it's clear that there aren't any spare batteries on the premises, don't dare be the person bringing that fact to the staff's attention. Everyone looks at you as if you've requested Kryptonite!
Owners and managers, there should be no excuse for batteries stalling a job and/or causing a vehicle to tie up a valuable service bay.
You bosses love to brag to me that you're so much smarter than your employees. OK, prove it by making sure they have the proper supplies and support materials (including batteries) to be productive all the time. If you think the bulbs in the service department's ceiling lights are an important responsibility, then batteries for everything battery-powered are equally important—yet often are easily overlooked.
Today, service personnel use a wide variety of tools, testers and valuable gadgets that are battery-powered. These products include flashlights and miniature inspection lights, digital meters and instruments, oscilloscopes, torque wrenches, tire pressure gauges, et al. Although some devices require manufacturer-specific batteries, most operate on commonly available batteries such as the 9-volt, AA- or AAA-type.
Sometimes you encounter devices that use the coin-shaped batteries found in hearing aids and wristwatches.
The bottom line is that these batteries are usually readily available at home centers, electronics stores and/or discount drug stores. Furthermore, those retailers sell them at very competitive prices.
I recommend that you ask each technician at your dealership or service shop to patiently inventory the types of batteries his or her tools and gadgets require. Then compile a master list of sorts of all the batteries service personnel are using. Stock up on the appropriate batteries and make the shop foreman, service manager or an appropriate staffer responsible for tending a little battery cupboard.
While you want the batteries to be readily available, you also need to be able to monitor battery consumption by service personnel. In fact, tracking battery consumption may lead you to upgrade certain battery types to rechargeable versions.
I know your techs will be thrilled to help you compile your master list and will perceive the stash of batteries as being a practical and thoughtful little perk. No one will appreciate the potential time savings more than clock-conscious techs.
Meanwhile, put a pencil to the cost of each worker's time, from the tire buster up to the top tech. Are these people most productive when they're doing what you hired them to do—and doing it efficiently?
How about when they're leaving the dealership premises to hunt down a battery for a voltmeter, oscilloscope or refrigerant scale?
A stash of batteries is just a sensible, cost-effective way to plug another time leak in your dealer “ship.”