A forum member writes:
“I am looking for input regarding weekend hours. I see most chain stores in my area now open full days on Saturday and Sunday. Any thoughts?”
One forum member responds:
“I have found — in my experience over the last 16 years of consulting to automotive professionals such as yourself — several things. One school of thought is that if you can't make your numbers Monday through Friday, you're not likely to see much improvement in being open Saturday.
“Let's face it: Ours is a tough business, and it wears our your resources (your shop and staff). Once you begin opening Saturdays, there is no going back. Your customers will benefit — and should benefit — but you will likely find yourself doing very low ARO tickets.
“I would recommend instead focusing heavily on achieving your gross sales with a keen eye on your gross profit margins on each and every job throughout the week.”
Another forum member writes:
“We have always been open Monday through Saturday. Saturday is our biggest day of the week by far — the most traffic and most dollars. If you're only open five days a week, maybe adding that sixth day will be the difference maker.
“This year we are running 28-percent higher sales and 27-percent higher car counts on Saturday compared to the average Monday through Friday. Our ticket average for Saturday is right at our overall ticket average.”
A dealership president from Las Vegas responds:
“I have heard several schools of thought on this:
“1. Open Saturdays, because that's what customers demand. Pros: It's another day of production, depending on who is working. More capacity equals more revenue and earlier deliveries to your customers. You capture more business from people who wouldn't come in otherwise during the week. The cons are that it's tougher on your people, and not being open on Saturday can also be a good way to attract top employees away from competitors.
“2. ‘Half-staffed' weekends, with only one service adviser and a mechanic. The goal here is to simply capture business that would come in so you can work on it during the week. You're answering the phone, doing light diagnostics and selling some work. It's not necessarily a full production day. If you have more than one service adviser, they can switch off Saturdays, as can the techs. This provides the convenience for customers but gives employees a break. This might be the best way to go at first — until you have enough business on Saturday to justify adding techs or service advisers to make it a full day.
“In general, I think you have to consider your team and whether you can do it in a way that will retain the best people and provide balance for them while maximizing the revenue at your shop.”
Another member replies:
“I worked decades at six days a week and missed out on a lot of family time. It's just not worth it. I do not make a habit of being open on Saturdays, nor do any of my competitors around here. I have been known to schedule work during the evening or on Saturday for a customer who really needs it — or if I'm backed up or really slow — but that is the exception and not the rule.
“The problem with working on the weekends becomes that people will start to expect it, and you will be doing a lot of oil changes and flat tire repairs instead of watching your kids grow up, which happens all too soon.”
A service manager from Bloomington, Ind., writes:
“I would say customer loyalty is a big concern as well. You never want to give your customers a reason to go somewhere else. A loyal customer will make you considerably more money than a casual customer.
“When that customer has to go somewhere else because your operating hours are not convenient for their schedule, you give someone else the opportunity to make them a loyal customers. There are ways to manage scheduling weekends without overworking yours staff by offering flexible scheduling, such as giving time off during the week for employees working weekend hours. In these cases, it isn't about gaining extra work from the employees but convenience for the customer. If you want to gain shop capacity without overworking your employees, you will have to add employees.”
The questions and responses are posted on the Automotive Management Network website, which is operated by Deb and Tom Ham, owners of Auto Centric (formerly Ham's Automotive) in Grand Rapids, Mich. The comments have been edited for clarity and brevity.