Monitoring efficiency is a time-honored way of evaluating a technician's output. This objective measurement of a tech's performance benefits bosses and techs, too.
Productivity and efficiency are useful barometers of a service department's overall performance.
I briefly described measuring and interpreting productivity in my last column. Productivity is labor hours sold divided by available labor hours.
In a nutshell, the productivity calculation reflects a service manager's ability to run the service department — move the repair jobs in and out of the bays.
Efficiency, however, gauges how a technician performs his or her work fixing the vehicle. Efficiency is labor hours sold divided by labors hours spent repairing a vehicle.
For example, suppose that a tech spends two hours fixing a car. In turn, the service manager charges two hours of labor for that job.
So the business sold two hours of labor for a task that consumed two hours. Two hours sold divided by two hours fixing the vehicle equals one. One times 100 percent equals 100 percent efficiency.
Ideally, each technician should produce 100 percent efficiency on every repair job. But achieving that goal — let alone doing so consistently — is much easier said than done.
Bosses must recognize the key factors that influence a tech's ability to score strong efficiency numbers on every repair job.
First, the ease or difficulty of a task has a major impact on efficiency. The easier the repair, the easier it is to turn the bigger efficiency numbers.
Understandably, familiarity usually makes any repair job easier. So the more familiar the vehicle, the higher the efficiency a tech tends to score on the work.
Second, a tech's natural ability and innate skill influences efficiency.
For example, some workers simply have better manual dexterity than others. Plus, some techs have stronger removal and re-installation instincts than others.
This means they recognize little ways to save time without downgrading the quality of the repair.
Third, practical experience, which is invaluable, varies from one tech to another. Hands-on familiarity teaches techs safe, sensible shortcuts that save time.
Fourth, some techs are more efficient because they're better trained than others.
Next, note that a technician may score greater than 100 percent efficiency on some repair jobs. However, this typically occurs on highly repetitive work that a tire dealer or service shop menu prices to the marketplace.
Many things — or combination of things — may impede a technician's efficiency.
Several commonly overlooked causes include apathy, laziness and poor motivation. Addressing these issues may test the leadership skills of a service manager or shop foreman.
What incentives could you create to coax capable techs to try harder? In the past, I have described a motivator called the sliding pay scale.
Here, the tech's hourly income increases as his or her efficiency increases. Over the years, I have heard only positive feedback from bosses who utilized the sliding pay scale.
What's more, I must reemphasize the value of ongoing training.
I regularly encounter bosses who have a ready litany of excuses for not investing in schooling for their technicians. Experience has shown — and continues to confirm — that efficiency suffers when techs lack the necessary knowledge.
Last but not least for this column, putting modern tools and equipment into the hands of capable technicians boosts efficiency. There's only so much talented techs can do to circumvent inadequate or outdated equipment.
OK, there's my brief rundown on tech efficiency. In my next column, I'll discuss practical lessons learned about both productivity and efficiency. Don't miss it.