With more and more tasks being assigned to the shop, we are faced with this question: How do we balance all the administrative demands while still managing overhead? The simple answer is always adding more staff. That may address the administrative demands, but the business owner knows that is not always an option when looking at the bottom line.
To create a successful customer experience and repair process as well as meet all the ever-growing administrative demands, we must focus on effective time management. This includes a laser focus on our goals and the elimination of wasted activities. Activity that does not produce results of an exceptional customer experience, a safe and proper repair process in a timely manner, and effective claim management should and must be eliminated. It may sound cliché, but if you fail to plan, then you indeed plan to fail.
There have been several times I have been told by my employees, “I do not have time to call my customers,” or “I do not have time to research repair procedures for every vehicle,” etc. Ultimately, it is my responsibility along with the other leaders of our organization to coach our team members on how to manage their time effectively. In doing this, we are not only setting us up as a team to succeed but also teaching a skill that benefits so many other facets of life.
Stephen R. Covey says, “Habit is the intersection of knowledge (what to do and why), skill (how to do), and desire (want to do).” I believe in order to begin the time management coaching process, there must be an understanding of these three things. If these three basic principles do not exist, there will be a cycle of micro management, frustration and inconsistent activity and results. Let’s take, for example, the customer experience and keeping our customers informed. The knowledge portion is that I need to contact my customers regularly to keep them updated on the repair status. The “why” is transparency throughout the repair process with the customer. Ultimately, the “why” is trust. The next fundamental is the skill, or how to go about implementation. How should I accomplish keeping my customers informed? Depending on my customers’ preference, it could be a phone call every other day, text messages and/or email messages. Most likely, it’s a combination of all three. The last fundamental principle is the desire. If I don’t want to contact my customers, I am going to be more likely to procrastinate or avoid communicating with them and make excuses why I do not have time to do it. If your employees are giving you excuses for not communicating with customers, you may need to have a discussion with them to determine if there is a lack of desire and motivation in how they view their responsibilities.
It is important to coach each position to determine what important functions, tasks and relationships must be accomplished and developed daily. This process should be done jointly with the manager and team member. We do not want to dictate someone’s day; rather each person should have ownership of developing the most effective plan. One way that we have started the coaching process on time management is to have our teams track their days for a week time frame.