Shop Management | Operations - Service Repair

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HR, technology are the biggest issues in auto repair businesses

Tuesday, December 3, 2019 - 08:00
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Everyone is talking about the lack of personnel to select from within the industry and wondering how next year is going to fall out. Shops are also wondering what type of equipment they should be looking at and then once they start investigating the issue, they think to themselves, “I can’t afford that.”

I submit there is not a real human resource shortage; there is a human resource competency shortage. On top of that, there is a technology shortage in the shop as well. We estimate that the average shop is approximately $150,000 behind in necessary equipment and training including the addition of up-to-date computer technology that is required in a shop today to professionally and efficiently serve the consumer and fleet coming through the door.

Marry the HR issue and the Technology issue, and you have an inefficient, unprofitable and stressed-out shop.

Now what?

The facts do not lie. An understaffed shop cannot be productive enough to drive the necessary bottom line so the shop has the dollars to move forward with required future investments. An issue that must be addressed is that shop management perceives that staff are a cost to the business; therefore, they have put the shop in a position where, in reality, they are two to three people under staffed. Fact: incompetent staff is a cost to the business; competent staff is prepared to be accountable and will make a company money.

To change this, management must first take an inventory of the current staff competencies. Is the current staff trained to the level they need to be? If not, does each individual have a true desire to be the best that they can be? If they don’t have that desire, you have the wrong person in the shop. Second, does your shop have a physical and business environment where competent people would love to work? If not, clean it up, brighten it up and organize the layout of the shop so things are easy to get to and find. Third, look at what training you are prepared to and must invest in with current staff and new staff. Make a detailed list and then introduce to the individual a proper training bond. This protects the shop from making the investment in training and then the individual turns around and leaves. Career-orientated people are starting to understand this necessary step. Job-seeking people will walk away. Fourth, be prepared to pay for competency. The shop must adjust the various labor rates to reflect the competency within the shop. Do the math, the right door rate is not a huge increase to the average consumer invoice, yet it goes a long way to moving the bottom line to the right level it must be. Fifth, be prepared to look to other cities and even other countries to attract and recruit the right talent. Too many shop owners stick to their own community or city thinking and expecting the resources to be available. In many regions of the country, that is not so. Sixth, management must always be on the lookout for good staff.  It is a seven-day-a-week, 365-day-a-year mindset. Do not start looking for people only when the occasion arises. The stress factor will keep you up at night.

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