Most new car service departments are slammed. A complete storm of customers keeping older cars longer, partly due to inventory shortages. Vehicles on roads that exceed the number of service bays available. Underutilized store capacity.
As a result, long waits, carryover tickets, and dissatisfied customers are the norm rather than the anomaly. Increasing capacity is important, but this doesn’t have to mean expanding facilities or hiring more technicians (almost impossible in this market). Instead, you can take a few small steps to increase efficiency and increase capacity without spending a lot of cash.
To increase capacity, you first need to know the maximum potential of your service facility. Calculate facility potential using the following formula approved by NADA: Number of Bays x Days x Hours x Effective Labor Rate = Facility Potential. In this formula, the number of bays excludes wash bays and undercoat bays. The “Days” number is the total number of days in a given month that the service department is open. “Operating Hours” are the hours per day that the facility is open. The effective labor rate is calculated by dividing the total labor turnover for a given month by the total number of billed hours. Facility utilization is optimally 100%, but should be at least 70%.
The only best way to increase capacity is to stop underscheduling. This is a people problem, and it happens when service advisors are overwhelmed with ringing phones and belly-to-belly juggling customers. They don’t want to get their head around it, so they stop dealing with vehicles.
The first line of defense is an online appointment scheduling tool that allows customers to book themselves. Note: Always audit your tools. A misconfigured tool could indicate that the store is closed on Monday.
A second line of defense, I would argue, is a digital voice assistant integrated with an online scheduling tool to handle and direct incoming calls. Digital voice assistants can stop all ringing phones and free up employees to work with customers in stores. Also, on Fridays he always reserves appointments for 5 people if the time slot is available (the digital voice assistant has no weekend appointments).
Next we’ll tackle the status call. These phones are 100% CSI-affecting, keeping employees immersed in busy work and impacting efficiency. Part of the ironclad process is asking how every team member would like to communicate with the customer, setting a specific time to update by phone or text, and following through on that promise.
Extending hours of operation to nights and weekends is another effective way to increase capacity without adding more bays. An added benefit is that more time may increase your ability to hire and retain technicians. Many people prefer a longer but fewer working week. For example, a 10-hour work week, 4 days a week is very attractive to someone who wants a 3-day work week.
Finally, remove the inefficient processes that pull technicians out of the office. Hire floaters to pick up parts, install computer terminals on workstations to get the latest diagnostic information and technical bulletins, and transition to paperless shipping and repair orders. Advanced job tracking technology can also keep technicians on track, encourage friendly competition and increase efficiency.
Service is always your best bet for stable and stable reseller revenue. Businesses that prioritize productivity and maximum capacity in the bay will earn more sales and higher customer loyalty.