Keeping Score at Your Shop
Have you ever wanted to write something down and couldn’t find a pen? How about when you are ready to leave your house and can’t find your keys? If you are like most people, you probably get frustrated. Now imagine if this happened to you every day. Would you find a solution to it or just keep getting frustrated day in and day out? Now imagine that you aren’t responsible for where your pens or car keys are each day; it’s someone else’s job. I would imagine the frustration level would be even greater if someone else kept losing your car keys.
Technicians in this industry experience this type of frustration on a daily basis.
Last month I wrote about how normal it is in our industry to work on a vehicle without having all the parts. Over the next few months, I am going to outline how we made a significant improvement in this area. I believe these changes have had a bigger impact on our profitability than any other single change we have ever made. Studies show that almost 80 percent of repairs in our industry need additional parts after we have disassembled the vehicle and placed a parts order. As I write that, it just seems insane to me, yet it is the reality of our industry. Some of you who have met me know that I have no hair on my head. I believe I lost most of it during the years I repeatedly called customers to tell them that their car wouldn’t be ready that day because we were waiting on another part. Without any hair left to pull out, our team started the journey on getting where we are today. We have flipped the numbers in our favor, with now around 17 percent of the vehicles we work on needing another part.
This is how we keep score. After we have fully disassembled a vehicle, placed a parts order, and mirror matched all those parts is when we draw a hard line. If, for any reason after that point, other than us breaking something during production, we need to order a part or grab hardware from a clip bin, that vehicle counts as a failure. If we assemble the vehicle without ordering any parts or grabbing in stock hardware, then it’s a pass. There have been stretches of time we have had over 90 percent of the vehicles pass. This year we are tracking at 83 percent pass to date.
Keeping score is an absolute must. If you don’t keep track of the score, you will have no idea if there has been any improvement. Imagine if you were watching two games of basketball going on next to each other outside. If the score was being kept in one game and not the other, do you think you would be able to tell which game the score was being kept? Most likely, you would see more effort from the players in that game. I would encourage you to ask your teammates what they think the current score is in regard to pass/fail before you start. We found everyone in our shop thought we were better than we actually were.
Our journey started in 2005 when I attempted to create a system that would produce these results. What I wasn’t prepared for was how much resistance I would face from my team. I have always relished the change in our industry and did not realize how my teammates favored consistency. I tried the hard way to force my will on them with little success. In 2007, I took a key member of our team from each department to a couple other shops who were doing things differently so that they could see it with their own eyes. We took a train down to Washington, D.C. to see these other shops. On the train ride back, I was amazed at the energy in the conversations, most of which I was a total bystander. Having some of my teammates see it with their own eyes was extremely valuable. After that, they couldn’t wait to change.
Getting your team prepared to make changes to your shop is the first step to improvement. If you have to force change on your team, the results will likely be lackluster and unlikely to stick. Keeping score is the second step. It’s an absolute must if you are going to track your progress and know if you’ve made any improvement. I can’t overstate the importance of that second step. Next month, I will get into the other steps we took to dramatically change our results.