Running a Shop Operations

The Key to Effective Processes

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The Key to Effective Processes

Over the past few months, I’ve written about the changes our company made in order to significantly reduce the number of vehicles we work on that need another part. I am specifically talking about after we have disassembled the vehicle, ordered all the parts and mirror matched those parts for accuracy. We have enjoyed the success of having 85 percent of our vehicles not needing another part after that point. Studies have shown the industry average to be around 20 percent of vehicles not needing another part. The steps that have already been discussed were: 1) preparing our team for change, 2) keeping score, 3) using language and terminology to shape our culture, and 4) implementing and sustaining processes. This will be the final installment in discussing the steps we took.

In the past, I discussed how important it is to keep score. Sharing the score with your team is equally important. If you came in late to your favorite sports team’s game, the first thing you’d probably want to know is, “what’s the score of the game?” The answer to that question immediately lets you know how things are going. If we don’t share the score with our team, we are leaving them with the same feeling you would have if you couldn’t watch the game. Your team is playing a game every day and it’s important they know how their efforts are impacting the score.

We’ve also learned to celebrate failure. We don’t learn very much from doing things right. However, when we do things wrong, it’s a great opportunity to learn something. When a quarterback throws an interception in a game, you almost always see him on the sideline watching the replay on a tablet so he can learn from that mistake. A healthy shop environment will let everyone on the team know it’s OK to make a mistake. The next time something goes wrong, celebrate with your team the learning opportunity that came about from that mistake. Take the time to let them know you are glad something went wrong so that you have the opportunity to discuss the changes required to get things right. Several of the greatest changes our company have made over the years has come from the result of what we learned from a failure.

We also have a review meeting every week to discuss how we are doing as a team in regard to this entire process of ordering all the correct parts the first time. We discuss our current score. We discuss any vehicles that failed during the past week. We look to see if there are any trends. The team also gives feedback on what is working well and what we can do differently to impact our score. These meetings are very brief. The max that they last is 15 minutes. Sometimes there is little to discuss and they are over in 2–3 minutes. We have worked on this entire system for the last 11 years. There have been a few periods of time where we experienced backsliding. Whenever we started backsliding, it was because we stopped having our meetings consistently. If the review meetings are not consistent, we have found that nothing else in our process will stay consistent.

This last step could be an entire book of information. We have piles of data from all the parts we’ve missed over the years. There is no contest in what type of part has been missed the most, an that is a plastic clip. The industry is no different, as study upon study has proven that the No. 1 reason a vehicle doesn’t get delivered on time is a broken or missing clip. It amazes me that the part we all miss the most is the one part that most of us stock in our building. We all have some sort of collection of clips from complex, organized bins to drawers of clips and hardware labeled by manufacturer. Yet even with all those items in stock as an industry we aren’t very good at getting the right ones. Most of our review meetings are spent discussing clips. We have to remind ourselves all the time that clips require our most intense focus.

If you are a defensive coordinator developing a game plan to play the New England Patriots, you know they are going to throw the ball to Gronk many times during the game. While you must pay attention to the entire offense you are playing against, you’d be foolish to not pay special attention to their top receiver. It has to be the same way when we are disassembling vehicles: We have to pay special attention to the hardware.

I encourage you to choose one of the steps we have taken and start implementing it into your disassembly process. I can’t imagine our business without them.

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