Creating Customer Appeal on the Shop Floor
One important aspect of running a great shop is keeping an appealing shop floor. It’s got to be clean, neat and safe, says Judy Lynch, manager of collision repair design service for Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes. That’s what makes a facility attractive to customers, which then builds trust, loyalty and confidence in the shop.
FenderBender talked with Lynch about a few simple steps you can implement to make your shop floor more inviting to outsiders.
Great customer service isn’t just about having a pleasant atmosphere in your front lobby. Every aspect of your organization plays a role, including the shop floor. Having an appealing, customer-friendly shop helps to build a positive business image, and displays a commitment to quality.
Customers want to obtain a certain level of confidence that their vehicle and repair will be taken care of when they look at your shop floor. Remember that everything customers see in your shop either builds or diminishes your image. So details really matter. Having working equipment, clean tools and tidy organizational processes help to achieve that goal.
You don’t necessarily need an interesting or unique facility design to have an appealing shop floor. That’s great if you do, but it’s not critical. There are fairly easy ideas to put into play first before you make any drastic changes to your shop facility. It’s important to start by ensuring that your shop is clean and neat.
Shops should follow the 5S method of lean to develop an appealing shop floor. The whole idea is to embrace a mindset of cleanliness and organization to facilitate better productivity, safety, quality and appearance. The following five steps within the 5S process create the foundational building block of a presentable facility:
Sort: Assess your shop floor. Identify everything you have that is needed for your operations, and get rid of everything that isn’t needed. Many shops are surprised at how much floor space they reclaim when they do that. It creates a much more visually open environment.
Straighten: Find organization and placement for everything left on your shop floor once you’ve sorted. Make sure all tools and equipment have a designated place off the floor. Paint the floors, mark the placement of each department, and hang signage so people can clearly see things throughout the shop.
Shine: Maintain your facility, and ensure it’s safe for both employees and customers to walk through. Do things like install quality lighting and eliminate all walking hazards.
Standardize: Implement standard operating procedures (SOPs) that map out how technicians should operate on a daily basis. It’s important for them to follow consistent processes to ensure you adhere to the previous three steps you completed.
Sustain: You have to stick to this process continuously for the long run. Develop a checks-and-balances system to make sure all employees comply with the SOPs that were put into place.
There are a few other things you can do to easily add shop floor appeal once you get through the 5S process. Create a designated recycling center—a specific area within the shop designed for recycling initiatives. Of course, that helps avoid having trash all over the floor. But it also allows you to show customers how you recycle things such as parts and cardboard, and how you promote a green environment.
Always use parts carts to store both damaged and delivered parts. Keeping those things off the floor shows customers you respect their investment and your work. Anything you can do to prevent clutter and keep work bays tidy is beneficial.
Remember that technicians are also part of your shop floor and represent your business image. That means their appearance is really important. Be aware of their physical appearance and uniform, and make sure they always look clean and neat.
Make sure to take customers for shop tours as often as possible if you’re confident in your appearance. It’s important to spend time with customers discussing facility changes, equipment or tooling upgrades, safety initiates, green products or cleanliness in your shop. You can explain how those things relate to a customer’s repair to establish confidence in your abilities.
Having an appealing shop floor is not just for the benefit of customers. It’s helpful for your technicians, too. If technicians work in a dirty, dingy environment, they may not be able to find tools and equipment in an efficient manner. That causes them to lose pride in their work, reduce productivity and deteriorate repair quality.
Presentable shop floors promote a sense of quality. It engages employees to obtain more self-discipline for better work. That’s because people like to work in well-organized and clean environments. They feel better about themselves and what they do. That’s how you build winning teams.