Richard Fish, owner of five Fix Auto locations, had a problem: One of his locations had become notorious for wasting paint material. Fish sat down with the paint jobber from that location and learned that he had no idea that this was a problem—he didn’t know whether the shop was doing well or underperforming when it came to this KPI.
Fish says that is one of the biggest problems with owners of small businesses. There’s access to all of this information, but it’s very rarely shared with employees. Fish feels that most of the reports are read by the owner and then thrown in the trash. That doesn’t do anyone any good, he says. So, Fish decided that he was going to run his shops, four in Southern California and one Illinois, a different way.
“I didn’t grow up in the collision repair industry, but I had experience with salespeople,” Fish says. “They love to compete. I figured, the only way to cause any change was to measure everything.”
Fish decided he was going to measure KPIs and turn it into a sort of competition between his network of shops. He started by posting metrics in the breakroom each week. Some of the KPIs that are posted include sales, supplement rates, cycle time, length of rental, materials cost useage, CSI scores and ARO. Now, each shop could see where it stood, both individually and as a comparison to the other locations.
As soon as the information was made available and the underperforming shop saw where it fell in comparison to the other locations in the network, changes were immediately implemented. Fish says that within 90 days, the shop went from last place in paint materials to second place. FThat the shop is now consistently in first or second place for that metric.
How did this happen? The employees took notice and began reaching out to the other locations to find out how their processes were different. Fish says that the painter from the underperforming shop called the best performing shop painter and invited him to lunch to pick his brain.
“Small business owners are paranoid to share information,” Fish says. “I see it when I visit other body shops. They’re not sharing information with their staff. There’s no reason not to. When you include employees, they’re going to be more excited and prideful in the success of the shop.”
Let Your Expectations Be Known.
Fish says that his process for sharing information has evolved over the years, but he’s been sharing information with his employees almost from the time he purchased his first shop in 2005.
“From day one, I pledged to do everything I could to include my employees in all of the information that I could gather about our business,” he says.
Fish has this expectation of himself, but he also has it for his employees. If an employee is not comfortable with his or her KPIs being shared with everyone, the shop may not be a good fit.
“I let them know that they don’t have a choice,” Fish says. “It’s one of the objectives that we have at our locations.”
When a new employee joins the team, Fish shares job expectations, the mission statement of the company and gives a tour of the locations—including a look at the KPI scoreboard in the breakroom.
“I assure my employees that I want to win with everyone,” Fish says. “I figure that if someone is upset about their results, they’ll work to make it better.”
Don’t Overthink it.
When Fish first created his scoreboard—a simple white board with KPIs going across the top and the months of the year going down—he said he had to resist the urge to make it “sexy.”
“It was tempting to make some sort of scoreboard that blinks and flashes,” he laughs. “However, I feel like it’s beneficial to have it look handmade. We do it that way on purpose.”
Fish says that by making it simple, it takes less time and it’s easier for managers to look at it and track all of the information. Plus, it’s easier to make changes, which Fish constantly does.
“Our scoreboard from 2007 looks totally different than our scoreboard today,” Fish says.
Each year, the metrics are evaluated. Fish and his team then decide if any should be added or gotten rid of. Then, the scoreboard is cleaned up with new stripes and lettering and put back up.
“It’s never going to be perfect,” he says. “It’s always going to be ebbing and flowing.”
When the reports are put up, it’s the manager’s job to highlight the highs and the lows. All of the locations use a color coded system so everyone on the team immediately knows who is on top and who has work to do.
Along with a sense of pride for being the top performer, Fish also rewards the staff with bonuses. For example, he offers a CSI bonus for a number of different positions within his locations. Each month, the top-performing technician can get a $100 bonus and at the end of the year, the top tech wins a $1,500 bonus. Fish says that CSI is a big bonus category because it benefits the company as a whole.
“When it comes down to it, $100 a month isn’t a big investment when you think about all of the satisfied customers that you’re getting,” Fish says.
Annotate the Information.
It’s important that the reports don’t just become wallpaper, Fish says; the information needs to be communicated and gone over. That’s why each of Fish’s managers is tasked with the responsibility of annotating the information each time a new report is posted. Fish says that he doesn’t care how the information is getting relayed, as long as it is. All of the reports have tags on them which lets the managers know how often they should be posted.
“Before you know it, they become addicted to tracking their progress,” Fish says. “It introduces pride into the company.”