Shop scheduling contributes to billions in unsold repairs (GAAS 2010)

Jan. 1, 2020
CHICAGO ? Alleviating the auto industry's headache of unsold maintenance can be traced to basic shop operations, like scheduling, says John Watt, national manager of CERTIGARD Franchised Operations, Petro-Canada.
CHICAGO – Alleviating the auto industry’s headache of unsold maintenance can be traced to basic shop operations, like scheduling, says John Watt, national manager of CERTIGARD Franchised Operations, Petro-Canada.

Watt, a speaker at this week’s Global Automotive Aftermarket Symposium, illustrates his point by looking at an average of $150 lost per repair transaction (a number that 30 percent of attendees agreed upon). When multiplied by shops in operation, more than $100 billion in sales is left at the table, says Watt, adding this number also trickles down to suppliers and resellers.

“Does anyone want to walk away at this level?” says Watt. “These numbers are way too big to be ignored.”

Often, repair shops and techs are unaware of these lost sales, instead thinking that quantity of customers is enough, he says. Using an average of 14 vehicles per day, and a daily work capacity of $4,500 for the techs on duty, nine vehicles produce $4,250 (or $472 per car) and five vehicles produce $250 of work (or $50 per vehicle).

These $50 repairs are often simple oil changes, but Watt says techs are missing out on the opportunity to properly inspect or diagnose a majority of these smaller end repairs. Not only is money lost on repairs, but these customers are driving away with less reliable vehicles and unaware they are doing so.

“The issue is not the tech’s inability to find the work,” says Watt. “What really happened with the five vehicles at $50 each is they typically got the service they asked for. The techs, too busy with the other nine vehicles, had no time to do proper road tests and inspections.”

Watt recommends that shops reschedule some repairs for the less busy days so these $50 repair jobs get more attention from the tech. He says that if a shop owner breaks down sales between busy days and less busy days, the average sales on less busy days will be higher.

“Five vehicles per day amounts to $234,000 of sales missed per year in one shop,” he adds. “All because of 10 vehicles per week that were not properly inspected or recommended for necessary repairs. All shops have to do is switch 10 cars from busy days to non-busy days.”

When a customer goes to a shop for maintenance, Watt suggests scheduling him or her for the next appointment at that time, much like a physician or a dentist.

And the unperformed maintenance issue goes beyond scheduling, Watt points out. Don’t waste technicians’ time by making them order parts. Additionally, don’t use weekday technicians to staff the shop on weekends.

He also advises that repair shops take advantage of the many training opportunities available to help mitigate this potential loss.

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