Running a successful heavy duty shop is a team effort. But let’s face it: unless your technicians give the job their all, you won’t have a productive shop. Getting jobs done and keeping customers happy all relies on efficient, productive techs. Buying cutting-edge equipment, automating, and putting procedures in place so your shop can run like a well-oiled machine is important, but don’t forget the human element. We’ve put together 9 steps you can implement to increase tech productivity and, by extension, your shop’s productivity and profits.
1) Make Them Comfortable
A comfortable work environment is one of the simplest ways to increase tech productivity. If your mechanics are at ease, they can breeze through jobs quickly and efficiently. Start by keeping the temperature in the bays as stable as possible. Heat them in the winter and cool them in the summer. When techs stay reasonably comfortable, they can concentrate on their work better.
Making techs comfortable includes providing breaks and a relaxing place to take them. A comfortable employee lounge gives all staff a place to unwind temporarily during the day. Taking some time to hit the reset button before moving to the next job makes techs more productive. Plus, taking breaks together gives your whole team a chance to build relationships which helps them work together better as well.
One last thing: outfit the breakroom with comfortable seating and a fridge. At the very least, bring in a vending machine that dispenses water and energy drinks. In all types of weather, it’s important to your techs’ productivity to stay hydrated. In addition to supplying cold drinks, many shops also equip their employee lounges with coffee makers and/or hot beverage machines, so techs have access to tea, cocoa, and even hot soup during the colder months.
2) Increase Tech Productivity with an Attitude of Gratitude
Appreciation is underrated as a motivator, but two short words can go a long way to increase tech productivity. Say “Thank You,” and get in the habit of doing it a lot. Find things to appreciate your team for and then thank them. Your gratitude will show your techs how much you value them and it will inspire them to do more.
3) Encourage Communication
Communication is key in heavy duty repair shops, so it’s essential your techs know they can come to you with anything from a problem to an idea. It will help build a relationship between you and your techs, but keeping an open-door policy isn’t enough. You must also set an example by being clear and consistent in your communication. Some heavy duty shop owners and managers like text and email because it puts everything down in writing to ensure there are no misunderstandings. A combination of talking face-to-face and communicating electronically is a great way to stay in touch with staff, encourage feedback from them, and increase tech productivity.
4) Value Techs’ Opinions
One of the three factors that motivate people to be productive is the need to feel important. Asking your technicians for their input fills that need, but it does more for your shop than increase tech productivity. Your techs are a valuable source of great ideas. Ask them for their input on bundles, services, or specials your shop could offer. Inquire if they have ideas about how to make the job more efficient or enjoyable. The creative ideas they come up with may surprise you.
While you’re at it, you should also have them outline their processes for doing common jobs like oil changes or replacing wheel seals. You might find that someone on your crew has a killer method for blazing through those tasks. Make their technique the official procedure all your techs follow.
5) Expect Techs to Deliver
Your techs will be as productive as you expect them to be, so set the bar high and give them the space they need to succeed. If you only assign one truck at a time to every tech, that’s where their productivity will stall. Instead, to increase tech productivity, assign scheduled jobs to the techs who are experts in the repairs and services that need to be done and dole out walk-in work accordingly, as well. Then, trust that everyone can and will schedule their own workflow to meet the demands. What’s more, techs should always be busy. Turning wrenches is first priority but if any technicians have downtime, recruit them to help out in other areas such as inventory or shop organization until they’re needed in the bays.
6) Hold Them Accountable for Increasing Tech Productivity
If you’re going to expect your techs to deliver and give them the space to do it, you have to hold them accountable. It’s an aspect to increase tech productivity that benefits both the technicians and your heavy duty shop. Some shops have implemented a tiered payment system for techs that gives them some control over their earning power and, in turn, makes them accountable for how productive they are. For example, you could guarantee a base hourly wage for maintaining 100 percent productivity week to week, but techs who hit 110 percent and maintain that level could get a $75 bonus. Additionally, the bonus amount goes up as productivity increases.
Of course, you can’t let missed goals or slip-ups slide. We’ll talk about how to handle mistakes in the next section. First, though, it’s important your techs know you’re monitoring their performance and productivity and that they’re accountable for those issues. Encourage them to self-monitor, too. Some heavy duty shops use gamification to track productivity of individual techs and the team as a whole so everyone is always aware of how well they’re doing.
7) Handle Mistakes Gracefully
Having procedures in place can minimize mistakes, but there’s no way to avoid slip-ups completely. How you handle mistakes when they happen can make all the difference in your team’s motivation and productivity. Rather than losing your temper over the mishap and shaming the responsible tech, make it a teachable moment. Analyze what went wrong and why it happened. The mistake could have been caused by one small oversight, outdated or defective equipment could be to blame, or you might find a larger problem in your process. Maybe the tech in question simply needs more training, and we’ll cover that next. Every instance will be different but, whatever you find, showing your crew the value of learning from mistakes will increase tech productivity in multiple ways.
8) Treat Training as an Ongoing Process
Hiring ASE certified technicians is practically essential these days, and doing so will ensure your shop is staffed with skilled personnel capable of meeting high productivity goals. However, there’s always room for improvement. Training should be an ongoing process in every heavy duty repair shop.
You can approach training in many ways. You could encourage or even require techs to continue their education. Of course, if you make it a requirement, you could also cover all or part of the cost of classes or seminars. Another way to incorporate training into your shop’s culture is to hold a training session each week or once a month and focus on issues that your team needs help improving. Bring in an outside pro or put one of your own experts in charge of teaching his fellow techs a technique he’s mastered. Approaching training that way will not only increase tech productivity, but it will also build morale and encourage teamwork among your crew.
9) Increasing Tech Productivity by Making the Job Easy
Many of the steps on this list involve behavior and attitude, but there is a tool that can increase tech productivity by making the job easier. Fullbay can be used to assign and claim jobs, clock in on service orders, make notes on the SO during a job, and it can even be used to invoice the customer, and take payment when a mobile tech is out on a service call. What’s more, Fullbay makes shop owner and manager jobs easier by tracking techs’ time, among other things. That info lets you see who’s productive and who might need more training in certain areas. Plus, Fullbay is Cloud-hosted, so you and your techs can access it anywhere with a smartphone or tablet. Want to see how much Fullbay can increase tech productivity in your shop? Just fill in the form below.