How to Quarterback a Shop: A Day in the Life of a Service Manager

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A heavy duty shop service manager is a busy guy. In smaller shops where the owner plays the part, things get even busier as you juggle the responsibilities of both positions. The job may vary slightly from shop to shop. However, there are essentially 10 service manager duties that need attention every day. Dropping the ball or not following through on any of them can make the difference between having a well-run profitable shop and an inefficient shop that barely gets by.

10 Service Manager Duties

1) Yard Check

First thing in the morning, the service manager goes through the yard and makes note of what trucks are and aren’t there. Maybe some units weren’t there the night before, and some that were might disappear by morning’s light. Knowing what’s at your shop without having to look makes you look good to customers when they call about their trucks throughout the day.

2) Dispatch Deliveries and Pickups

If your shop offers pickup and delivery service, you need to have a list of what trucks in the shop need to be delivered and what trucks, including tows, need to be picked up. Remember that sending a tech to pick up and deliver is expensive. They should be turning wrenches. If you don’t have a non-skilled, entry-level employee to run trucks, you should be charging for drive time. If you’re sending techs out on deliveries and pickups, offering mobile repairs is a better solution. It’s convenient for the customer and the techs are doing what you hired them for even when they’re out of the shop.

3) Assign Work to Technicians

Within the first 15 minutes of the day, you need to get your techs to work. Once they clock in, they’re making money. However, the shop doesn’t make money until they start working on jobs. Know who’s there, who’s working, and who needs work. Don’t hesitate to assign jobs before the parts arrive, either. You’ll have to time it right, but a tech can start on a tear-down so the job goes quickly once the parts arrive.

4) Turn Repair Requests into Service Orders

One of the essential service manager duties is to take repair requests and convert them into service orders. Whether you receive requests through email, phone calls, or walk-ins, don’t procrastinate on getting them into the shop’s system. Taking immediate action keeps jobs from falling through the cracks. It also eliminates the problem of having no documentation once the job is done. Include all the info you can. Record the mileage and pass on the customer comments. Managers who used to be mechanics can diagnose issues, too. Any pre-work you can do will help the tech once he gets into the job.

5) Write Up Work

This is the part of your job where you can make the most impact setting up your techs for success to do quick, quality work. Some jobs are straight-forward and don’t require any diagnosing, like if a mud flap is missing or if a wheel seal needs work. Jobs like those, PMs, and ones that you do a lot of, should be “canned jobs” or global services. Assigning global services saves time because the tech knows exactly what to do and what parts he’ll need. Techs can get in, do the job, and get the truck back out quickly with these types of services.

Also, writing up work can include creating quick estimates for those jobs that may not be ready to become a service order yet. With the right software, you can quickly and easily turn estimates into service orders once the customer is ready. That saves time because all the essential info will already be on the estimate.

6) Audit Tickets

Every service manager’s playbook needs to include best practices like auditing tickets. Review tickets multiple times to make sure estimates are accurate and that invoices are complete. That’s especially true if managers aren’t the ones doing the invoicing. Auditing tickets gives you the chance to remove wrong or inappropriate things before sending out estimates. After the work is done, it’s another chance to ensure the info is clean and all the parts and labor are included on the invoice.

7) Work Authorization

Many orders require work authorization from the customer before they can be converted into service orders. That’s why service manager duties include creating a clean estimate. As you prepare the quote, make sure the labor time that goes on it is reasonable and that the parts markup is accurate according to your shop’s price matrices. Even in cases where the customer pre-authorized work, prepare the estimate and check it against the approved dollar amount. That gives you a chance to give the customer something in writing if the job runs over authorized cost.

8) Place Finished Jobs in the Pickup or Delivery Queue

Service managers should keep a list of completed jobs and note whether the trucks should be delivered or if the customer plans on picking them up. It’s important to make note of the customer’s credit status, too, so you know how to manage the hand-off. For example, if the job is COD, you want to have that information handy, so you know to collect payment before releasing the truck. That not only ensures you get your money, but it preserves the relationship with the customer, as well.

9) Help Your Technicians

Whether or not you were a technician in a past life, service manager duties include helping current techs. That means jumping in and helping out as needed. Whatever skills you can offer are useful. You might diagnose an issue, help determine the best way to handle a repair, or troubleshoot problems with the diag laptop. If you’ve got the background and skills, you could also find yourself doing DOT inspections and actual repairs, too. Pitching in not only increases tech efficiency but also creates a positive, teamwork-based environment.

10) Motivate Techs

The best managers do two important things to get the most out of their techs:

  1. Thank them for doing a great job.
  2. Hold them accountable.

People want to be held responsible. However, it can feel like someone’s always looking over your shoulder unless managers also express appreciation for a job done right. Appreciation can be as simple as a verbal “thank you for being an awesome tech,” or could be incentivized with efficiency bonuses. Motivating techs is easier if managers know who is clocked into work and who is clocked into a job as well as which techs are having a hard time getting their jobs done, making it vital to always be aware of your techs’ status.

Getting Help with Service Manager Duties

Just like any position in a repair shop, the service manager’s job is much easier with the right tools. Fullbay is tailor-made for helping the manager accomplish multiple responsibilities every day. It has features that create estimates and service orders, even incorporating customer service requests to help you keep track of workflow in the bays. There’s a feature that lets you check in on techs in real-time to see who is clocked in, who is working, and who is available for another job. Fullbay automates the authorization process and includes a lockdown threshold that kicks jobs that exceed specified dollar amounts back for customer approval. And, with global services, PMs, and parts and labor costs already loaded into the software, creating estimates, service orders, and invoices is a snap. It’s the tool you need to track your shop’s efficiency and make corrections as-needed throughout the day.

What’s more, Fullbay is always rolling out new features such offering direct help with yard checks, new labor guide elements, and help with parts pricing. With loads of useful features already available and many more to come, Fullbay is like having a personal assistant at your beck and call. Fill in the form below to get a feel for how Fullbay can help you accomplish your service manager duties.


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