“Developing a strong service process is what drives quick turn times and strong customer contact in your service department.  How you stage, tag and process equipment that comes into the department will impact not only the quality of service delivered but the overall profitability of the department for the dealership.

I like to think of a service department like a pit stop in a Nascar race.  Think for a moment of how a pit stop works.  First the car doesn’t come into the pit until the pit crew is ready with everything they believe they are going to need to get the car in and out as quickly as possible.  Time is of the essence in a race. Pit crews are keenly aware of each tenth of a second they lose – that’s 24 feet and they now have moved from 1st to second.  Because of the importance that time plays in the race, they are constantly working on better, more efficient ways to get their job done and get that car back out on the track.  That’s where process comes into place.  Everything they do has a process that they follow and constantly work to improve because they understand how time equals money in racing just as it does in our service department.

The goal in the service department is to document the processes you currently have and then work to improve those processes so you can get every second of billable time out of the shop, which will improve the profitability of the dealership and ultimately improve the satisfaction of our service customers.

One of the biggest benefits I have seen in improving the processes of the department is the sudden disappearance of chaos.  Many shops look like a forest fire with a handful of “firefighters” running around trying to put out a hundred hot spots.  Techs are running around looking for their next work order and then run outside to find the equipment hoping that it’s somewhere close.  Managers are scrambling to get ahold of customers to get approvals or trying to find out information from the parts department on backorders to complete work.  Everyone is busy, but the shop is losing money – all because of the process was either broken or not in place.

I can’t stress enough the importance moving from the “firefighting” mentality of most shops to the NASCAR thought processes.  I know that you probably think that your shop is different, your people are different, your area is different – I’m telling you it just doesn’t matter. I have never found a dealership that couldn’t be profitable if they followed the right processes.

As an owner or manager, you have to make the decision to put processes in place and then hold all of the people in the dealership accountable to following them – regardless if they think it’s the right thing to do or not.  It’s up to you to use these processes and work to improve them so they produce better and better results.”