For the month of October we are taking YOUR questions and answering them via our Blog! This week we are highlighting Service Technicians, with answers provided by our On-site Dealer Advisor Brian Clements. Let’s dive right in to the questions!
“Do most techs own their own tools?”
Yes. Most shop technicians own their own common tools. We encourage the dealership to provide specialty tools for working on the specific type of equipment their shop services. (Specialty tools would include diagnostic computers or larger wrenches for example). At times, the tools an individual owns does show how willing they are to make investments in the trade they are working in but try not to judge a tech buy his toolbox. In my experience, I have seen techs who have lots of tools but don’t have much experience in using them. As a side note, we do encourage the shop to have a small shop bag or toolbox that has very generic tools for our service coordinators in it. Most service coordinators are just starting their journey into the service world and have not had time to build up their tool boxes.
“In a shop that utilizes Flat Rates, how are techs paid for non-billable activities? Clean up, unloading trailers etc.”
When utilizing Flat Rates our technicians are paid their regular hourly rate, and unbillable time does not affect that. If the shop is using flat rating and also using our recommended compensation plan, this time once again, does not affect their hourly pay but can affect their bonus (you only receive bonuses on billable hours). We challenge our dealers to make sure they are tracking the techs time properly so we can see how much time, as well as how much profit, we are leaving on the table. This month I was in a dealership and after tracking their time we came to find out they were losing roughly $1500 per week via technicians doing jobs we would suggest a service coordinator to do. A service coordinators’ job is to take care of loading and unloading, washing equipment and even sweeping the shop, as this frees up our technicians to do what they do best- turn wrenches and produce profit!
“How do you train your service technicians?” and “Is it worth the investment to train technicians?”
There are a few different ways to properly train your technicians. The first way is your manufacturers service school. Every manufacturer has some type of technician training program, whether it is online or in person. It can be a real expense to have your employees out of town traveling and so we are often asked if it is worth it? Our response is always the same regarding training – Training your people is an investment in the future of your dealership, and in this case, shop! As products change so do the repairs we are having to perform. To make sure your shop is regarded as the best in the area, your technicians need to know how to work on the specific lines you sell. We also recommend utilizing a training contract that ensures that you are not training an employee for them to take a job somewhere else as soon as they get back from the service school.
The second way to train your techs is to train within the dealership. If you have a very experienced technician in your dealership, encourage your lower level techs to spend time working alongside your high-level employee. While some technicians have knowledge that is very valuable, not every high-level tech has a personality to train someone else. If they are open to being asked questions we can assign lower level technicians on jobs that will push them to expand their knowledge and skill sets with the buffer of the higher educated technician being available to answer questions as they arise. This form of training is not something we would suggest using during busy season. During busy season we are all working as hard as we can to maintain our 5-7 day turnaround time and while ensuring high quality.