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'Just One More Job' Challenge

by Art Little

Transmission Digest Magazine
This article appeared in the October 2014 issue of Transmission Digest.

Have you gotten used to losing ? I hate to say it but, some of our transmission shop owners out there have. They pretty much have given up . All that keeps them from dying is laying down. They are used to employees taking advantage of their good nature . It is normal for them to not know how many leads the shop averages per week.You could put a gun to their head and they could not tell you where their leads came from. Work in progress is a total mystery. They have delegated that to their manager and he is the only one that can understand his system. These shop owners do not require production reports from their employees. Not important. They don't have a clue when it comes to parts. They find out what their parts bill is when they close one eye and lean back to read the parts bill from the vendor. This " tail is wagging the dog " group finds out if they made any money when the accountant gives them their P&L statement. They are constantly one step behind the money. The money is gone by the time they find out about it. That is a miserable way to make a living and the end result is another transmission shop going out of business in our industry. In this article , I am giving you guys a wake up call to tell you your shop is on fire, issuing a challenge to you and giving you the management tools and management techniques you need to be a successful owner/leader in your shop and start winning again.

I am challenging all transmission shop owners across the country to increase production in your shop by" just 1 more job" a week and put an extra $104,000 in your pocket this year. There is a simple formula to success. If your shop's average sales amount is $ 2,000 for a transmission job and you can figure out how to be more efficient and increase production by just one more job a week, you can put an extra 104,000 in the bank . ( $2000 x 52 = $104,000) The challenge is to increase production by just one more job a week and the formula above will find it's way into your bank account. Simple goal, big results. Now, this is " Extra Money ". This is on top of what you are making now. That is when the shop owner makes his profit. That is your "special time" when one more job puts the most money in your pocket. Everybody elses pockets get filled before yours. This is your time baby. You must make the most of this time and make sure that one more job gets collected every week.

Whether you are making just enough money to pay the bills or you are losing money and need to stop the bleeding.... Let's put another hundred grand on top of what you are making now in the bank , by making your shop more efficient and productive , and see how the world looks to you then. Sound like a pipe dream ? Not really. In my consulting business, we accomplish this goal on a regular basis. Let me tell you how it works. It involves helping make the shop more efficient and productive and enabling them to get " just one more job " through the production system. That's all. That becomes our mission. Every team member focuses on that goal all week. That plan immediately puts extra money on the bank and gives our clients a stronger foundation for the future. All shops are different. Each shop has its own strengths and weaknesses. The key is to put together a production plan that fits the the shop. One that makes them more efficient and increases productivity..

The first part is the evaluation. I want to look for ways to increase productivity in the shop by first looking at and evaluating the current production system and the people working in the system. I like to watch the shop operate the first week. I do not get involved. I am an observer. I take notes on productivity issues I see that week. There are evaluation forms I have the shop owner and each of the employees fill out before we start the week. I use that information to figure shop capacity. I want to know what this group of guys are capable of producing and look at what they are currently producing as a team. What they are currently producing gives us a starting point . What they are capable of producing gives us a goal.

Once I have completed my evaluation , I put a specific production plan together for the shop that will increase production and I set a goal to increase production by at least one more job a week. I am not trying to hit a homerun and double production. I set a realistic goal that can be accomplished pretty quick in most shops if everybody buys into the new plan. Once we achieve a one job increase in productivity, we set a goal for " just one more" and put a plan together for that.

Part of the recommendations I make in a typical shop might look something like this:

Team Goals

We will produce one more job a week. As a team, we need to focus on improving our turnaround time without compromising quality. The manager will have a production meeting every morning before work and set production goals for the day. Technicians will take work assignments in the order the manager lays out for them . We will make sales our number one priority. Everyone will do whatever it takes to support the manager in sales. We will get the initial diagnostics performed for him within one hour of the vehicles arrival.

No pre closing. We will work on our work assignments up to 6 pm and then shut the shop down. Road tests are no longer than 15 minutes. No personal time off for 30 days. Keep the shop clean and neat.

Organise the parking lot. Set up a designated parking area for work in progress closer to the shop. Set up separate parking areas for vehicles that are ready to go, in diagnostics, under warranty, abandoned vehicles and vehicles for sale so that we can use less time moving cars and be able to know what is what on the lot at all times.

Work smart. Communication all day long between employees helps us reach our team goals.

Individual Goals

The Shop Owner must make sure his advertising is getting the maximum results for the money he is spending. If you take a second look at your advertising strategy ,you might find that things have changed and come up with a new strategy that will find that one more job. Get a second opinion from an online advertising specialist. He will evaluate your current plan and advise you on how to get more leads into the shop.

The manager must start recording every lead so the shop has an accurate, current lead count. He must focus on his telephone procedure try to get that one more job in. Start calling back customers that did not show up for their appointments. Order parts as soon as a job is sold to keep the parts coming on time. Make sure that there are no production gaps by planning out production ahead of time and keeping everyone busy. Make sure the customers will pick up their vehicles we are working on this week.

The builder must focus on time management. Maybe we start by leaving the builder alone. We all agree not to disturb the builder unless their is a very good reason. Stay out of the building room. Managers, owners and Installers can not just walk in anytime they are bored and start talking to him. Managers can not pull him off every time there is a heat case up front. Delegate time needed to perform road test diagnostics to others when possible and have them report their findings to the builder. Everyone needs to help keep his "belly on the bench" as much as possible and allow him to build that one more job.

The diagnostician must facilitate sales. We can not sell anything until we get it diagnosed. The external diagnosis must be started within 30 minutes after the vehicle arrives . The external diagnosis should be completed in no more than 30 minutes. If the diagnosis can not be completed in 30 minutes , report to the manager and let the manager make the decision to proceed or to call the customer and sell extra diagnostic time. That will get every vehicle that comes in an external diagnosis within an hour. Be ready to take in and diagnose new work in a timely fashion . Try to keep one lift free at all times for new leads. We will diagnose a walk in, while he waits , to pick up that extra job.

The installers must stay busy. If there is a job that needs to be removed or installed , they have to be on top of it as soon as it is available. If not removing or installing a transmission, they can be helping the builder wash parts, help the diagnostician by clearing a lift, answer the phone for the manager when he is on a road test. Be the get it done guys in the shop. By making sure their work is done in a timely manner and helping other team mates do their job when idle, that will help get that one more job we are looking for.

Once the new production plan is finished , we have a meeting and I lay out the new productivity plan for everyone. When the meeting is over, everybody knows what the shop's goal is and what they need to do as a team member to help the team get that one more job in the bank. I just oversee it and make sure everybody is following the new plan and give them reports on their progress. I like to have a one on one meeting with each employee and the owner at the end of the week. Then a group meeting to discuss the results and make adjustments. That process seems to keep everyone focused. You can not make a new production plan then go home and watch tv. You have to stay on top of it.

You can't do it by yourself. It takes a good plan, a good team and a good team leader to pull this challenge off. I want to give you a little help, ( No pun intended ) and make it easy for you to accept the challenge. This month, I am offering free production evaluations for your shop, at the TransTeam website . You just go to my website and request the evaluation forms. We will mail our production evaluation form to you. The evaluation questions are designed to give us basic production information about your shop . You should be able to complete the form in about 15 minutes. Once you complete the evaluation, TransTeam will take your shops production information and determine your current shop capacity. Then, we will take a "second look" at your shop and create a custom plan, especially for your shop, that will immediately increase production by at least " 1 more job " per week and email it back to you. As an Extra Bonus, we will also evaluate your current parts costs and determine how much you can save on future parts purchases. I want you to be an informed and prepared owner/team leader and this information will give you a good place to start.

With your new plan in hand, you will know what your current production capacity is and also have a new plan for increasing future capacity. Now, you are prepared to have a meeting with your team and present the new plan to them. Be sure to let them be part of the process and ask if they have any other ideas that might help. It has been my experience that, once you set a clear goal for technicians and let them be involved in making the rules, they work hard to stay within the rules and you have a better chance at achieving the goals set. Make it like a game and challenge them to take the challenge with you. Maybe offer a bonus if they reach the goal as a team and then..... start thinking about how you are going to spend that extra money in your pocket.

$104,000 is not pocket change. Behind on your parts bill ? A new productivity plan would dig you out of that mess. Take the extra money and do what you have been talking about doing for the shop. How about getting all greedy and putting a nice boat in the water for yourself ? Or, if you are in trouble with Mama, put a new car in her parking space. An extra 2,000.00 dollars a week will buy a lot of happiness and take a lot of pressure off of you. Think about how it is now and how it can be with a little effort on your part. If you are tired of loosing being normal around your shop, do something about it. Get a little help and take the "just one more job" challenge now. Become a winner again before it is too late. We need all of the remaining transmission specialty shops to work smarter nowadays so they can stick around and preserve our industry .

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