If you have ever watched racing on TV, you’ve probably noticed that everyone in the pit crew has a specific job during a pit stop. Think of your service department like a race team with your customer as the rider. When the customer drops off his unit, he will get it back sooner if everyone has a specific job.
The general structure of a service department makes up about five to seven employees such as a service manager, service writer and a couple of technicians.
The service manager should be just that: the department manager. His main job functions should include:
- Assuming responsibility of staffing the department.
- Assuming responsibility for the profit and loss of the department. This includes setting all menu prices.
- In conjunction with the parts manager and general manager, purchasing all supplies for the department and determining when bulk purchasing is best.
- Managing and monitoring the filing of all warranty claims.
- Managing and putting into place all departmental and interdepartmental work flow processes.
- Managing the use and upkeep of all departmental equipment.
- Applying a process to measure and evaluate the performance of all department employees.
- In conjunction with the GM, developing service-based promotions to increase service sales.
- Keeping up-to-date on all factory recalls and managing the unit inventory on the sales floor to perform recalls before a unit is sold.
- Maintaining a good relationship with all OEM service providers.
- Submitting billed hours to payroll and maintaining all reporting procedures to the general manager.
- In conjunction with the service writer, overseeing the dispatch of repair orders.
There are too many times when a general manager expects a service manager to perform a certain number of repair hours every month while managing the service desk. This can cause a service manager to lose sight of the high-level tasks that need to be done every day.
Service writers typically have an unstructured day. In most cases, promoting a mechanic to a service writer is not a good plan. Service writers should be salespeople with mechanical aptitudes. They should be able to multitask, organize and plan. Their main job functions should be:
- Greeting, checking in and selling service work to all customers.
- Answering all service department phone calls.
- Scheduling incoming service jobs and repair jobs.
- Maintaining all contact with customers. Only in very rare instances should the mechanic communicate with the customer.
- Keeping the service desk neat and clean.
- Organizing the parts for the repair orders.
- Looking up the service schedules for the mechanics.
- Checking all incoming units for recalls.
- Keeping up-to-date on all factory recalls and their associated parts.
- Doing new unit walk-arounds so products can be introduced to a new customer.
- Coordinating all sublet labor pickup and delivery.
The task list above centers around staying at the service desk all the time. The service writer is coordinator of the department. The service writer should be the main point of contact for any internal or external customer.
Your top level “A” technician should do nothing but work on units. This should be his sole focus. Each department needs a workhorse, and your technician should be that person. He should not always be at the top of the heap on hours, and he often will get bogged down with difficult repairs. But, he should be doing nothing else but working on units. Always give your hardest and most difficult work to your best tech.
Your “B” level technician should spend all of his day working on units. He should be at the top of the heap in weekly hours billed. He should be very proficient in service work. He should also be able to diagnose most common repair issues quick and easy.
Your “C" level technician should spend a significant amount of time working on units during certain times of the year. The “C” tech should be placed somewhere in the department where the master techs can watch over them. He should be performing simple green lane jobs and possibly be the second highest hourly producer in your department. He should be building the new units and making sure the department is clean and ready for business.
This mix of technicians can mean a lot to the overall profitability of the department. I was chatting with a dealer the other day who was all excited about having all “A” techs in his facility. While that’s great, it will eat away at your department’s profitability. A service department should have a good mix of young “B” and “C” level technicians.
Nationally, we see top level techs in the $25 to $30 per hour range and “B” and “C” level techs in the $18 to $22 per hour range. If you are paying your techs on flat rate, and you have your top-level tech burning through service work, things can get expensive.
It is important that every store’s department make sure that every tech knows what his job is and that he has time to perform that job. On paper, it might look good for service writers or managers to perform repair work and for techs to help customers, but many times this causes confusion with your clients and can lead to more headaches.
C.R. Gittere and the Service Manager Pro team specialize in service department efficiency, elevating customer service and increasing department profitability. His monthly column focuses on best practices and unique ways to get the most out of your service department. More information about Service Manager Pro can be found at www.servicemanagerpro.com.