Part I: Systems Development

Diesel Repair Shop SystemsAs the owner or manager of a diesel repair shop, do you continually struggle with getting the optimal efficiency out of your work flow? Do the same problems and errors keep reoccurring? Has your revenue flat-lined? Is your business not growing like you expected?

Every repair shop in America faces these same issues at one point or another. More often than not, they just accept these problems as just another aspect of doing business. But what most of them don’t realize, is that these problems can be overcome rather quickly by taking the time to analyze and innovate the systems and processes that run their business.

Systems and processes are developed and implemented to make sure every task in the repair shop is completed in the same way, no matter who is performing it. If your systems are not being followed, or you lack effective systems in some areas, you will never achieve the optimal productivity and efficiency required to increase revenue and grow your business.

The key to solving these recurring issues is to identify the source of the problem, and determine the cause. Is it caused by an inefficient system? Is it due to the lack of a system? Is the problem caused by an employee not following the system correctly?

If the problem is caused by an inefficient or outdated system, you must review and analyze the entire process from beginning to end, and innovate the system to make it more efficient. Take into consideration every step required to complete each task, no matter how insignificant it may seem. Even the location of the tools and the time it takes a technician to access them can make a big difference in their efficiency. Also consider the amount of paperwork required to complete each process and how many times that paperwork is handled. More often than not, you will be able to minimize the number of steps in the process, or implement new technology to make the task easier.

If the problem is caused by the lack of a documented process for completing a specific task, simply because everyone should know it, you will most likely discover that many of your employees perform that task differently. You must develop a step-by-step process for it and train your employees on how to perform the task correctly.

If the problem is caused by an employee not following a system correctly, it is more than likely a training issue. Retrain the employee, step-by-step, on how to follow the system and coach them through it, so they understand it fully.

The purpose of systemizing your diesel repair shop is to document the best methods to complete the daily procedures that run your business. They should focus on efficiency, cost savings, error prevention, and safety. Properly documented and updated systems provide managers with the ability to identify problems easier and correct them faster. They also make it easier for you to open a new location, start a franchise, transfer ownership to a family member, or sell it for its maximum value. Every aspect of your diesel repair shop should be systemized. Your employees run your systems and your systems run your business. If your entire business isn’t systemized, you really don’t have a business.

If possible, get your employees and technicians involved in developing your systems and processes. They are the ones using them on a daily basis, so their input is extremely helpful and valuable. It’s important that your employees understand why systems are important and how they affect your business. For example: Safety processes are put in place to prevent lawsuits and lost work, due to injury. Good safety procedures impact the bottom line of a business more than most employees realize; An accurate and complete initial service write up by the service advisor ensures that the correct vehicle information is documented for future use and billing purposes. This documentation saves the shop time and money down the road; Vehicle repair documentation standards will ensure that all labor is accounted for and recoverable. Repair technicians need to understand how minimizing their downtime will make the shop more profitable and their paychecks bigger.

Systems and processes need to be written into a procedure manual and distributed to every employee. The procedure manual should then be used to train the employees on how to follow the systems. When systems are followed properly, everyone benefits – employees are happier, owners are happier, and most importantly, customers are happier.

We will be posting a series of informative blogs on systems development and innovation for diesel repair shops over the next several weeks. Please visit our blog post weekly to learn more about how systems development and innovation can benefit your repair shop.

Please read Part II of this blog series; “Systems Evaluation.”