Fixed Operations – A professional appearance matters

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Fixed Operations – Appearance matters. The condition of your facility and grounds gives the customer an impression of the quality of service they can expect.  In other words, upon seeing your premises, the prospective customer will many times predetermine the quality of service work they can expect.  An unprofessional appearance may cause customers to move on.

Good housekeeping and maintenance give a positive impression to most consumers.  These same qualities make a pleasant work environment, increasing worker morale and productivity.

Customer Reception -Once a prospective costumer has committed themselves to visiting your facility, make it as easy as possible for them to find the service they need. This assistance begins at the street entrance.  Easily read and followed direction signs should guide to the department or departments they want to visit. The service customer should find directional signs that will lead him to a parking area near the service entrance door.  Many customers will be driving tractor-trailer rigs making ample maneuvering room necessary.  Employee parking should be moved away from the building(s) in favour of customers having the best access.  Trailer parking should also be indicated if required.

Direct the customer through the service entrance to the reception or Service Writer’s area.  In buildings where there is a long distance between the entrance and the reception area, arrows can be painted on the floor or walls.

The service write-up are is one of the most important areas of your service department because it’s where business is conducted.  This is where the customer is greeted.  It is preferably located near the entrance door.  A Service Writer can then easily get the customer’s information, discuss the work requested and other sales opportunities.

The service write-up area should be located where shop noise will not affect “in person” and telephone conversations.  It should convey a businesslike atmosphere and be equipped with a desk or counter and a phone.  It is an excellent area in which to display technician certification and training certificates as well as departmental awards.  These help to build customer confidence.  Service specials and featured services, as well as accessory parts should also be displayed.  These let the customer know what additional services are available and often influence the customer to increase their purchases.

The service Managers Office – should be located near the warranty administrator’s office, (for dealerships). This generally requires a quiet environment where the Warranty Administrator can efficiently and accurately handle the daily customer and clerical responsibilities with a minimum of distractions.

Customer Accommodations – should include a lounge / waiting room where customers have a pleasant and comfortable pace to relax.  For safety and insurance requirements, it is much better to have customers in a lounge rather than in the shop “attempting to assist” the technicians.

The lounge should be clean and equipped with comfortable chairs, vending machines, water fountain, public telephone, clock, television and have adjoining restrooms.  Promotional items such as parts and service literature, an accessory display case and a video recorded sales messages a can all encourage additional purchases.

If you are in the truck repair business, an arrangement should be made with a local motel for accommodating customers waiting for repair completion.  May times discount rates and free pick-up service are available.   Service department personnel should be prepared to give directions to nearby restaurants.  The little “extras” lead to increased customer satisfaction.
Efficiency -The Service Department represents the largest capital investment in buildings, equipment and manpower.  With this responsibility goes the ongoing struggle to operate at maximum profit.  Building efficiency can be an important factor for increasing profitability.

Workshop Layout – A great deal of thought and experience must go into the design of a new service facility.  In workshops that already exist, observation and testing also are needed prior to reorganization, remodeling or expansion.

The best workshop layout promotes the highest degree of efficient work flow.  No matter how well the technicians are trained, how extensive the tool and parts inventories or how strong management’s desire is to rapidly complete repairs, production goals can only be met by effective work flow and space utilization.

Workshop efficiency is achieved with free and unrestricted vehicle movement both inside and outside the approach areas.  Customer parking (discussed earlier) should be located close to service entrances and exits, but where it will not interfere with vehicle movement.  Ideally, technicians will lose minimal production time when they are moving vehicles.

Service Bay Utilization – utilization as a general rule, is calculated based on ½ bays/stalls per technician per shift.  For example: ten (10) first shift technicians should have about twelve (12) work stalls.  When a part is not available, it allows space for jobs which cannot be moved out of the bay.  Technicians can easily move to the next job in another stall and continue generating income.

Workflow efficiency is maximized by:

  • Tools and equipment located close to or within the work area.
  • Parts counter located near the largest number of technicians or an order and delivery system to deliver parts to a work area.
  • Two-way communication between the Service Department and Sales / Rentals etc.

Housekeeping – Good housekeeping and adequate lighting and ventilation enhance the working environment.  Clean, light-coloured wall paint can improve the atmosphere and generate pride in the operation.  Colour is also a maintenance cost saver and contributes to safety by emphasizing neatness and cleanliness.  It creates customer confidence as it projects a professional appearance.

A professional appearance helps attract customers.  Proper planning and operation of the facility helps to generate Service Department profit.

Brad Porcellato