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Repair Shop Advice

Would Your Auto Repair Shop Survive the “Bus Factor”


June 25, 2019

Big businesses use something called “bus factor” to make sure they aren’t set up for failure down the road.  The bus factor is a funny, yet morbid, way of referencing how prepared you are for employee emergencies.  The bus factor is defined as:

How many people would have to be hit by a bus before this project falls apart because there aren’t enough people who know how to run it?

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The good news is that none of your employees are likely to get hit by a bus.  But unfortunately, every day there are auto repair shops that unexpectedly have to deal with an employee who suddenly can’t come to work for months; some employees never make it back to work.  This often happens during bad circumstances, like a sudden illness or injury, or a death in the family.  Referencing an uncommon event such as being hit by a bus is a way to avoid having to discuss planning for unfortunate events that lead to team members being at the shop one day and suddenly gone the next.

Although many independent auto repair shops have a small, tight-knit team, that doesn’t make the bus factor any less important.  In fact, it makes it more important.  If you’ve had the same staff for years, the odds are high that everyone has been performing their own unique tasks for years.  That means there’s very little knowledge overlap on certain tasks – and if one person was suddenly not at your shop, there would be a steep learning curve to make up for that employee’s absence.

To avoid this fate, at least two people need to be cross-trained on any critical shop task or service.  The “back-up” should also have an opportunity to practice the task or service from time-to-time, to make sure they remember how to do it and that no major changes have arisen since they were last trained.

Documentation is also important.  People do forget processes that they don’t get to use regularly, and it’s a terrible time to realize you’ve forgotten a process after the primary task owner isn’t around to remind you.  Documentation is extremely important for tasks that have a single point of failure for security reasons, such as maintaining shop books or paying staff.  Without training or documentation, a shop can easily go bankrupt while family and staff scramble to learn how to accomplish the most basic elements of business management.

Cross-training also has the major side effect of lowering stress levels.  When employees do need to be out of the office unexpectedly, it’s often because of a stressful event that has happened in their lives.  Knowing that someone is able to take over their duties at work and execute them well allows the employee to focus on getting through whatever personal curveballs life may have thrown their way without feeling like anyone is being let down by their absence.

Would your shop survive the absence of any one employee?  If not, your shop and the families that depend on it would benefit from a plan to execute in the absence of any one of your key employees. That list should include you.

To learn how Repair Shop Websites can help your shop earn more business, call us at 866-665-1605 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com.