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Repair Shop Advice

Keeping Your Shop Running Smoothly in the Midst of Chaos


July 28, 2021

We recently surveyed our customers to ask them how busy they are compared to 2019:

  • 60% said they are seeing more cars than in 2019
  • 25% said about the same number of cars
  • 15% said they are seeing fewer cars than 2019

When you consider the fact that many shops are down one or more technicians compared to 2019, it’s shocking that 85% of them are handling as many or more vehicles than 2019.  Many shops said they are having their best months ever right now.

It’s a problem that many businesses would love to have.  But when your processes are already running at full speed, small problems can quickly become bigger ones.  Delays can lead to vehicle backups, longer working hours and eventually lower productivity levels and technician burnout. The alternative is to reach out to customers with scheduled repairs and push those repair dates out.  That’s not a great recipe for customer satisfaction, and it can do long-term reputational damage.


Here are three things you can do keep your shop running smoothly and avoid that uncomfortable call.

Organize Your Shop Floor for Efficiency

Things can get messy when your shop is too busy.  Unfortunately, that applies to the shop floor, too.  And while it might seem like there’s “just no time” to organize work areas, the reality is that all of those minutes your technicians are looking for misplaced tools or moving vehicles around the shop can add up to hours of lost time.

That’s why it’s important that each day starts out and ends with an organized workspace.  Ideally, nobody should have to search the shop to find where someone left a tool (or where someone put a previously delivered part) during the day.  Everyone should know where vehicles can and cannot stay parked while they’re awaiting parts or attention.  And if you find that a lack of lifts, laptops or other equipment is slowing you down, there’s no better time to take care of that than when you’re bringing in the extra revenue that comes with a very busy shop.

Have a Backup Plan for Parts

Manufacturers of all types are having trouble acquiring shipping container space, and it’s delaying delivery of critical materials. Auto parts manufacturers are getting hit by these delays.  And because material suppliers often wait until a delivery failure is inevitable before alerting the auto part manufacturer, the delays are unpredictable, with parts suppliers sometimes receiving only a few days of notice that material shipments will be weeks late.

A story published in May showed how a shortage of fishing line slowed down oil filter production, and a shipping delay on a 12-cent part stopped production of a major part assembly.  And the Commercial Carrier Journal is reporting this month that fleet mechanics are spending hours tracking down some parts, and part hoarding is making it even worse.

Of course, it doesn’t make sense for you to buy every part you might need over the coming months.  But there may be cases where it does makes sense to buy several of a frequently used part ahead of time.  It’s also probably a good idea to have a backup plan in case your supplier does end up backordered on a part you need for a major repair.

Invest in Your Culture

Hiring technicians has been a challenge for years.  It’s only gotten harder over time, and it’s not expected to get much better in the near future.  Unless you’ve decided to permanently downsize your workforce (and your car count) going forward, now is as good a time as any to start investing in new talent.

“Investing” doesn’t necessarily mean hiring anyone yet.  Due to the intense competition for technicians, only some opportunities will get filled.  Many shop owners make the mistake of thinking that compensation is all that matters to technicians. But the best and the brightest techs are looking for an opportunity at a shop that has a clean work environment, a positive culture and most or all of the equipment they need to get their job done efficiently.

Working to improve your shop in any of these fronts will help you attract talent.  But you’ll see benefits long before your shop attracts the attention of potential new hires.  These “shop upgrades” will help with employee retention, job efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Want to learn how Repair Shop Websites can bring more of your favorite repairs into your shop?  Call us at 855-294-6397 or email us at Team_RSW@RepairShopWebsites.com.