The life of a small, heavy truck maintenance and repair shop manager is anything but calm and serene. Trucks and technicians get in the way every day. Often the focus is getting trucks back on the road quickly and keeping techs satisfied in their work, all while putting out fires from customer complaints.
But consider this: if such headaches are your main focus and they get to you, your health may eventually suffer from unending stress and can result in an end to your career. At the very least it may cause you to lose business as customers sense your level of frustration and take their trucks to a competitor.
How can your shop last under such conditions?
Small Fleet Managers
On the other hand, if you’re looking after your small fleet’s trucks the owner of those vehicles may lose faith in your ability as manager. We all know what happens then, especially if the shop is not productive.
We know that the current shortage of parts is a huge problem for management. It directly leads to price increases which must be passed on to the fleet and outside customers. The shop simply cannot eat those increases, the profit margin is already too slim.
Something’s got to Give
It’s pretty clear that if the above scenarios describe your work life, something must change right away. First, realize that parts price increases are not the fault of you or your shop. Whatever is beyond your control is not your fault and not your problem. In a small shop you must pass on the increases to your customers.
And from now on, you must focus on profit for the shop. Start by examining financial statements to find out if the shop is winning or losing. You should already know the answer to that question from information revealed in meetings with the owner. So, either way it’s time to work on profit to keep the shop alive and everyone, especially owners, happy.
You Must Have Goals
Start by establishing financial goals to work toward. Make them time and outcome limited. This will give the shop targets to strive for. Use a small shop software system for increasing productivity and measuring tech efficiency.
We recommend BrightOrder’s FleetSquared which has valuable tools for tracking efficiency and identifying problem areas, such as techs who are underperforming and customers who are not making money for the shop. It will also help in establishing reasonable goals for your shop.
Work With Your Techs
When it comes to underperforming techs, consider coaching to help them improve their workflow. If your shop can’t afford a professional coach, there are myriads of books on coaching in your public library that will provide timely and interesting reading and give many tips for helping your people to strive for improvement. Techs are in very short supply, especially the good ones, so do your best to work with the ones you have and make them great. Coach them and train them to strive to be the best at their trade.
When we talk about customers who nickel and dime you, it’s up to you to do your best to turn a profit on them or kiss them goodbye. Your shop is in business to earn a profit on every job. Customers who don’t support that must be replaced. Breaking even is not an option.
Your shop is only as good as its reputation every day. If you’re supervising cheap work for cheap customers your shop will bring in more cheap customers by word of mouth and their trucks will suffer unscheduled downtime. Your reputation must reflect great work for a reasonable price. Period.
Tweak Your Goals
Keep your shop’s profit goals top of mind each month and adjust your goals at least quarterly until you reach a satisfactory level of progress. Using FleetSquared will help you to stay on track. The system contains training for techs and the shop service manager and it comes with a free 30 day trial so you get to see what it can do for your shop and your work life before you decide to buy it. It’s also affordable and built specifically for the small shop. Sign in with your email and start your free month today.