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Summer Scheduling in Your Auto Shop

We’ve discussed previously how auto repair shops deal with the summer rush and how to translate that momentum into permanent business. Summer is always a busy time for auto shops. The warmer weather and dry roads allow people to travel more for business and family vacations. Cars and trucks rack up both miles and wear and tear. Between customers getting their vehicles tuned up in preparation for road trips and travelers’ cars breaking down during those road trips, your employees will always have something to do this time of year.

Because of this auto repair shop management can be more challenging as well. Despite the fact that there’s more work to do, your employees will want to take time off like everyone else to travel and spend time with family and friends. How does your company handle scheduling challenges when things get hectic?

Keep statistics of traffic – Carefully look over previous years’ stats and look for spikes in demand. It’s always a balancing act for a manager to keep open bays without paying employees to be available when they’re not needed. Doing it right means profit. Doing it wrong means unnecessary expense – so use whatever numbers you’ve kept in previous years to detect patterns of traffic – daily, weekly, and monthly. You can use your knowledge of local events as well. If your town has a festival every third week in August, you’ll need to have more tech at the ready because your auto shop will be busy too. That’s just common sense.

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Determine micro patterns – While you know that July will be busier than April, can you predict how much busier July 5th will be than July 15th? What does an average Monday morning look like in your shop? A Friday night? Look into finding a software package that keeps this kind of data along with repair orders because once you have it, you will be using it regularly.

Build some flexibility into your recruiting process – How bureaucratic is your shop’s hiring process? Is your manager able to hire additional staff quickly? Does he have the names of anyone qualified who is willing to work on call or for shorter periods of time? Good techs can be hard to find, so it’s always of value to be communicating with the community at large. Is anyone on your staff specifically good at networking? Your auto shop management should always be looking for good prospects or you will always be having recruiting problems.

Automate scheduling – Your auto repair shop software should also be able to schedule ahead of time to better establish regular traffic. Customer reminders and appointment confirmations can be set up electronically as well. Everyone on your staff should be trained both in how to use the software and how important it is to maintain regular scheduling.

No matter how good your auto shop management software is or how well your manager plans, there will always be last-minute problems and arrangements to be made with staffing. You can limit the chaos by knowing what to expect and planning for contingencies. Summer has already begun, but paying attention to challenges today can help you deal with them tomorrow – and next summer.