The 3 Must Do’s” to use service scheduling tools effectively”

I was on the road again last week, attending the United Equipment Dealers Association convention.  Once again, this meeting provided a great opportunity to talk to existing customers and learn more about current industry trends. I gained insight on problems dealers are experiencing that we can address through our technology.

During the meeting, one of our multi-store customers pulled me aside. I love dealerships like his – they embrace technology and are always looking for ways to use it to improve the bottom line.  As an up-and-coming business owner, he has fought the “that’s how we’ve always done it” mentality.

He told me one of his 2018 goals is to start using our scheduling functionality, and he wanted to know the best approach for implementing our ASPEN scheduling system. I thought this was a great topic for a blog post — scheduling systems are a powerful part of any Business Management System, and I wanted to share our best practices.

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There are 3 things you must do to use scheduling effectively:

1. Use the electronic time clock for all hourly employees

Before implementing scheduling, it is VITAL that you consistently account for all your technician’s time. One way to do this is to have ALL of your hourly employees use the electronic time clock. Basically, if the time is in the system, you get paid for it. By making it a business practice you’ll get better buy-in because you haven’t singled out your techs. Make sure employees can clock their nonrevenue time, such as breaks, training, maintenance, waiting for parts, etc. (By the way, if you are not using the built-in time you should be! Tracking time manually is extremely time-consuming.)

2. Use standard jobs (i.e. flat rates) or estimates on every segment.

This is a dependency before you implement scheduling. The system won’t know how much time to block on the schedule if it doesn’t have an estimate or flat rate. In a perfect world, you would have flat rates in your system and an experienced service writer. Many major OEMs have flat rates and the UEDA also sells an OPE Flat Rate Guide, both with integration to popular business systems. (BTW, we just did a great webinar on this topic with Bob Clements.)

3. Get your software vendor’s help with configuring scheduling to meet your needs.

If you’ve never used the electronic time clock, flat rates or scheduling within your system, it would be a good idea to get training. Learning best practices will save you money in the long run and ensure proper use of the system.

I’d like to challenge everyone who has a business system to analyze their use of tools for improving shop efficiency and technician recovery.  Using flat rates, electronic time clocks and scheduling within your business system can take your shop to the next level.

Additional suggested reading: Simple ways to increase service revenue, Creating a High Performance Service Department, ASPEN Service Reports, CRM and the Savvy Service Manager