Immediately after lunch, attendees at the Ontario Service Providers Forum were treated to a panel discussion featuring some of Ontario’s top shop owners, discussing a broad range of topics including successes and challenges they all see on a daily basis across the industry.
Moderated by industry guru Bob Greenwood, the panel featured Rick Callghan of 410 Auto; Danny Parigoris of Mt. Pleasant Certigard; Rudy Graf, Graff Auto Centre; Helmuth Slisarenko, Guelph Brock Road Garage; Alan Beech, Beech Motor Works and Rob Slessor, Slessor Autoworld/NAPA Autopro.
Greenwood led the panel through a list of hot-button topics, pressing them for answers on issues like key monitoring metrics, training and monitoring programs, hours per technician goals, favourite or most profitable services offered and rate challenges.
On the topic of the monitoring of key measurables, the panel gathered was in agreement in terms of frequency, if not in terms of chosen metrics. “We monitor on a daily basis, hours per work order, parts and labour mix ratio. We try and do this on an invoice basis, to get a true read on per customer revenue,” said Parigorsis, while Beech noted a different, but equally frequent approach.
“Bob, you’ve always told us to slow the process down, and that’s constant work, and a constant challenge, but one thing we do, is review every invoice before it gets to the customer, to make sure we’re at a proper hours point, and proper parts order. And another area that was revolutionary for us, but seems so simple was monitoring, and getting a daily read on hours worked versus hours billed.
Once these measurables are known, Greenwood asked the panel what they do, what processes they use to help drive that business. “We’re a Unique operation,” started Graf. “We’re the family doctor of our client’s automobile and our techs have been with us for at least 5 years, so they all know what is expected from them. We like to give a lot of recommendations to our customers, and that’s meant we’re not dealing in peaks and valleys. We’ve got some hills today, and we’re striving a little more for that flat ground.
On a similar preventative maintenance bent, Slisarenko says its all about taking advantage of the work you know is coming through the door. “We make sure every oil change is a real inspection, and mini safety check,” he said. “In season, tire change with the storage option has been good, as it gives us a twice a year opportunity to look at breaks, which is a very profitable business for us. Our guys are not just here to do an oil change, they know that, and they’ve been taught that since day one.”
Of course, the stickiest of issues in most shops today is door rate, and although time was winding down on the half-hour roundtable discussion, Greenwood was able to get the question in under the wire. Fielded by Callaghan, he noted that at his shop, door rate is anything but a static plaque on the wall, as it is in so many operations across the county. “Usually we take the technician’s time, and their wage multiplied by a factor, and those are changed on an ongoing basis. Sometimes they go down, sometimes they go up, but the door rate is not something that gets examined on a yearly or quarterly basis. I look over them, and adjust them every month.”