How to Increase Service Productivity

By Paul MacDonald, Expert Service Program

A service department’s efficiency is measured by how many technician hours each day can be charged to a customer or manufacturer — aka first call completes.

In a previous column, I wrote about how dispatching, technology, inventory, and pre-diagnosing service calls impact your service department’s efficiency. But my service education sessions at the BrandSource Convention in Nashville reminded me that efficiency and first call completes depend on more than just these four functions. After all, profit all comes down to efficiency and billable work.

Early results from the BrandSource Service Scorecard revealed that only 25 percent of respondents are measuring their service departments’ efficiency. If you don’t measure your department’s efficiency, you’re not going to improve it. Without knowing your service department’s efficiency, you can’t

If you’re not measuring this vital KPI now, you must start, and continue to do so. Some software programs such as ePASS and Windward track first-call completes; that’s good but may not be enough. We want to track the percentage of hours billable from the eight hours a technician gets paid for every day.

Start recording this information today. Have the person who reconciles the technician’s work at day’s end record in Excel how many calls each technician completes every day. If they are dispatched to eight calls and three of those calls are finished and ready for billing, that’s 37.5 percent. Repeat this for all technicians and calculate the average percentage of completed calls at the end of the month. A self-servicing dealer should have a minimum efficiency of 60 percent and a goal of reaching 70 percent. Don’t be discouraged, though, if you are below 60 percent; most servicers are, mainly because you have not been tracking this KPI.

The BrandSource Service Scorecard also revealed that only 16 percent of dealers have their technicians start their day from their first stop. So we have to assume that 87 percent of our members have their technicians come into the shop every morning before their first call. You may not be watching, but there could be much unproductive time wasted in your business every day as a result. Maybe you don’t want to watch as technicians paid by the hour spend unproductive time discussing last night’s sporting event. Maybe you look away as the technicians chat up the customer service reps about their kids and step outside for another smoke before gathering their parts and heading out on their route.

But there is no more significant waste of time, efficiency and wage expense than having techs report to the office every day. So stop doing this!

Then how will the technicians get their parts for the day and drop off the payments from the previous day’s work? Hire a private courier. The courier will visit the shop every night, collect parts bins for each technician’s next-day calls, and deliver them that evening to the technician’s homes. At the same time, the courier will retrieve the container of return parts and the payments from the previous day’s work, and bring them to the office early the next morning.

Meanwhile, your technician is starting his day on the clock at the customer’s home at 8:00 a.m., and goes off the clock after finishing the last call. Bam! How simple was that? And you just got two more calls per technician completed every day, every week. This added revenue will more than pay for the courier service to jockey parts and customer payments.

As I said, profit all comes down to efficiency and billable work.

BrandSource service consultant Paul MacDonald ran his own 38-tech service business and is a past president of the UASA. He currently operates the Expert Service Program, which helps servicers run their operations more efficiently and profitably. You can reach Paul at (647) 500-7785 or

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