Home >> Executive Dialogue >> Efficient and Effective

Efficient and Effective

By: Curtis Clark

Managing your service department is probably the most dynamic piece in the dealership.  There are many moving parts and communication with other departments is key.  It’s important to take some time to develop and work toward servicing your customers efficiently and effectively.  This can be accomplished by changes to your dispatching or even how you stock parts on vans.  However, it still comes back to communication to make sure things are happening the way you need them to.

Dispatching How you dispatch calls is critical to how you take care of customers and how quickly you can get equipment back up and running.  The first thing to look at is what technology you already have that can allow you to dispatch more effectively.  Do you run GPS on service vans or on phones provided to technicians?  If so, is there a way you can use that GPS data to help in dispatching?  There may be simple easy ways of using the data you already get with GPS and use it as a tool to help in dispatching.  How often have you sent someone who was an hour away from a job instead of sending the technician 15 minutes away? Utilizing the technology you’re already spending money on can help maximize not only response time but also help cut costs in wear and tear on vans and on your fuel bill.  If you don’t have GPS technology at hand, consider dedicating technicians to zones.  Those zones can be near where they live to easily make calls first thing in the morning or in areas where it may be the outlying part of your territory.  Having the techs in zones and looking at where you’re making calls can help make the same difference in response time and cost reduction.

Van Inventories Van inventories are a tricky piece of the puzzle, there are certain key items that most, if not all, vans should have.  Making sure that you’re looking at them and modifying the inventories is important.  Van inventories and communication between departments is crucial. You need Parts to get the inventory and allocate it to the van.  If you get new customers on PM, it’s especially important for Sales to get that information not only to Service to set the PM schedule but also to Parts to make sure you have adequate stock for normal PM items.  What about large accounts?  Do you have a fleet of trucks that is handled by a certain technician or two?  It’s important that the van is tied to that account inventory wise.  If you make a change in technician at that account then a van swap should be done to ensure that any inventory set up for that account remains with that account.  Revisiting the zones topic, there might be zones that are dominated by more of a certain class of truck. Wouldn’t it be effective to make sure that the van inventories are set up to support that type of equipment rather than a one size fits all inventory?  When working with van inventories, it’s important to remember that you have limited space so it’s what you do with that space that makes a difference in how you service a customer.  If you have a technician that works on class 2 and 3 equipment 80% of the time, should he really have 12 oil filters on his van? The same can be said for a technician that works mostly on class 4 and 5 equipment, should he have parts for electric equipment on his van?  Maximizing the space by making sure the vans are tied to customers or zones can help in making sure you have the right parts for the job on the van.

There are always more ways to pick up efficiencies; there are also times when much of this is going to go out the window due to customer requests or the need for a certain technician to take care of something.  Managing those exceptions are important but building a steady procedure on how you dispatch and how you manage van inventories can go a long way to making sure that you’re not only maximizing uptime for your customer but also maximizing your labor, parts, and recovery cost dollar. Customers are concerned about price but they are also concerned with keeping their investment in equipment up and running.

Curtis can be contacted at cclark@superiortire.com or 800.289.1456 x100