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Timing the Technicians

Whose Time is It?

A very astute owner/manager demonstrated his ability to perform analysis in his business, and to capitalize on an opportunity to expand his profits. His efforts would show immediately on the bottom line of his profit and loss statement, as there are a minimal amount of expenses related to this income producing idea.

The owner took the time to tabulate the total number of hours billed to customers each week as compared to the number of hours that his mechanics were available at their bench.

The available number of hours per mechanic was 44 hours each week. Yet, in the examination of the completed shop tickets he found that they had billed only 29 hours each week.

This was acceptable from the point of view that his mechanics were all on commission. But considering that his share of the potential revenue was missing, he wanted to solve the problem. After all, there was 15 hours per week for each of three mechanics that was not being billed. If your shop rate is the same as his, $38, and you are paying the mechanics 50% of their labor charges, this is quite a sum of money. For you see with three mechanics, he was losing $855 in revenue each week, and nearly $43,000 per year. This is not $43,000 in sales, but $43,000 that goes almost largely to the bottom line.

The owner had observed that too frequently his mechanics looked at their watch, checked the book, or knew 'about how much time' it took to complete a particular job. And when a customer would arrive at the shop needing service that could be done in a short period of time, the customer was always charged for a minimal amount of time. In either case, as evidenced by the billed hours, and the backlog of work, there was a shortage of billable hours.

The technique that he developed is very simple and easily duplicated. The owner went to a hardware store and purchased for each mechanic, two electrical alarm clocks and two inline rotary switches.

Installing a switch on each clock, two clocks were placed on a shelf in front of each mechanic with the rotary switch being within easy grasp. Each clock was then adjusted to read 12 o'clock.

When the first piece of equipment was rolled in for service, the switch was turned on the first clock so that he was now timing the repair. As he examined the equipment, picked out the parts, and tested the equipment, an actual time on the bench was being calculated.

When there was an interruption, he simply turned the first clock off until he was ready to resume work. The second clock was on the shelf to accommodate the customer that needs just a few minutes of bench time. The mechanic turns on and off, the second clock as necessary and tabulates an actual billing time. He then can return to the first job and turn that clock on again. When he has completed either job, he would adjust the clock to again read 12 o'clock.

Were there repercussions to this change in billing format? Yes, he explained. And no, he did not ever really achieve all of the potential billing hours. But he did go from 29 hours per week per mechanic to an average of 38 hours billed. This resulted in approximately $22,000 being added to the bottom line. Not a bad return from an investment of about $85. You may not be able to turn back the hands of time, but you can sure learn to count them correctly.

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This article is copyrighted by Tom Shay and Profits Plus Solutions, who can be reached at: PO Box 1577, St. Petersburg, Fl. 33731. Phone 727-464-2182. It may be printed for an individual to read, but not duplicated or distributed without expressed written consent of the copyright owner.

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