Hours of Opportunity
For most people, getting their vehicle’s oil changed is a revolving chore on their to-do list. It’s an easy thing to put off until the next day, and it’s an even easier task to make excuses for why today is not the day. One of your jobs as an operator is to find out what those excuses are and eliminate them.
To combat the customer who tells their friend, “I felt like they were trying to sell me things I didn’t need,” you build a relationship with your customers and educate them. When you hear the words, “People who work on cars are shady,” you cringe because that is a reputation you’ve spent your career working hard to disprove. Finally, when you see a customer circle your shop at 6:15 p.m., you wonder, “What kind of business am I missing out on by not having extended hours of operation?” The truth is, you could be missing out on a goldmine of potential customers.
Lenny Saucier is the director of training for Take 5 Oil Change, a fast lube chain that is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.
“The main advantage to having extended hours is for the customers. People feel pressure to rearrange their schedules to come and get an oil change, and that creates more stress. If they can get it done on their way to work or on their way home from work, then there is automatically less pressure,” Saucier said.
For extended hours to work for your shop, you must consider several factors starting with your end-of-day reports. Your end-of-day reports will help you see the big picture of what your car counts look like at specific times during the day. It is also helpful to look at your point of sale (POS) software.
“Start with your end-of-day reports and see what the numbers say, then staff accordingly. Also, if you have a POS system, you’ll be able to tell how many cars per hour are rolling through your shop. If you are tracking it well, you should be able to get a good base line of how many people you need at different times during the day,” Saucier said.
This research is crucial. Most operators fear that by extending their hours they will have workers with idle hands and empty bays.
“With a traditional setting, I imagine it is a lot easier because everyone comes in at 8 a.m. and leaves at 6 p.m. Once you extend your hours, ideally you’ll need two openers and two closers. You’ll also want to make sure that you have the ability to have some sort of leadership on the floor at all times,” Saucier said. “We have one manager and two assistant managers at most of our shops. That way if you schedule it properly, you’ll have management on the floor all day.”
The amount of employees you’ll need in the shop at one time will depend upon how many cars you have coming in and out of your bays. Figuring out how to do this while still keeping your employee’s hours fair and your overtime costs under control, can be a challenge.
“We try to keep our employees’ hours around 40 hours. Sometimes we do have a couple of part-time workers,” Saucier said. “Everybody is given a payroll percentage that they have to maintain. It’s then up to that manager to decide whether they need more employees. Of course, if that manager starts paying a lot of overtime, they must weigh whether or not it would be better to hire another full-time employee.”