Fixed Ops Journal - June 2020 - F20
FIXED OPS JOURNAL
A DIFFERENT WORLD
Employees will find new processes and mindsets are required post-COVID
n the "new normal" world imposed by the
COVID-19 pandemic, technicians at Patriot Subaru of Saco, near Portland, Maine,
now work firefighter shifts - three
11-hour days a week. Plus they work only in every other bay to maintain social distancing.
And at Hansel Auto Group in California,
technicians now diligently - not occasionally
- video record their multipoint walkaround
inspections to better communicate virtually
As these changes show, furloughed fixed
ops employees who return will likely find their
jobs are quite different from the ones they left.
Furthermore, the work will demand new skills
and mindsets, including more technical proficiency and an ability to adapt to change.
"Yesterday's normal is never coming back,"
says Adam Arens, CEO of Patriot Auto Group,
which operates three rooftops in Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. "That's why we're diligently looking way down
the road trying to figure out
what kind of people and
processes we need for the
David Long, executive
general manager at Hansel, says almost everything
will be done from a disfor right workers
tance - from customer
engagement to walkarounds. He says the pandemic has forced Hansel dealerships to alter
operations in ways that customers have wanted for a while.
"Now we have to do it, not just think about
doing it," says Long, who oversees Hansel's
eight dealerships in Santa Rosa and Petaluma.
"Employees need to understand how this
business now has changed exponentially.
With COVID-19, we've gone from a crockpot
mentality, where we've slowly made minor
changes, to a microwave mentality, where
changes are almost instant.
"Employees will need to adapt quickly."
Change agents will thrive
Rick Wegley, an instructor at the NCM Institute run by NCM Associates, an automotive
consulting and training firm, agrees that willingness to change will be a key employee attribute going forward.
Technicians at Patriot Subaru of Saco,
in Maine, practice social distancing,
working in every other service bay.
"With COVID-19, we've
gone from a crockpot
mentality, where we've
slowly made minor
changes, to a microwave
mentality, where changes
are almost instant."
DAVID LONG, executive general
manager, Hansel Auto Group
"Employees may be asked to do things
they've never done before ... they'll have to
adopt a whatever-it-takes attitude," he says.
"Look at it this way: If you don't like change,
you're going to hate extinction."
Bruce Gamble, owner of Acme Automotive
Training, says fixed ops employees should get
used to wearing more than one hat.
"They'll need to embrace cross-training so
things can keep going when other people are
out, either from COVID-19 or something else,"
As examples, service advisers might have to
double as car jockeys or cashiers. Parts desk
employees may have to handle retail customers as well as keep technicians supplied,
"Just like a Boy Scout, they'll have to be prepared," he notes.
There are some positives with the changes.
Wegley says some of his clients report their employees are more engaged in the wake of downsizing. Others report upticks in fixed ops productivity and revenue per repair order, perhaps
because advisers have more time to sell additional services since customer traffic is down.
Gamble believes higher-revenue repair orders will become a larger trend because technicians have more time to inspect vehicles.
"With reduced [fixed ops] traffic, technicians
have an opportunity to take a more detailed
look at cars," he says. "Plus customers are more
willing to do things now as opposed to waiting
until later because they don't want to have to
bring their vehicle in for a second time."
Amping up efficiencies
Arens says he already had dabbled with
three-day shifts at the Subaru store in Maine,
which has 20 service bays, before the coronavirus pandemic. The group has another Subaru store in Massachusetts and a Nissan store
in New Hampshire. It is building an Acura
dealership outside Portland.
He went all-in on the concept when social
distancing protocols forced technicians to
work in every other bay.
"If we can only have half as many technicians
see STAFFING, next page
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2020
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Fixed Ops Journal - June 2020
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2020 - F1
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2020 - F2
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2020 - Contents
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2020 - F4
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2020 - F5
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2020 - F6
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2020 - F7
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2020 - F8
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2020 - F9
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Fixed Ops Journal - June 2020 - F19
Fixed Ops Journal - June 2020 - F20
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Fixed Ops Journal - June 2020 - F22
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Fixed Ops Journal - June 2020 - F24