RECTifying Your Operations, Part 1

Ways to reduce your dealership’s repair event cycle time and improve operational efficiency.

Repair event cycle time (RECT) is a popular topic of interest within the RV industry. Recent articles in RV PRO either focus on this subject or mention it. One of the workshop ideas being solicited for the 2024 RVDA Convention concerns strategies and tactics for improving RECT. My professional experience as a parts manager/director and fixed operations consultant support this interest in RECT and its impact on a business’ profitability and customer service.

For these reasons and others that will be introduced, I have developed a series of monthly columns devoted to methods that you might consider as part of your plan to RECTify your operations by improving your RECT. Since RECTify and RECT will be used throughout this series of columns, it is important that I define these two terms as they apply to the concepts, techniques and tools that will be introduced.

  • RECTify: verb meaning to make, put or set right; remedy; corRECT.
  • RECT: a term representing “repair event cycle time,” used to measure the performance of the fixed operations within a business.

Thinking Outside the Box

Some of the concepts, techniques and tools that are included to assist you in RECTifying your operations might require you to modify some of your policies and procedures, or even to develop new ones. Each monthly column will address at least one and possibly two sides of this six-sided box of suggestions to assist you in reducing your RECT, improving your operational efficiency and enhancing your customer service. One of those six sides will be open for you to include policies and processes that you might already be applying or that you might develop as you read this series of columns. Yes, to reduce your RECT, you will probably have to exert some extra effort at least initially to achieve the efficiencies that I believe could be available to you.

To justify these efforts, I refer you to three metrics resulting from an RV manufacturer quality survey of the greatest issues facing dealerships in 2024, which were reported in the March 2024 issue of RV PRO. These percentages represent the number of responding dealerships that believe this factor is important, and they are:

  • Competition at 17.88%: By increasing the amount of operating expense absorption by the fixed operations departments, it could assist the unit sales department to offer more competitive pricing of the RVs.
  • Labor at 29.14%: By reducing RECT, the amount of available labor hours to sell increases — which increases the opportunity for greater fixed ops absorption and the realization that perhaps you don’t require additional technicians.
  • Inflation at 66.89%: Through more efficient operations, perhaps the number of personnel could be decreased, which reduces operating expenses and increases profitability. According to a study referenced in a business publication several years ago, the average worker operated at an 80% efficiency level. Therefore, to achieve 400% performance, a business would require five employees. However, if each worker was at least 100% efficient, then only four employees would be required.

If you are concerned about any (or all) of these three challenges to your business operations for 2024 and beyond, please continue reading to learn about some opportunities to RECTify your operations and to reduce your RECT.

Side One of the Box — TTWWADI or RECT?

As a fixed operations consultant, I am contracted to assist clients with resolving challenges to their operating efficiency and profits. After an initial tour of their operations and introductions to their personnel, I look at their facility and watch their staff because, to quote Yogi Berra, “You can observe a lot just by watching.”

After observing their physical operations and reviewing some of their computer reports, I will have developed a list of questions for the owners/managers with whom I am working. Most of these questions will be of the format: Why are you performing this operation in this manner? Quite often, their reply is “that’s the way we’ve always done it” (TTWWADI). This is a challenge yet also an opportunity because if the intent is to reduce the RECT, then it can be assumed that doing things the way they have always been done could be a part of the problem with the poorly performing RECT data.

By applying a different set of words to RECT, which are “researching, evolving and changing techniques,” it could be possible to identify some inefficient processes. It could be that an inefficient process is impacting the efficiency of your technicians, which adds to your RECT. My experience in and with dealerships is that special service tool control is frequently a cause of technician inefficiency. Per the RECT noted in the first sentence of this paragraph, research your special service tool control process. While performing this research, ask these questions:

  1. Where are the special service tools stored? If there isn’t a designated, secure area, then perhaps it requires some of a technician’s time to locate a tool.
  2. What method is used to determine which technician is currently using a tool? If a technician requires a tool that is not in its designated location, then she might have to check with each of the other technicians before she is able to procure and use the tool.
  3. Who is responsible to ensure that each special service tool is actually in the dealership? How frequently are these verifications processed?
  4. What is the procedure for ordering a replacement for any missing tool? What individual or department will pay for that replacement? If the dealership must incur the expense of replacing a missing tool, how much does that impact the profitability of the service operations?
  5. Who must inform a customer that their scheduled maintenance or repair cannot be performed? How does this impact the customer’s decision to remain a customer of your dealership? If a scheduled service cannot be performed, how does this impact your RECT?

This is one of the many processes within your fixed operations that could be negatively impacting your RECT. In previous issues of RV PRO, I have introduced my concept of Detailed Written Procedures (DWP). After researching your special service tool control processes, I suggest that you either update your current DWP or develop one. Efficient processes are a tool for improving personnel efficiency, which can reduce your RECT.

Special service tool control is just one process related to this first side of the box. In next month’s issue of RV PRO, we will review more side(s) of the box and offer additional concepts, techniques and tools for reducing your RECT.

Mel Selway

Mel Selway is the president of P.A.R.T.S. Inc., a Sahuarita, Arizona-based firm providing business management analysis and training to retailers. He can be reached at 520-336- 8606 or melselway@aol.com.

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