Searching for Lost Time

With the introduction of SmartFlow service advisors and technicians have not only gained productivity and consistency, but also the ability to know where every vehicle is in the workflow and how much billable time could be sold or has been over-committed.
Lets take the number crunching one step further. What if you knew how long a vehicle is in each workflow step and you could identify patterns and develop best practices to gain more efficiency? Since I have met only one shop owner, who would claim that his process is highly optimized and has no potential for more gains, the question for the steps where time is lost is really important.


Lets take a look at one of our reports to explore this a little further. The image below is a cut out of a report listing the workflow steps.

time spent

  1. The first column captures the time the workflow step has been entered.
  2. Then the Workflow step is listed
  3. The third column shows the work order value at the beginning of the workflow step
  4. Then the time is shown the vehicle stayed in the workflow step indicated in column 2


This is a pretty uneventful workflow except that during work obviously an additional authorization by the motorist has been detected. The motorist has declined the job proposed so the work was done and since the motorist was on the phone already, he/she has been notified that the vehicle is ready for pick up. 36 minutes later the vehicle has been picked up.

Now lets check out the two most time consuming steps besides working on the vehicle for almost 6 hours:

A – Waiting on Approval and B – Waiting for Parts.

Waiting on approval is no small feat. It was either really hard to reach the customer or the service advisor has simply put this work order on the back burner. Combined with the fact that it was late during the day the parts couldn’t be delivered in time for same-day delivery and the motorist had to wait one more day. Bummer.

If this report is no outlier, it might be time to review with the service advisor

  • How to prioritize reaching the motorist  – absolutely highest priority over all other activities 
  • How to find out the best way to reach the motorist – at vehicle drop-off, ask for the best way to reach the motorist and mark that phone number, ask for the possibility of text message or email alerts
  • How to make vehicle repair the motorist’s priority – develop a script or at least an outline on how to create urgency politely but firmly on the phone

A small piece of reporting, with just a few numbers, but aren’t they telling a great story and give you great insight, and help you running the shop better?