Utilize Technology to Increase Productivity

All the previous posts on productivity are basic steps that cost nothing to implement. This next step is technology and it will cost a few bucks if you decide to obtain and execute.

When I was an installer in LaCrosse, Wis., we had tachographs in all of our service vehicles. What is a tachograph? A tachograph was a device that recorded the time of day and speed of the vehicle on a paper graph that could be compared to a job log. This management tool allowed our managers to check the speed of the vehicle, the installation times, the driving times and the breaks to evaluate the productivity of the technician. It also helped to determine if the technician is having trouble with a particular installation, traffic route or has a tendency to have a heavy foot.

The “tach” is old school today but there are new types of technology to help the manager with keeping an eye and a finger on the pulse of his business. There are a number of tracking and scheduling software as well as hardware products that can make the flow of work smooth and efficient.

Recently, we consulted a rather large call center with technicians in several states. One of the company’s problems was scheduling and tracking techs as they went through their day. They had a number of technologically advanced systems in place already but the utilization had to be tweaked to make it more usable.

One of the really neat systems is the GPS real-time tracker. The manager or dispatcher can watch as the technician goes through the day and route them to areas of need. They can see how fast the tech is progressing through the day and schedule more or less work depending on problems they see. The manager can also keep the customer abreast of when the tech will arrive at their vehicle or residence.

How about a GPS for the technician? The tech can program in the entire days’ jobs and let the GPS take him where he needs to be. The GPS monitors traffic, finds short cuts and routes them efficiently—no getting lost, no getting stuck in traffic, no having to look for a close restaurant for lunch. It is all there on the GPS.

Another technology that will help in making the day run smoothly and productively is the smartphone. The options (apps) that the modern day phone brings to the job are amazing. The access to a digital camera communicates when words fail and documents when a record is called for. Problems with miswriting a VIN are solved simply by a click of a camera and attaching a photo to the electronic work order. How about getting help in the field? What if a new tech has never seen something before? How do I detach that from here? Just shoot a photo and call your favorite mentor. Attach the picture and get help as fast as it takes to dial a phone number. What if you can’t see where that retainer fell into the engine compartment? Take your phone and use your flashlight app. Oh, there it is. Some phones even have a two-way radio built in to have instant communication with the boss or other techs nearby. Many of the new software products now out for auto glass shops also include a mobile app for instant quotes or part lookup for confirming the right glass part in the field.

Technology is a wonderful thing but it needs to be used to be helpful. I urge you to use the technology to make your day easier, faster and safer for everyone.