As an independent workshop owner, maximizing your daily schedule and dealing with whatever walks through the door during the day is par for the course.

Often customers will drop in or ring up expecting you to be able to fit in the ‘quick’ job on their car at a drop of a hat. As an independent garage, with your reputation largely built on word-of-mouth, you will undoubtedly hear yourself saying ‘yes’, whilst mentally juggling your jobs for the day. After all, none of us can afford to turn a job away, the last thing you want is one of your regular customers ringing up another garage a few miles down the road because you’re too busy to ‘have a look’.

So when you read about tips for time management, chances are you roll your eyes in the belief that the concept, whilst a sound one, is too often elusive to achieve. .

However, the first rule for time management is to give yourself some thinking time, so make yourself a drink , take five, and read on for our quick guide to managing and freeing up your time.

Start with a to do list

todolist

We all know those people who spend half their working life making ‘to do’ lists that they fail to achieve anything. Having said that, writing a list is more likely to result in a focused approach whereby tasks are taken in hand and tackled. Just don’t spend too much time mulling over the list itself! If you’re really disciplined, spend the first 20 or 30 minutes when you arrive in work planning your schedule for the day.

Diary

Keeping a diary may sound obvious but knowing who’s out of the business, who’s on holiday and who has a meeting as well as which customers are due in is essential to the smooth running of your garage. A diary which is accessible by everyone is essential and if it’s automated, even better, you and your staff need to get into good habits of inputting information on a regular basis so everyone understands the day’s priorities.

Prioritise and communicate

The key to managing your workload is to prioritise. Ordering the day’s work by importance and ensuring all your staff are informed of the jobs taking precedence will make your day run smoother and keep your customers happier.

Delegate to double your productivity

Don’t try and do everything yourself. You employed your staff for a reason so let them do their jobs, for entrepreneurs who are absolutely the heart and soul of the business, handing over responsibility for key aspects is both terrifying and liberating. You will have to take the plunge, not only will your business be more efficient and your own stress levels kept in check, but your staff will embrace the opportunity and will repay your trust in their abilities with hard work and loyalty. No one wants to work for a control freak.

Clocking in and out

clockingin

Old fashioned it may be and, yes, a little bit control freakish, but understanding the productivity of your staff, especially your mechanics, and therefore the profitability of each job will help you identify wasted time, jobs which need to be charged at a higher rate and focus your mind on ways to improve productivity and performance. You will also be able to better understand the profitability of each job, identify trends and allow for seasonal fluctuations.

It also makes sense for you to effectively clock in and out and by that, we mean to log your daily activities and corresponding time you take on each. Do this for a few days and you will soon see where your time is going and if you need to concentrate on different aspects. You’ve heard of the 80/20 principle? That 80% of your results comes from 20% of your activity, this exercise helps you identify the 20% which needs your attention most and thereby helps grow your business.

Know what’s going on

It is imperative for any business owner to have an understanding of what’s going on in the business at any one time from the allocation of jobs to any customer issues, even if he or she is not dealing with it directly. It means you shouldn’t have any nasty surprises and can take control or give direction where necessary.

Make time for the other things…

Of course you never turn business away so when one of your regular customers needs a windscreen replacing or the brakes could do with a quick check or if someone breaks down in the adjacent street and needs immediate assistance, you’re there.  It’s good for business to be so flexible and accommodating and ensures your continued exceptional reputation, but it can also prove to be a headache. Building in a buffer zone, time you have dedicated to run the accounts or dedicate to social media or check your parts inventory, for example, (see earlier points), can then be utilised for the unexpected if required.

Measure what you manage

We are all obsessed with return on investment: how much is our business actually making? Or more specifically, how much is each job making for the business? This will help you understand the profitable aspects of your business and address the areas which are not performing. You will be able to plan ahead and create accurate forecasts, essential if you want to expand the business or justify the expenditure of a new employee, for example.

Switch off

switchoff

A burnt out boss is no good for business, so don’t forget to give yourself some ‘me’ time.  Get up from the desk, go for a walk.  Even 15 minutes will give you a new perspective on what you need to do next.

New technology

Lastly, the more processes you can automate, particularly task allocation, technician clocking and the diary, as well as providing access to those who need it, the better organised your business. There are plenty of cloud based systems on the market which enable you to keep track of everything as well being accessible from a range of devices. For more details on the cloud, read our blog here. New technology can make your life easier, don’t ignore it because you don’t understand it, it requires investment or because ‘I’ve always done things this way’.


CarVue is a revolutionary cloud-based application for independent workshops, garages and mechanics. It’s a simple and smart app that removes the need for expensive servers, software upgrades or training to run an automotive business. With a simple web browser a workshop can be managed from any device, any time and from anywhere. Find out much more and sign up for an obligation free trial today at www.carvue.com