Service departments

Monday, July 25, 2011

Q. How do other industries manage service departments?

A. We are all painfully familiar with the challenge of providing quality repair service for our mobility customers yet somehow not go broke.

I understand that there is no other industry that is quite like the HME mobility repair business. Still, though, there are some time-proven methods that are simple to use and common sense in approach (and without going through the agony of creating departmental P&Ls) that apply to HME repair.

Our "reference industry" will be independent auto repair shops (not franchised car dealerships).

I have selected a few crucial "Key Performance Indicators" (KPIs) from the auto repair business that can be tweaked to fit the HME mobility repair business.

KPIs are like benchmarks with laser guidance that target "source points" to direct your attention to a manageable set of causes, not a long list of vague factors. 

The selected KPIs are easy to put into place without need for IT support, and draw from data that you probably already have access to.

The KPI concept is adapted from Mitch Schneider's series of textbooks and seminars on automotive service management.

The single most important KPI: Average Repair Bill (parts and labor)

Simple and easy to calculate, this KPI is very telling. More often than not, it is lower than it should be. Common reasons:

* Pushing to repair as many wheelchairs per day, rather than doing as many job operations as you could/should on a given service order.

* Sloppy evaluation, missing other repairs that need to be done.

* Not billing for "adds" such as non-faulty components that must be removed for access to broken part.

* So what should your average repair invoice be? We'll explore that next month along with more details on interpreting your KPI number, plus add a couple more KPIs to consider. HME

Dick Fuller is the owner of Richard Fuller Consulting. Reach him at or 636-227-5275.