December AutoSuccess

Enjoy World-Class Recon – On any Budget

By Anthony Martinez

As an Iraq War Army combat veteran, one of the most valuable skills I learned was having the proper process for the task ahead.

Those involved in the mission had to understand their role and weaponry skills – and those of the platoon – to spread risk widely. D-Day invasion paratroopers leveraged this practice for ultimate success – and I learned its effectiveness in jumping into Iraq combat.

I applied this principle back home when running a three-store recon center that processes 600 cars a month.

Here are six steps you can duplicate at your dealership to structure a world-class recon operation; then, I dive into details about staffing hours per recon task. Both provide helpful guidelines for improving the workflow from your recon process.

  1. Mission – recognize that recon can and should be a profit center for the dealership and manage it with that focus.
  2. Reconnaissance - Scope out your location, including layout, support systems, parking and staging, and security and access.
  3. Team – Include mechanics based on their experience diagnosing all makes and models, considering ASE-certified techs, and designating a supervisor or team leader who can inspect and estimate, understanding the used car manager’s mission.
  4. Detail - Internalize what you can: pay a flat rate, consider variable detailing and standard operating procedures, and focus on supplies and staging that reduce detail techs’ need to move to retrieve supplies and equipment, like vacuums.
  5. Parts – Have a dedicated process-oriented person, variable estimates per vehicle for speed and price, and pre-stage parts
  6. Metrics and Measure – Know and practice the essential key performance indicators for managing and monitoring reconditioning speed-to-sale and inter-department communication efficiency.

One component of recon efficiency that dealers ask about is how to determine staffing load. Your recon asset decisions look like this:

  • Number of service/dispatch advisors
  • Number of technicians
  • Number of detailers
  • Sublets – to use or not to use
  • Digital/photo specialist for online inventory presentation
  • Used car manager

Best practice includes the used car manager as a recon asset - a most critical one. As the table below notes, the used car manager gets a Best Practice clock time:

Let’s calculate your staffing load: 100 units a month X 12 months = 1,200 used vehicles reconditioned per year. Fixed operations consultant Gene White of Gene White Management and an industrial time efficiency engineer, also allows four hours per detail and technician:

  • 100 vehicles x 4 hours x 1 tech = 400 hours per month.
  • 400 hours = 10 man-weeks@40 hours/week
  • 10 man-weeks divided by 4 weeks/month = 2.5 techs

This staffing requirement assumes these 2.5 technicians are working their 40 hours at 100% efficiency. This shop will employ three individuals in each spot to support sick days, vacations, and unusual workloads. These workloads are not level and will have peaks and valleys. Dealers tend to over-staff, which would not be necessary if management watched and managed their productivity closer. Highly productive recon operations have done their labor/asset calculations well and have accountability tools to hold assets to their Best Practice clock times.

A manager seeking to improve efficiencies through the dealership's fixed ops and reconditioning functions should start here. These are experience-tested tips. Determine your mission, build your team, and then work, measure and monitor your plan. If we can help, please call.

Anthony Martinez is the Director, Client Services for Rapid Recon, which he joined in 2017. He most recently spent three years improving recon operations for a central recon center processing more than 1200 vehicles a month. Anthony served for eight years with the U.S. Army and then several years in quality control. He is certified in Lean and Six Sigma and has used these practices to reduce the average days in reconditioning for the dealership to under three days on average while reducing their costs and increasing grosses.

About Rapid Recon

Reconditioning workflow automation from Rapid Recon is the industry standard in time-to-line inventory turn and speed-to-sale vehicle revenue enhancement for automotive retailers. Benchmarking data based on 13 million vehicles processed uniquely positions Rapid Recon to advise dealers on how to improve their store’s profitability. Used by more than 2,000 dealerships, Rapid Recon ensures the accountability of processes, property, and people. Hence, dealers know answers quickly, find assets anywhere, and sell vehicles promptly to grow dealership profitability. CALL US: +650-999-0497