Calculating Car Workshop Labour Efficiency

The clock is ticking

‘Time is money’ in bodyshops and service workshops. Essentially, these operations buy and sell the time of panel beaters, painters and technicians. A service workshop, for example, might buy one hour from a technician for £10 and sell it to a customer for £40, and make a profit of £30. (These figures are, of course, notional). John Deere Service Repair Manual PDF Download

Buying and selling the time of productives is, or should be, the major source of revenue and profit in bodyshops and service workshops. Profits from the sale of spare parts; oils and lubricants; paint and materials; and sublet and sundry are all subsidiary to the buying and selling of productives’ time. If you don’t sell time, you don’t sell any of these other things.

Just as you would take great care when buying and selling a spare part, you have to pay equal attention to buying and selling productives’ time – or even more so, because you cannot ‘stock’ productives’ time. In other words, if you don’t sell their time today, you cannot sell it tomorrow.

Time for sale

So once time is gone it’s gone, whereas a spare part will still be in stock. So it is a good idea to know how much time you have for sale. This would seem pretty simple. If you have six productives, and they are there eight hours every day, surely you have 48 hours for sale? Well, no, you don’t.

For a start, productives might be in the workshop for eight hours every day, but they don’t work on paying jobs for eight solid hours. For example, a customer could come back with a car that you serviced yesterday and complain that it keeps stalling. It will then be necessary for a productive to rectify the problem, and of course you cannot charge the customer for that. If it takes two hours, then you only have 46 hours left to sell, in our example.

Time sold

To complicate things further, you can actually end up selling more than 48 hours. Imagine, for instance, that a vehicle manufacturer’s standard time for a major service is two hours and you quote the customer on this basis. If your technician completes the service in one hour (unlikely, we know) then you will still charge the customer for two hours.

If this happened all day long, you could sell 96 hours less the four hours you could have sold if one of your technicians hadn’t spent two hours spent rectifying the engine stalling problem. (It’s four hours because you are selling two hours for every hour worked in this example.) So if your productives could halve the standard times all day, that’s 92 hours sold rather than 48 hours.

Three measures of time

What we are talking about here is the three kinds of time available in a bodyshop or service workshop:

Attended time – this is the time that panel beaters, painters or technicians are in the workplace available to work.

Work time – this is the time they spend actually working on jobs that, at the end of the day, a customer pays for. Clearly ‘work time’ does not include any time spent rectifying problems, or anything else they do that does not have a paying customer at the end.

Sold time – this is the time that you charge customers for. It could be the time quoted on an estimate for an insurance company, or a menu-priced service.

You could say that ‘attended time’ and ‘work time’ are both ‘real’, because you can almost see them. You can see when a productive is in the workshop, and you can see a productive working on paying jobs. What’s more, you can measure ‘attended time’ and ‘work time’ using a clock.

On the other hand, ‘sold time’ is not ‘real’. You can’t see it, and you can’t measure it using a clock. But at the end of every day you can add up all the time you have sold to customers from your job cards or invoices.

How fast and how long

If you measure attended time and work time, and add up sold time at the end of the day, you can then see how fast and how long your productives have worked during the day.

How fast they have worked is sold hours divided by work hours. In our example, that’s 92 hours sold compared to 46 hours worked, or 200% expressed as a percentage. That is, your productives are working twice as fast as the standard time.

How long they have worked is work hours divided by attended hours. In our example that’s 46 hours compared to 48 hours, or 95.8% expressed as a percentage. That is, your productives were working on paying jobs for 95.8% of the time.