The Women’s Industry Network (WIN®) hosted a free webinar May 20 for more than two dozen members, featuring Dave Luehr of Elite Body Shop Solutions.
Luehr’s presentation, “WIN’ning SOPs,” dove into the difference between a good and bad SOPs (standard operation procedure), root problem solving, how winning SOPs help build a winning shop culture and how to get the team on board with the new processes.
He began by sharing a positive message: “Anyone willing to work hard on the right thing can be an unlimited entrepreneur.”
Good processes bring value to the customer and remove unnecessary waste from the system, according to Luehr. They challenge unnecessary waste, solve root problems instead of symptoms, are simple to understand and train on and can be tested and audited.
Activities can be broken down into three categories: value-added activities, the things customers are willing to pay for, such as the time a tech spends working on a vehicle; essential non-value-added activities, such as writing an estimate; and non-essential, non-value-added activities, such as missing damage or excessive breaks.
“Avoid unnecessary waste at all costs,” Luehr said. “Also, challenge your thinking on necessary steps and get real about why you think you need a procedure. Are you allowing old beliefs to be a barrier to efficiency? Just because you’ve been doing something a long time doesn’t mean it’s necessary. Eliminate the clutter in your processes.”
Using the “Five Whys” method to question a process allows a shop owner to determine the root cause. According to Luehr, the three main root problems are poor repair planning, maintaining the right number of vehicles on the property and how parts are managed when it comes to mirror matching.
“Most business efforts are directed at solving symptomatic issues, but those problems no longer exist if we attack it at the root. We need to create direct solutions to root problems.”
In addition to being simple to understand, good SOPs should include visuals whenever possible, and the processes should be able to be tested and audited.
Luehr also cautioned against writing a SOP to cover every potential problem.
“Capture 90% of situations and manage the exceptions to reduce a 300-page manual down to 50 pages,” Luehr advised. “Give employees some wiggle room to apply some of their own touches within the parameters of your standards and processes, because people like to have some influence on how things are done.”
Shops should also maintain an operations playbook accountability worksheet that lists the tasks required and who is responsible primarily and secondarily.
Luehr discussed his four-step SOP creation procedure, which begins by asking what problem needs to be solved and determining whether a SOP is actually needed.
“Get clear on what problem you’re trying to solve and figure out how to attack it at the root,” Luehr urged.
When implementing a new process, it’s important to get the team involved and give them a voice.
“If you want the SOP to be acknowledged and followed, you have to involve the team in the creation of that process. You need to follow up regularly on the process because it will come unwound if you don’t check on what’s working and resolve the issues when something isn’t working,” Luehr noted.
“Holding continuous improvement meetings provides an opportunity for everyone to be heard.”
It’s also vital to hold people accountable for the process implementation to be taken seriously.
“Be consistent,” Luehr emphasized. “And when you have wins, when the process is completed without failures, it’s time to celebrate that win very vocally and openly so everyone knows that all their hard work is paying off.
“People support what they help create, but if you attempt to create a SOP without input and force them to comply, you’re going to get what you’ve always got.”