Why you need an SOP, and in writing

There is nothing that a shop owner does in their business for which there shouldn’t be a standard operating procedure in place, according to a well-known shop coach.

“SOPs are what give us that defining of the repeatable tasks to give us that consistent outcome,” observed Bill Haas, owner of Haas Performance Consulting LLC, dedicated to the automotive service and repair industry.

He was speaking during his presentation Systems and Process Drive Operational Excellence at the recent Midwest Auto Care Alliance Vision Hi-Tech Training & Expo in Kansas City.

Some shop owners may shrug off Haas’ advice and say everything they need to know is in their head. They know how they want things done and expect staff to do things in a certain way.

Well, your staff can’t get in your head, Haas argued.

“And what I will tell you is this: If it isn’t written down, it doesn’t exist,” he said. “So if it’s truly an SOP, if it’s truly a process, if it’s truly something that you want your people to follow — that repeatable task to give us a consistent outcome — it has to be written down. If it’s not written down, it doesn’t exist.”

This may bring about a change in the way you do business and how things are done in the shop. People are naturally trepid when it comes to change, Haas acknowledged.

“Don’t you all get in the comfort zone? Have you ever had an employee say, ‘Well, I don’t know why we’re going to do that; I kind of like it the way it is. How do we know that’s going to work?’” he said.

Maybe one even argues they tried something like that at their old shop and it didn’t work there, so it probably won’t work here. But there are lots of reasons things don’t work out when attempting change. Notably, if you don’t stay on top of changing behaviours, then people will naturally fall back into their old ones, Haas said.

“Change is good. And guess what? Continuous process improvement is simply about implementing change,” he added.

Your goal should be to give customers an exceptional experience. They’re not typically coming to you because you’re offering the best price in town. When you ask them about where they’ve been before, they tell you stories about their old repair shop and how poorly they were treated and how poorly their experiences were.

“Did they say, ‘I’m here because I think you can save me money?’ No. They said, ‘I’m looking for a store to give me a better experience.’”

Image credit: Depositphotos.com

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