How to hire the right workshop manager

8 tips for top customer service on the phone

Here are 6 top tips for any auto garage owner looking to hire a workshop manager for the first time.

If you’re looking to hire a workshop manager for the first time, then congratulations are probably in order.

Whether you’ve bought a second workshop or you’ve reached a point in your life when you can step back from frontline business, hiring a workshop manager is a marker of success. You’ve done something right to get to this point.

But that makes it even more important to get the hiring right. You don’t want to have to dash back from the golf course, and you can’t split yourself in two to come back and manage everything if something goes wrong.

The information below is a good starting point if you want to give yourself the best possible chance of avoiding disaster. It’s not the be-all and end-all, but they’re useful points to keep in mind as you make the important decisions you have ahead of you.

What are you really looking for?

It’s important to be clear about what you’re actually looking for. A workshop manager is a step up from a service advisor role. It’s not just dealing with customers; it’s managing the whole workshop – from opening the doors in the morning, to being responsible for the financial performance of the business. Your workshop manager will recruit and manage staff and resolve customer complaints. That’s a diverse skill set, so you’re looking for a well-rounded candidate.

Spell out the job responsibilities, and your expectations, very clearly at the outset: in the job ad, in the interview, in the KPIs.

A workshop manager’s responsibilities

You’re looking for a candidate with experience of, or the ability to quickly get up to speed on, the following responsibilities.

A workshop manager should:

  1. Acquire a detailed understanding of the workshop’s financial goals and business targets. This should include (but not be limited to):
    • Turnover
    • Gross profit
    • Gross margin
    • Net profit
    • Car counts
    • Average dollar sale
    • Staff productivity and efficiency
    • Monitoring goals and targets on a yearly, monthly and weekly basis.
  2. Lead and motivate the team. Managing staff demands that the manager knows the minimum levels of acceptable performance for each position and understands all company policies. The manager will know how to hold effective team meetings and perform reviews, and how to deal with every type of employee issue.
  3. Deal with day-to-day customer issues. A manager will confidently and appropriately deal with each situation and will also instinctively know when intervention by the business owner is required to resolve a serious issue. A log of all customer issues should be maintained and be available to the business owner for review.
  4. Manage security. This includes security for the workshop facility, vehicles, cash, customer information and employee records.
  5. Maintain equipment assets. And make recommendations on equipment purchases to the business owner.
  6. Report on all activities to the business owner. At the minimum, the manager should provide a weekly report on all relevant key performance indicators, breaches of company policies, staff issues and any major customer complaints.

Making the right choice of workshop manager and ensuring that responsibilities and expectations are clearly understood are essential for the future growth of a workshop – whether you’re still actively involved or not.

A wrong choice or failure to communicate will most likely compromise the business and could lead to financially crippling results, so it’s worth taking the time to find the right candidate now.

This article was published 20/07/2020 and the content is current as at the date of publication.