They are now more efficient and can handle a higher volume of customers with the same-sized staff. Something Jardine values just as much as the improved workflow is the increase in communication.
“In a questionnaire of the staff asking 10 ways they thought we could work smarter, all the employees listed better communication as the number one way we could work smarter,” he says. “So one of the first things we did was start having weekly staff meetings. We worked on communicating better and offering staff more information. It really helped us understand how to do business better.”
Standardizing the processes for common everyday tasks at the dealership made communicating with new hires just as easy. Time is saved in training and the output is always the same.
“We’ve documented everything from how to write an invoice to how to write a work order,” says Jardine. “When someone new comes in, I can print off a copy of the eight steps a work order goes through and they can come back to me with questions.”
Previously, a new hire would be assigned someone to shadow for two weeks, holding up the manpower while adding to the man-hours. Often, hires were also trained to do the same things in different ways.
“We would have two or three people each doing it their own way. The finished product is never the same so you are not delivering a consistent service to your customer,” explains Jardine. “You want the outputs to always be the same and that is what standardized work does. We still have a long way to go in that area, but it really makes things easier. The business is run better, the staff has less stress and the customers are more satisfied.”
At Arn’s, the changes are far from over. As long as Jardine can think of ways to improve the way they do business and remain competitive, changes will be made.
“Change has become a constant for us. I thrive on it and we have gotten used to living in a world of change,” says Jardine. “I have preached to the staff that it will always be this way.”
If staff members ever get frustrated, or pushed near their limit like they once were when the dealership’s computers were all replaced, they are reminded of an old procedure or system that didn’t work as well as they thought.
“Periodically we try to bring out old pictures or talk about the way things used to be so they realize that the change has been a good thing. You forget about how it used to be,” Jardine shares. Employees are usually left questioning how they ever managed to do things the old way.
“Nobody wants change for the sake of change, so you need to make the employees’ jobs easier,” says Jardine. “It’s not just about profitability.”