When it comes to your shop, size matters. Bigger is better. And bigger often means the difference between your shop shutting its doors and your shop thriving well into the future. Just ask one of the 6,000 smaller shops that closed between 2008 and 2014. That’s right. Around 6,000 shops went out of business in less than six years. Here’s something even more mindboggling: During that same time, the number of bays in repair shops across the country grew by around 13,000.
More bays in fewer shops should tell you one thing: You need to grow your business in order to have a better chance of surviving. So how do you grow without picking up and moving your entire operation to a bigger space? Efficient auto repair shop design. You need to look at your entire shop to see what you can do to minimize its inefficiencies and increase the possibilities.
Start outside. A productive shop starts before you ever think about pulling a car into a bay. Take a look at your parking lot. How easy is it to get a car from a parking space into a bay door? Is it like playing Tetris? If so, consider designing a more efficient flow from your lot to your lifts. Also, think about moving your shipping dock as close to your parts storage as possible if they’re currently separated. There’s no need for anyone to walk back and forth hauling boxes from one place to another. And speaking of walking …
Focus on distance and ease of movement. By making your techs walk shorter distances between departments and storage, you can dramatically increase productivity. Even a few extra steps adds up over the course of a day, week or year. Centralize your service counter for maximum efficiency so that your techs don’t need to enter the customer waiting area to talk to their service writers. Similarly, outfitting your shop with multiple tool stations will keep your techs from unnecessary long walks throughout the day.
Go vertical. When designing a floor plan on the page, it’s easy to forget that you’re working in a three-dimensional space. Shelving and other vertical storage can really expand your possibilities—especially if you’re designing for a shop with a smaller footprint.
Let it shine. Lighting is one of the most important—and most overlooked—aspects of a shop. Instead of a few large lighting fixtures using fluorescent or incandescent bulbs, use numerous LEDs across your entire shop. But don’t stop there. Good lighting in an environment goes well beyond the fixtures. Light bounces off of bright surfaces and is absorbed by darker surfaces, so use bright white paint wherever possible. And don’t forget about the floors. A lighter-colored floor will bounce light onto the undercarriage of a car, making it much easier for your techs to see.