17 May 2024
The voice of the independent garage sector

Gearing up for the road ahead with a digital steer

Doing more with less has become the norm for many in the automotive industry as garages remained open to facilitate essential activity during the lockdown. Under significant restrictions, technicians stretched their time to grapple with new rules and ways of working. As the UK emerges from lockdown and post-lockdown, garages and repair shops around the country are now faced with the challenge of scaling up operations, often with fewer people on the ground.
The dynamic nature of the automotive industry requires businesses to be agile, responsive and cost-effective. The pandemic has compounded this. After all, when you’re operating in the face of evolving guidance, it’s only expected that processes will need to be defined and redefined time and time again.
    The sector has demonstrated remarkable resilience throughout lockdown, upping its game with rigorous COVID-19 protocols designed to keep essential workers and customers safe. Now is the time to take stock of these procedures and how they can be leveraged further as the lockdown restrictions ease.
Technology can do some of the heavy lifting here. The right tools will help the industry manage increasing demand, mitigating risk while ensuring quality outputs at the same time. It all starts with the humble checklist.

Easily scalable processes drive your garage forward
Inspections are critical in the automotive sector, monitoring everything from procurement and inventory management to servicing, repairs and quality control. Keeping them in check starts with one important step: Inspecting your own processes first.
SafetyCulture helps some of the world’s largest industries embed a culture of safety and accountability in their organisations. In our line of work, we see the value in simple, effective processes every day. The automotive sector shoulders a broad scope of work and over-complicated workflows affect how it is managed, especially as businesses anticipate a spike in demand as lockdown eases.
Inspections should not be a burden, instead, it should be simple and routine. By assessing and eliminating unnecessary bureaucracy, organisations can help staff keep track of the various duties as volume increases, from machine inspections to daily safety toolbox talks.  
Automation is the obvious solution here, but it need not come with the time-consuming complexity often associated with digital transformation. Consider introducing processes that already fit with your company’s ways of working. A simple way to start is by using a digital checklist. Spend less time on clerical tasks such as filling in paper checks, typing up reports, and finding the right photos. Moving from paper to digital through a platform like iAuditor helps drive accountability with actionable tasks and validation by having a clear endpoint that an employee can complete. It effortlessly streamlines the whole inspection process from collation to analysis, and to action.

A richer experience with data
Like most industries, automotive is experiencing a rapid shift to online channels. New ways of interacting with customers, such as service aggregators, and competing with online pure players make for a far more competitive marketplace. Digital checks are not just an efficiency boost for safety audits. It increases the quantity, consistency and quality of information gathered.
In digitising inspections, businesses have laid the foundation for levelling up their operations. Regular inspections for quality assurance, preventative maintenance and risk assessments, present the entire operational ecosystem instead of fragmented elements operating in their own silos.
By using a centralised system to house this data, businesses have oversight across everything from inventory to equipment failures and can act accordingly. Unpack trends over time and find opportunities to level up operations. For instance, data from regular preventative maintenance checks can move operations from outdated time-based maintenance models towards a more effective predictive maintenance strategy.
The knock-on effects of digitisation apply to front-of-house operations as well. Converting checks into digital vehicle inspection reports complete with rich media will help auto shops to stay competitive and bolster customer relationships.

Upskill for the road ahead
Now is the time to consider what new training your staff need to do their best work. As guidelines continue to shift, retraining staff will become a key part of business. Team buy-in is essential for implementing new processes but more often than not, staff members won’t have office desks or computers to facilitate traditional modes of training. In order to get everyone on the same page, consider introducing new safety training methods that lean into ways people are consuming information.
Using mobile-first platforms featuring smaller chunks of information can help. When repeated often, these micro-lessons can help ingrain practices in memory. With ongoing training in place, businesses can be confident that their teams are always up to the task, no matter how many procedural changes are made along the way.
Despite a growing workload, technology can empower the automotive sector to dial up their operations and meet safety standards at the same time. Taking away the burden of cumbersome, paper-filled processes lets teams spring into action right away to solve an issue, whatever it may be.
For more on how to scale-up safely, view SafetyCulture’s COVID-19 Resource Hub with free digitised COVID-19 guidance from governments and industry bodies: https://bit.ly/34J2RZu