Auto Shop Coaching Blog

Are Your Technicians Efficient AND Productive? How to Tell the Difference

It’s summertime and the COVID pandemic seems to be coming to an end. States are opening up and removing restrictions, people are hitting the road and looking forward to family reunions and real vacations again.

Most auto repair shops that I work with are struggling—not because they don’t have enough work—because they can’t get the work back out the door fast enough. Shop owners say “my technicians don’t have the skills I need” or “I need more technicians.” But do you? Maybe you need to improve the efficiency and productivity of the team you have?

Ideas to grow your businessNon-ATI Members: Looking for more ways to optimize efficiency and productivity? Discover tips on how to improve both in ATI’s latest non-member webinar.

Efficiency Versus Productivity

Often I hear the terms efficiency and productivity interchanged, but they really measure very different metrics.

  • Efficiency = how close to the billed time a technician can get the job done. For example, a technician who is 100% efficient will get a job that bills or flags 1 hour done in 1 hour.
  • Productivity = how many total billable hours a technician completes. For example, a technician is 100% productive if they are on the clock for 8 hours and bill out or flag 8 billable hours.

If you think you need more technicians, evaluate how efficient and productive your current technicians are first. For example, you may have a B-Tech who can get a front brake job done in half the billable time (making him 200% efficient)—but he only averages completing 5 billable hours in an 8-hour workday (making him 63% productive).

Take the time to track and evaluate the efficiency and productivity of each member of your team. Higher skilled technicians should be at 100% or more on both. Your general service tech will likely be closer to 40-50% based on the type of jobs he or she is assigned and their skill level.

What If Your Techs Don’t Meet the Goal?

If you find that your higher skilled technicians are well below that goal, find out why by asking:

  • Have I sent a goal/expectation with my technician on how much I want him/her to get done each day?
  • Have I set a goal with my service advisor to sell that many billable hours for that tech?
  • Do my technicians need training to get more efficient?
  • Do I need to reorganize the shop to make it more efficient?
  • Are we wasting time? Do we look busy but we aren’t productive?
  • Do I have a workflow problem or miscommunication between the techs and my service advisor?

When your technicians are working at their highest level of efficiency and productivity you may find that you don’t need another person. Or you’ll have the hard numbers to be able to confidently go looking for a new team member and identify what skill set you need to better serve your customers.

At ATI, we teach shop owners how to evaluate their team, set expectations, and hold their team accountable to grow. We also provide you with the resources to turn entry-level technicians into high-level technicians with our new Technician Apprenticeship Programs and Technician Training Program.

Want to learn more? Start by registering for a shop owner event at

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Charlene is an Executive Coach at ATI, a Certified Profit First Professional, a former shop owner, and has been coaching since 2014. Charlene helps clients find the right solutions to their challenges and encourages them to make the changes that result in having the life they dreamed about when they got into business ownership.