Custom workstations allow dealers to design and maintain clean, efficient shops that can reduce customer wait times and help retain skilled technicians.

Custom workstations allow dealers to design and maintain clean, efficient shops that can reduce customer wait times and help retain skilled technicians. 

Well-maintained, efficient service centers have the potential to improve your dealership’s image, help retain skilled service professionals and improve overall employee satisfaction. Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to keep automotive service centers efficient and well-maintained.

In the service department, organization, cleanliness, safety and operational efficiency are paramount. Before you invest in your next workstation, consider the following tips for finding the equipment that will work best for you.

1. Focus on Efficiency

Operational efficiency and the resulting reduction in service times play a large role in overall customer satisfaction. The right workspace can help you optimize your operational efficiency by reducing part-retrieval time, giving service professionals easy access to all the tools and materials they need and cutting down on wasted space.

Since every operation is different, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, which makes customizability of workstations incredibly important. In addition to total workstation size, consider the size and number of drawers, trays and shelves, workbench- and toolbox-top materials, trash-disposal space and integration of power and data access. Taking advantage of modularity in workstation design is the best way to reach your center’s optimum operational efficiency.

Work with your cabinet vendor and service professionals to map out where tools and parts will be stored. Find easily accessible, organized spaces to house high-traffic tools and parts, placing seldom-used or oversized items in designated areas where they won’t be in the way. Finally, don’t forget to give your technicians space to work on computers and consult manuals.

2. Keep Assets Safe and Secure

One important subset of designing a customizable, modular workstation to your facility’s needs is including features for safety and security. Safety of your service professionals and security of your products and tools can be achieved through simple modifications to a basic workstation design.

Mobile toolboxes and carts, for example, should be fitted with drawers that stay locked during transport, allow only one drawer to be fully extended at a time (to reduce the risk of tipping) and are rated above the appropriate weight for the tools and parts you store in them.

Seemingly minor add-ons that increase security can be game changers for your facility. Whether you are preparing to install a new workstation or retrofitting an existing unit, hardware such as replaceable core locks, keyed-alike and master-key locks and keyless keypad locks will keep your important items secure when needed while making them easily accessible to appropriate personnel.

3. Keep It Clean

Ensuring that workspaces can stay clean and consistently look tidy and organized is important, especially for technician comfort. Share as much information about the demands of your facility with your cabinet vendor as you can.

For example, if you need to place a workstation in an area where the floors need to be cleaned frequently, consider installing work bays and cabinets with stationary raised bases or cabinets on casters. They may provide a better solution than work bays or cabinets that rest directly on the floor.

Similarly, you must choose the correct material for the tops of your work bays and cabinets based on your cleaning needs, and ensure that backsplashes are present where necessary. Be sure that your workstation has the correct type and number of trash storage areas and that sinks are available for technicians in areas where they typically need them.

Finally, good organization and a general sense of tidiness can lead to improved satisfaction on the part of your service team. In-drawer organizers and thorough labeling add to workspace organization and can improve efficiency as well. Cart garages allow rolling carts to be stowed away from work areas when not in use, reducing clutter in high-traffic areas. When there is “a place for everything and everything in its place,” as the old saying goes, workstations become tidier, technicians feel more comfortable and efficiency invariably improves. 

These are just some of the factors to consider when purchasing new work bays for automotive service centers. Talk with your cabinet vendor about your goals and needs to make the most of this important investment.

Tim Vaughan is the vertical market manager for automotive/OPE, storage and workplace solutions at Lista International. [email protected]