Make it a game.

In the popular 1980’s book, The Game of Work, author Charles Coonradt wrote, “People will pay for the privilege of working harder than they will work when they are paid.” He was referring, of course, to the fact that people will put tremendous effort into recreation, when it may be even more physically and mentally demanding than their paid day job. I couldn’t agree more.

The reverse can also be true. What if you paid to watch a basketball game and they forgot to supply the players and the audience with a scoreboard? Tall men running up and down the court shooting baskets that don’t count. The audience would quickly become bored and walk out, with the players right behind them! You may laugh, but this is what it is like to work in most collision repair centers. It’s no wonder most body shop leaders complain about lack of engagement from their teams.

We live in a “Candy Crush” world where people play silly games simply because a score exists to continually challenge them. We can apply this thinking in our businesses and create an environment that offers continual improvement, challenges, and even fun!

The Morning Meeting

Many shop leaders disagree with me on this, but I believe a great opportunity is lost when collision repair companies refuse to gather the entire team together in the morning for a brief “release meeting.” The reason for this disagreement stems from outdated thinking that says, “in order to be productive, we must keep the men working non-stop and not waste time in a meeting.” Given the quality of most meetings I witness, they may be right. Most of the time. However, if you structure your meetings correctly, the team can be even more productive!

A great morning meeting should include not only expectations for the day’s work, but also time for sharing how the team’s hard work is contributing to the success of the company and the company’s mission. If a body shop wants to win the game, the team needs to know how to win and how the company keeps score.

If a body shop wants to win the game, the team needs to know how to win and how the company keeps score.

Scoreboard

A simple way to keep score is by placing a large whiteboard out in the shop where the morning meetings are held. Use this board to document critical action items required to keep vehicles going home on time; but equally important, use this board as a scoreboard. Ask yourself, “What does winning mean at my shop?” Carefully choose KPIs (key performance indicators) that not only matter, but can also be directly influenced by the team’s actions. I believe it is also important that when the team is not “winning” the KPI game, that leadership coach and lead the team to eventual victory!

I have worked with shops that set their KPI targets based on their perception of their competition’s performance or the industry benchmarks. While I am a fan of setting stretch goals, I hate seeing an unrealistic scoreboard that continually suggests that the team are a bunch of losers. In these situations, the scoreboard creates the opposite effect we need and actually de-motivates the staff. Wise leadership incrementally raises the benchmarks as the team continually improves its performance, just like a video game!

Another word of advice is consistency. If leadership wants to create a winning team, those numbers have got to be posted consistently every day, week, or whatever the particular KPI requires. Engagement requires consistency.

Key Performance Indicators

On the white board we want to see the written target score for various KPIs and then the actual score next to it. Some KPIs I frequently see and recommend include:

  • Overall cycle time days, touch time, and in-production repair cycle time days
  • Customer satisfaction index scores, Net promoter scores
  • Labor hours turned
  • Sales dollars
  • Part returns percent
  • Number of process wins/failures due to blueprint success/failure

Conclusion

In today’s collision repair world, it is increasingly difficult to keep employees engaged and motivated. Any progress a business can take to make daily work feel more like a game increases the likelihood of reaching their potential for both workplace enjoyment and profitability. Leadership is not a title, so regardless of your position at the body shop, you can make a difference at work by implementing some of the strategies in this article. Go have some fun!

We would love to hear how you, our readers, apply “game thinking” at your businesses. Please leave a comment below!