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As an all-makes repair facility, Clark’s Truck Center in Plattsburgh, N.Y., has to apply a comprehensive approach to meet a wide range of customers’ needs. “It takes an even stronger commitment to shop efficiency and productivity when your facility works on all types of commercial trucks as well as emergency vehicles,” says Wade Eagle, service manager. “The practices and technologies we use are what allow us to minimize downtime for service and repairs.”
The Clark’s Truck Center facility in Plattsburgh services customers in three New York counties along Lake Champlain and the Canadian border. The company also has a location in Jericho, Vt., which serves that entire state. The operations are authorized International and Mitsubishi Fuso truck and Cummins engine dealers and service providers.
The 18,000-sq. ft. shop in Plattsburgh that Eagle manages has 16 bays, including one equipped with a Bee Line alignment system, and one with a truck lift. On weekdays at the facility, seven technicians provide a full range of maintenance, repair and rebuilding solutions, including DPF cleaning and emissions system services. The shop also offers after hours road service and 24/7 towing and recovery.
A select network
“Our programs and practices showcase the emphasis we place on service efficiency, which leads to satisfying customer demands,” Eagle says. “For example, we use advanced diagnostics solutions and accelerated service procedures to minimize downtime.
“Clark’s Truck Center is a Diamond Edge Certified International dealer, which means our customers can expect faster turnaround time, immediate parts availability and a higher level of expertise,” Eagle continues. “As part of that select network of service operations, we also collaborate to support our customers with the Clark’s location in Vermont, and with other dealers, by email, phone and through document sharing.”
The customer experience at Clark’s Truck Center begins in an Accelerated Service Lane, Eagle explains. There, issues are written up within 15 minutes of a truck’s arrival and a diagnosis by a technician is completed in two hours or less.
“During check-in and the initial evaluation,” Eagle relates, “we use International’s Accelerator Write-Up mobile application on tablets and the manufacturer’s OnCommand Connection telematics solution for diagnostics. After evaluating the vehicle, and determining parts requirements and availability, customers are informed of required repairs and given an estimated repair time.
“We’re also fully integrated with the Cummins and Navistar Dealer Inventory Alliance (DIA) management system to ensure common parts are readily available in our inventory,” Eagle adds. “All of these processes facilitate expedited and efficient service for customers. They also provide Clark’s with a direct payback from increased shop productivity and technician efficiency, and reduce lost efficiencies that can have an impact on service revenue and parts sales.”
Another way that Clark’s Truck Center is maximizing shop throughput, according to Eagle, is with Work in Process (WIP) reports. The program tracks every vehicle from the time it enters the facility through the different stages of completion it is in at the service location. The main goal of WIP, he notes, is to be able to measure and optimize processes to ensure maximum productivity and efficiency, which lowers downtime for service and repair operations.
“We also use a visual management board to communicate shop floor and service event status,” Eagle points out. “The board captures the work flow in the shop and at any given moment lets us see at a glance what’s happening with every vehicle, in every bay. It provides important management information just by looking at it, in as little time as possible.”
For measuring its service department’s performance, Clark’s Truck Center in Plattsburgh uses multiple metrics in its CDK Global dealership management software, including measurements of gross margins, revenue, expenses, profit and productivity. “The metrics can be broken down into various categories so we can identify the measurements we want to focus on,” Eagle explains further. “We can then share specific information at periodic intervals with the service department team to communicate their progress toward achieving our goals.”
Eagle also relates that the Clark’s Truck Center management team regularly reviews benchmarks provide by International to compare its performance against other Diamond Edge Certified dealers. For example, a measurement of repair velocity can indicate its success in meeting the goal of having an average overall dwell time of less than five days for all vehicles serviced at the location. Other measurements cover things like the number of warranty repairs that are completed in one day or less.
“It takes a serious commitment to be an elite service department and ensure our customers receive the highest level of service,” Eagle says. “As part of that approach we have the latest in technical training tools and an extensive training program. That way we can make sure that our technicians, service advisors and management personnel stay current with changing technology and service procedures.”
To address the need for new technicians at Clark’s Truck Center, Eagle reports that the company advertises on several platforms and uses programs like Navistar’s Universal Technical Institute (UTI). Graduates of the International Technician Education Program have completed an intense training curriculum to become very familiar with the OEM’s vehicles, technologies and applications.
Getting it right the first time
“Without the support of manufacturers like International and Cummins, we would not be successful,” Eagle says. “At the same time, Clark’s Truck Center has recognized the importance of training its management staff in the most effective ways of communicating, planning, problem solving and decision making.
“The company has made it possible for me to take leadership training courses to help identify my strengths and weaknesses as a manager,” Eagle adds. “That way, I can figure out what I can do to improve and help the service department team to accomplish its objectives efficiently and effectively.
“Our entire high-performance service department is not just focused on completing service and repairs faster but on getting things done right the first time,” Eagle concludes. “Improving uptime and value are better for our business and for providing a best-in-class customer experience.”