Some shops have a shop foreman and others don’t. Me, I am a shop foreman kind of guy. I have always had a shop foreman. It started when I first got in the business. I was hired as a center manager for a major chain and did not know anything about how a transmission shop operated. I could sell it but after that it was pretty much a blur to me. I knew right away I was over my head and needed some help.

 

I had a lot of questions, so I picked one guy out in the shop and I made him my answer man. I figured that when I asked a production or technical question, and he gave me my answer, I could figure out what to do next. I created a shop foreman position for the poor guy and kind of made up his job description as I went along. I was lucky. Paul was a great technician and soon became my right-hand man.

 

He was my go-to guy and my partner in production. He advised me and expedited my plans. He kept the ball rolling when I was busy and always had my back. We would have a production meeting first thing in the morning and set the workflow schedule together. During the rest of the day he made sure that everything got done in the right order and without delay.

 

He became the leader on the floor. Paul set the pace in the shop. He led by example. He worked at a solid pace and everybody else followed. He kept an eye out for problems that got in the way and took care of them before they slowed down production. He taught the other techs his bag of tricks that saved them time and make their job easier.

 

The shop foreman made sure everyone was working. He knew the production order and stayed one step ahead. He would clear a lift and bring in the next job and set it up for the installer. He might put the transmission on a jack and roll it under the vehicle then hook up the cooler line flusher for the installer. The foreman was helpful to everybody. If they had a problem he usually had a solution that kept them working.

 

He took care of the warranty issues so the other employees could work on the money jobs and keep the cash flow coming in. He was a salesman. Paul stayed clean and presentable. I would take him under the lift with me for show and tell with the customer. He answered the phone when I was on a road test and took messages for me.

 

He was also an R&R man when he needed to keep things running smoothly. If he needed to remove a transmission so the builder could do an RDI and get me a worn-and-damaged parts list, he worked that into his day. He would even shop for those parts for me in order to keep the ball rolling. He was my parts expert. I did not know a pump gear from valve body back then. It was all Greek to me. I would get a parts breakdown from the builder and could figure up the selling price, but that was as far as it went. He ordered the parts after I sold the job and checked them in when they got there to make sure they were the right parts.

 

Paul was in charge of quality control. He was the diagnostician when it came in and he did the final road test – before I delivered the vehicle back to the customer – to make sure the problem had been corrected. He even repaired and maintained the equipment in the shop. In short, he spoiled me.

 

My first shop foreman was very important to me when I was in training as a young manager. I could not have made it without Paul. That experience convinced me that every shop needs a good shop foreman if you can find a good one. Consider these factors regarding the shop-foreman position:

Qualifications

Master diagnostician: He must have the training and experience to accurately diagnose any problem that a customer brings to the shop.

Organizational skills: He will need to be a disciplined worker that can stay with a set plan yet be flexible enough to create a solution if something unforeseen comes up.

• Leadership ability: This is probably as important as the other two requirements put together. The other techs have to respect him. That is earned on the floor every day in a transmission shop.

Advantages

• Fast and accurate diagnostics: When you have a shop foreman, his main responsibility is to get the diagnosis completed ASAP. He does it all day and it is his job, so his diagnostics will be faster and more accurate.

• Efficiency: The shop runs more efficiently when a manager and a shop foreman work together all day to keep the sales, parts, works in progress and warranty problems moving.

• Quality control: When the shop foreman diagnoses every vehicle as it comes in and does every final road test before it is delivered, he knows that the problem the customer had when he came in was resolved.

 

Paul and I were a good team. He taught me how to expedite work flow. I will always be in his debt for that. As I moved through my career as a general manager of multiple shops and later a shop owner, I set up every shop with a shop foreman. A good shop foreman makes everybody’s day a little better. It just makes more sense to me to have a shop foreman. It makes my job easier and also makes me more money.

Art Little is the founder of TransTeam, a management support company that provides transmission shop owners with employees, training and leads. The popular TransTeam website has served as the National Employment Headquarters for the transmission industry since 1997. Online training and certification testing for transmission shop center managers are also available at the site. The Nationwide TransTeam Wholesale Club is generating low-cost Internet leads for TransTeam shop owner members nationwide now. If you need help with recruiting employees, training or lead generation, visit the TransTeam.com website or call Art at 888-859-0994.

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