Changing Problems versus Fixing Them

Terry here.

Have you heard that you can crack an egg into a radiator to plug the leak? Even if it works for a time, all it does is change the problem. The leak may be temporarily stopped, but now there’s an egg in your radiator.

What’s my point?

I’ve owned a shop for over 40 years. For the last 17 years, I’ve also spent countless hours helping my fellow shop owners. And I have seen the same problem over and over: we love changing the problem instead of fixing it.

The article below is titled “Can You Stop Pencil Whipping by Removing the Pencil?” It’s about how shop owners can stop being trapped by no-value solutions that change the problem instead of fixing it.
 


 

Angry Hand as Punch on Table

Pencil whipping, if you’ve never heard the term, is when somebody rushes through a form, checking boxes just to make it look like they did the work.  They don’t know what the form says, they just want to be done.

In shops, that usually refers to the technicians doing inspections.

When a tech pencil whips an inspection form, they rush through items they don’t want to do, check the ones they enjoy, and leave your shop liable for a potential mess.

After all, that’s your logo on the top of the page and your technician’s signature on the bottom where it says the customer’s brake pads and hoses passed inspections.  And when that customer sues you, the judge sees that logo and that signature and calls it an open and shut case.

Pencil whipping doesn’t just cost you money.  It can cost you your shop.

 

How do you stop techs from pencil whipping inspections?

 

That depends on if you want to change the problem or fix the problem.

I’ve owned a shop for over 40 years. For the last 17 years, I’ve also spent countless hours helping my fellow shop owners. And I have seen the same problem over and over: we love changing the problem instead of fixing it.

Have you heard that you can crack an egg into a radiator to plug the leak? Even if it works for a time, all it does is change the problem.  The leak may be temporarily stopped, but now there’s an egg in your radiator.

Which is why, when it comes to pencil whipping, the problem isn’t the form.

Yes, good forms are part of a good inspection procedure. No argument there. But changing how your techs fill out your inspection form and not changing how you hold them accountable for filling it out properly does absolutely nothing to fix the problem.

 

Why am I telling you this?

 

I recently saw an ad for a new service that gets rid of paper inspection forms by putting them online.  Their promise: no more pencil whipping.  By letting a tech choose “brake fluid is dirty” from a dropdown list, goes the reasoning, the tech won’t skip that part of the inspection.

Just crack an egg into that radiator…the leak is gone!

 

Fixing a shop — really, actually fixing it — can’t be done with shortcuts.

 

Putting the inspection form online does absolutely nothing for your knowledge of the efficiency and effectiveness of that technician because it doesn’t even try to measure it. Never mind that discovering a problem is only the first step.

Because then there’s still training, accountability, and ongoing tracking and measurement.

 

A Dose of Truth

 

  • You can’t go from disorganization and chaos overnight.
  • You can’t go from unprofitable to profitable overnight.
  • You can’t go from micromanager to remote manager overnight.

Even the RPM ToolKit — built from 40 years of blood, sweat and tears, built using every ounce of knowledge I have about running a profitable shop — isn’t a no-effort fix.

It’s not an easy truth. But the sooner you realize it, the sooner you’ll ignore the shop “solutions” that change the problem instead of fixing them.

Want to fix pencil whipping? Measure, track, train, adjust, incentivize and hold your techs accountable.

The sooner you stop looking for the next $49 solution that will fix your shop for good with no effort required, the sooner you can get to work getting the shop you want.

The RPM ToolKit isn’t magic. It’s not an EASY button. But it is…

  • The tools to measure your team
  • The benchmarks and training you need to hold them accountable
  • The roadmap to learn how to fix your shop from the ground up

All you need is the will to stop settling for changing problems and to decide to actually fix them.

Learn more: Request a Demo

Originally published October 17, 2013