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Podcast

How to Maximize Efficiency in Your Diesel Repair Shop

Learn how automated invoicing and data tracking in your repair shop can significantly boost your efficiency and cash flow.

Episode 294:  What if you could boost your repair shop’s efficiency and thrive no matter what the market does? Patrick McKittrick, CEO of Fullbay lifts the hood on the diesel repair shop industry. He stresses the immense benefits of automating your invoicing and data tracking and reveals how doing so can significantly increase efficiency, and bolster your cash flow.

Finally, Patrick reveals how Fullbay was able to grow from 50 employees to around 200, while also quadrupling their customers in just a couple of years. Learn the genius strategies that Fullbay is using to catapult their growth, and how you can replicate them in your own business.

How to Maximize Efficiency in Your Diesel Repair Shop

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Transcript of Episode

Jamie Irvine:

I’m in Las Vegas at AAPEX 2023. It is so good to be back here at this show. This is a show where manufacturers from all over the world come to talk about automotive and heavy-duty parts. We’re going to be interviewing some of the exhibitors, and we’re going to be showing you the sites at AAPEX 2023. So I hope you enjoy not only the interviews, but also getting to see what this show is all about.

Patrick McKittrick:

Hi, I’m Patrick McKittrick, CEO of Fullbay.

Jamie Irvine:

We’re at AAPEX in Las Vegas. It has been a great day. We’ve been able to talk to a lot of different people. Fullbay is a returning guest. The company has been on our program a couple of times. The last time though it’s been awhile. Jacob was on in July of 2021. And so I’m excited to have the opportunity to talk to you today, Patrick, to learn about what’s gone on in the last couple of years. Talk to us a little bit about the trends of what it’s like at a repair shop these days. So we’ve got a lot to talk about. So let’s get into it. So first of all, welcome to the show.

Patrick McKittrick:

Absolutely. Thanks for having me. It was great to see you and great to be here at AAPEX. The show is hopping for sure.

Jamie Irvine:

Absolutely. Okay, so let’s talk a little bit about just the trends at the diesel repair shop level. What have you been seeing in the last couple years? What’s changing? What do we need to know?

Patrick McKittrick:

Yeah, you go back two years and so many things have happened, right? The parts shortage has come and it’s gone and come back a little bit. Technician shortage has come and not really gone. And then the last few months or year or so, the economy has slowed down a little bit, right? Trucking has really taken a hit. The spot rates have come down, contract rates are down, and eventually that trickles down to the repair shops, the internal shops, and the independent guys. So a lot has been going on, and with interest rates continuing to be much higher than people would like them to be, all sorts of operational efficiency becomes more and more important.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah, no, that makes total sense. And I know from the parts perspective, you’re trying to support a repair shop and you want them to buy more from you, but if they don’t have the trucks in the bay to fix, then there’s not much they can do. And it’s not like you want them going out there manufacturing reasons to repair a vehicle.

Patrick McKittrick:

Right, right. You want right maintained not over maintained.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah. That’s right. So when it comes to how an owner or an operator of a repair shop needs to cope with all of these changing things, what is your advice to them? When you talk about operational efficiency, sometimes when these changes happen, it’s the perfect time to change something. What do you think they should be looking at right now in their business?

Patrick McKittrick:

Yeah, that’s a great point. And it is a lot of times you need a trigger to incentivize change because people get used to the way they’ve done things and said, well, it’s always worked, Jamie, why do I need to change it? And now, as people have seen, evolve or die, you will go away if you don’t evolve your business. And one of the biggest things we try to focus shops in on is efficiency. And that has many layers to it. But ultimately, if you can’t run a more efficient business every year, people are going to catch up to you, pass you and your customer is going to become your competitor’s customer at some point. Whether it’s because they’re doing things more efficiently so they can do it cheaper, more efficiently so they can get the truck back on the road quicker or just in general, easier to work with.

Jamie Irvine:

Okay. So let’s break that down because one of the things I heard a lot of people say, especially at the shop level as they said, look, we were too busy before. We had a shortage of people. Every person was booked all the time. We couldn’t stop to make the changes needed. We couldn’t stop to train, we just were too flat out. So if things have gotten a little softer, not quite as busy, let’s talk about two or three of those specific areas that they should look at that would make a big impact on operational efficiency.

Patrick McKittrick:

Yeah, absolutely. You can start off with some really basic things, just the basic process of invoicing that seems so basic. And in 2023, I’m saying to you something that Jacob probably said to you two years ago, which is, man, you’d be amazed how many shops manually create and send invoices. And you might have a shop that has customers on net 30 terms that 30 days doesn’t start until the day they get their invoice, right? So if I take another week or two after I do the work to send the invoice, now all of a sudden I’m floating for 45 days, maybe on a net 30 term. So trying to automate something as simple as creating an invoice, and then you can back it up into the repair process. If I’m going to automate creating the invoice, well that means the data has to be put into a system to create the invoice automatically. And when the data is put into a system and tracked, well, then I don’t forget to build things. How many shops are out there that look up and they’re doing their cycle counts and they realize they’re low on inventory, but they haven’t billed all these parts? Well, that’s because they forgot to build them. And how many hours did they forget to bill along with those parts? How many shop supply fees did they forget to bill? And when you can automate things, you just don’t have the chance to forget. And that’s a big area for people to improve.

Jamie Irvine:

And this has a big impact on the cashflow of the business because if you’re artificially elongating how long it takes for you to get paid, you’re extending it because of this inefficiency then that has that direct impact on how much cash you have available, which impacts how you manage and run your business.

Patrick McKittrick:

It absolutely does. And it’s just an area that a lot of shop owners don’t focus on because they’re focused on let’s turn the wrench as many times as we can, which is great, and we need efficiency at the technician level, but we need to run efficient businesses. And it’s critical for the country that the independent shops thrive because they flat out the dealer network cannot support all the maintenance that has to happen. Internal fleets, a lot of them do their own maintenance. A lot of ’em do some of their own maintenance, right? The fleets that have internal shops still rely on the independent guys, and we need those businesses to be strong. And if you’re not running a financially strong business, it’s going to go away.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah. We’re going to take a quick break to hear from our sponsors. We’ll be right back. This episode of The Heavy Duty Parts Report is brought to you by Find It Parts, your ultimate destination for heavy-duty truck and trailer parts. Discover a vast range of parts at finditparts.com. Don’t spend hours a day looking for parts. Instead, visit finditparts.com and get them right away. Parts availability and quality have a big influence on fleets and owner operators’ total cost of operation, if they can’t find a part, it means more downtime. If they install a low quality part and it fails, it means even more costs like tow bills, hotels, meals for the driver, and lost revenue. That’s why we recommend Sampa. They manufacture a wide range of advanced parts for commercial vehicles. Their website has an intelligent product search engine, and broad coverage of suspension, steering and fifth wheel components. Expect more. Expect Sampa. Visit sampa.com today. Okay, so invoicing, that’s an easy one from the perspective of, it’s a basic one. What’s another area that they should focus on?

Patrick McKittrick:

I’ll say technician efficiency, but in general, getting people to spend their time doing their job, not waiting around, not doing other low value tasks. But if I have a master mechanic who I’m paying $50 an hour, $60 an hour to in some cases, do I really want him walking over to the parts window waiting around pestering the parts manager for, hey, did you order that? When’s it going to get here? He can do all that from his bay. Right? And that’s where you’re eliminating some of the superfluous activities that these guys are doing and focusing them on what you’re paying them to do. So that’s a good one for technician efficiency. The parts manager, same thing. He doesn’t need to be running back and forth to the bays. He needs to be able to clearly get from the tech what’s needed when it’s needed, and he can go off and do his quoting and ordering and get the parts.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah, so as I said, it’s been a couple of years since you’ve been on the show. I know that a lot has changed at Fullbay. Let’s talk a little bit about some of the new things that you’re offering repair shops.

Patrick McKittrick:

Yeah, I mean, a lot has changed, right in two years. So I’m new, obviously Jacob, our founder, was with you last time, and Jacob’s still with us. He’s my boss. He’s the chairman of the board, so he got the promotion from the CEO. But as a company, we’ve evolved, right? If you look back in 2021, we were probably around 50 to 60 employees, probably getting close to a thousand customers. We have almost 200 employees today, three or 4,000 customers. So we’ve really grown and we’ve done that because we focus in on heavy duty repair. We want to be good at one thing and really, really work at it. So we spent a lot of time and money investing in the product. So a couple of new things. We have integrated a payments offering into the platform. So now a customer can, or a shop can take payment from their customer directly in Fullbay.

Jamie Irvine:

So that kind of takes that automation from invoicing right through to payment.

Patrick McKittrick:

Exactly. If the shop is storing the credit card, they can with authorization, just ding the card or they can physically swipe a card. Or even better, a customer of a shop can go into their portal, see all the service history of their vehicle, and any open invoices and just pay their invoices right there.

Jamie Irvine:

Fantastic. So what else is new?

Patrick McKittrick:

So we’ve worked really hard on some of the communication between the shops and their customers. So a lot more messaging triggers and opportunities. We’ve introduced more text messaging we’ll have coming out here pretty shortly, two-way text messaging, so a customer can actually respond to the SMS message. And that’s been really helpful. And then another big one, we made an acquisition last April of a company called Dieselmatic. So Fullbay and Dieselmatic joined forces. Dieselmatic focuses on driving digital marketing just for heavy duty shops. And Fullbay had started out offering some basic websites for customers because there was a need. There was a lot of customers who didn’t have a website.

Jamie Irvine:

Well, they’re focused on running their shop, not on being a marketing company,

Patrick McKittrick:

And we could offer them a website that was better than not having a website, but we weren’t professional digital marketing folks. So we acquired Dieselmatic. And this team is wholly focused on not just creating awesome websites for customers, but helping manage their SEO and SEM, all of their content creation, right? You as a shop, you don’t want to have somebody writing articles and blogs. Dieselmatic does that for you. And as you can build your brand, it certainly helps them to attract new customers. But even today, it helps attract employees, right? Employer branding is dramatically undervalued. Everyone talks about the tech shortage, but then they kind of forget, wow, I need to market to candidates. So the Dieselmatic crew has been incredible. That business has grown really, really well the past year and a half. And so we’re excited because Fullbay helps you optimize the way you manage the business. You already have. Diesematic helps you get more business to then optimize and run really well.

Jamie Irvine:

You have to have that critical first step to get your business organized well, make it efficient, and then you can scale.

Patrick McKittrick:

Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

Jamie Irvine:

That’s fantastic. Well, congratulations on all your success. Thank you for taking some time to visit with us and talk to our audience. If people want to learn more, they should go to fullbay.com.

Patrick McKittrick:

Yep. Fullbay.com on the top right corner, you can request a demo, and we’re really good at getting back to you quickly on that. So yeah, if you hit that button, then we will reach out very shortly.

Jamie Irvine:

Well, thank you again.

Patrick McKittrick:

Yeah thanks for having me. It’s good to see you.

Jamie Irvine:

What a great week that we’ve had here in Las Vegas. This is such an excellent show where manufacturers of automotive and heavy-duty parts come together to talk about the real issues. We’ve had some great conversations that I’m anxious to share with you. It was a good week. We can’t wait to come back next year. If you haven’t followed the show yet, head over to heavydutypartsreport.com. You can follow the show for free, or you can subscribe on YouTube or wherever you get your podcasts. Either way, don’t forget to follow the show so you never miss out on any of the great content that we’re putting out, including interviews from AAPEX ’23 in Las Vegas.

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