In a world full of emerging auto repair trends like using auto repair shop management software to automate processes, business owners have been busy trying to keep up with technological advancements over the last few years. However, fundamental principles such as changing your shop layout shouldn’t be forgotten when looking for ways to transform your business.
Revamping your shop’s layout can help improve efficiency, reduce the likelihood of accidents, and improve the customer journey. Here are 4 auto shop layout ideas for your auto repair business.
1. Manage space effectively
The size of your shop is just as important as how you use it. Dimensions of 23 x 60 feet are ideal for most small workshops, according to YouTuber and industry expert, The Mechanic OC. With proper space allocation, you can work on multiple cars in what might seem like a relatively confined area. If you’re starting your design from scratch, it helps to plan just how much space you’ll need. During this stage, remember to allocate space for:
- Parking cars you haven’t started working on and those awaiting customer pick-up after a job.
- Organizing equipment and tools.
- Storing spare parts.
- Working on vehicles.
- Waiting area for customers.
Keep equipment in the right place
Your shop’s size determines what types of vehicles and machinery will fit inside. A two-post lift is a necessity for any repair shop to conduct inspections and repairs. But, how much space does a lift take up, and what’s the best way to position one?
You’ll need around 15 feet of horizontal space for a lift. Position one of the arms right up against a wall while placing the other around 11 feet away, as shown in the image above. The Mechanic OC says that having this much room is ideal for right about any repair job. Additionally, it’s also important to leave around 4 feet empty next to the lift arm. This makes moving your toolbox around easier to work on the rear-end of cars, as shown in this video.
When you position your bays, leave space between them to prevent collisions between cars and make evacuating easy during emergencies.
Improve your shop’s aesthetics while increasing storage
Almost every building has an awkward space that you can’t use without compromising on your shop’s look. However, you can store repair equipment by adding doors to these places. Similarly, a DIY hidden tool storage workbench provides quick access to equipment. This helps declutter and organize your shop while saving time during repair jobs since your technicians won’t waste time looking for the right tools.
2. Professionalize the waiting room
First impressions matter while running a business. A clean and well-put-together waiting room can improve the customer experience and can make customers more likely to perceive your shop in a professional light.
Customers should have minimal exposure to the service bays from the waiting area. An excellent way to do that is by maximizing the distance between your workshop and the waiting room. Here are some benefits to doing so:
- Customers can enjoy a magazine with minimal noise from the bay.
- You don’t have to worry about customers walking into heavy machinery and injuring themselves.
However, distancing the waiting room from the service bay may not be feasible in smaller shops. In such cases, adding a thick protective glass panel between the waiting room and service bay would suffice.
When designing your waiting room, ensure that it’s easy to clean and can accommodate everyone who brings their car in. Research from JD Power reveals that 64% of people at mechanic shops wait while getting their cars fixed. Encourage impulse purchases by adding a display shelf with your best consumer-grade products, such as car wax.
Waiting rooms open doors for shop owners to offer additional services such as tire rotations, coolant top-offs, and wiper-blade replacements. Since you’re already working on their cars, customers are more likely to agree to these jobs, which could increase your shop’s average repair order size.
3. Make your shop a safe space
A well-designed auto shop layout keeps everyone in the building safe. A repair shop can carry various safety hazards—there’s heavy equipment lying around, cars on lifts, chances of fires because of electrical and mechanical faults in vehicles, and countless other potential threats. Bearing this in mind, here are a few ways to organize your shop layout for greater safety:
- Take precautions against fires: Fires can arise when working with flammable substances, so place these as far away from sparks and heat sources, such as electrical outlets and heavy machinery. Additionally, your shop should have ample well-maintained B fire extinguishers to comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) requirements.
- Keep safety equipment close: To reduce accidents caused by laziness, it’s a good idea to designate spots for protective equipment close to where technicians work. Place hangers near service bays where techs can store their overalls, gloves, and protective goggles.
- Factor in an evacuation route: The OSHA requires all workplaces to have at least two unobstructed fire exits. Additionally, you should have an evacuation plan that your customers and employees are aware of.
- Install sufficient lighting: With the right lighting, your store will not only look good, but there will be fewer hazards too. Customers are less likely to trip over objects, and employees are less likely to make costly mistakes, leading to a better overall process.
- Reduce hazards: It’s important to restrict customer access to areas with heavy machinery and ensure that every employee handling such equipment uses the appropriate protective equipment. Doing so can help drive down auto repair business insurance liability and reduce worker’s compensation payouts.
4. Positioning and equipping your bays for maximum productivity
Toyota’s Express Maintenance program is one of the best models for repair shops to adopt. This entails parking vehicles close to the service bay to reduce time spent driving. The program uses a “pit crew” approach—teams of technicians work on each car to inspect and service parts. Each tech is assigned a certain job to do, so while some of them work under the hood, the rest inspect the wheels and brakes. Here’s what happens during the Express Maintenance:
- Oil and filter change along with other fluids.
- Tire inspection and rotation.
- Vehicle inspection.
Areas of concern revealed during the maintenance can be quickly addressed since the required tools are placed on three sides of the service bay. These bays are placed close to save time, since industry experts recommend that each technician should cover 1.5 of them. Similarly, positioning toolboxes and spare parts close by can also help reduce the amount of time each car spends idle on a bay while techs look for appropriate tools.
You’ve done the hard work of optimizing your auto repair shop layout to be more efficient, safe, and improve overall aesthetics. Now it’s time to see the results come in. After revamping your shop’s floor plan, you may want to invest in modern auto repair shop software that will help you sell more, save time, and empower techs while providing real-time insights to track your shop’s health.