Start monitoring service department performance

One of the main responsibilities of fixed operations directors and managers is monitoring department performance. With so much data on operations, where should fixed ops management begin their monitoring activities?


One of the main tools in the fixed ops director's toolkit should be an information dashboard, which allows for at-a-glance performance monitoring of the service department.

Performance monitoring and service processes

Your Dealer Management System's role is to help your department execute core business processes. Simultaneously, it generates data and information on these processes. Your DMS is the backbone of your data collection on operations. Any attempt at analytical performance monitoring and management of your department should start with the data in your DMS.

Performance monitoring initiatives start from your service processes. In addition, you may have other systems such as CRM, websites, marketing automation tools to name a few. Data collection is already happening in the context of these systems through defined processes. Your service advisors, technicians, parts counter employees, receptionists and even business development reps are already "knowledge workers", at least in the sense that they help generate data on which decisions can be made.

Monitoring multiple systems and processes, as well as the human interaction involved, can be tough. To get started, you should prioritize among performance improvement opportunities and execute analytic initiatives with the most expected business value and highest feasibility under given budgetary constraints. There will be more guidance on this in my next post in this series: Prioritizing performance initiatives for fixed ops .

Actionable metrics in the context of business processes

Why should we practice performance monitoring, instead of just getting things done, ie. what's the goal of performance monitoring? 

The primary role of fixed ops performance monitoring, regardless of the application, is to produce decisions. In order to do this, managers need to have a situational awareness. And this process is supported by information dashboards, here are the stages of that process (as outlined in Stephen Few's Information Dashboard Design):

  • 1
    Update high-level situation awareness
  • 2
    Identify and focus on particular items that need attention
  • 3
    If action is required [...] determine an appropriate response
  • 4
Too much data, too little information

When working with clients who want to start managing operations based on facts, I often hear the lament: "we have so much data and we just don't know where to start". "Too much data, too little information" is another turn of phrase I hear often. It's meant to suggest that we're drowning in a sea of context-free data. Give me a break!

Data and information are, taken by themselves, unhelpful. As a fixed ops director you arguably already have plenty of data and information.

What you possibly don't have is actionable metrics arranged in the form of an information dashboard. Performance monitoring is aided by an information dashboard which consists in actionable metrics arranged on a single screen for at-a-glance monitoring.

For your department I suggest you ask the following question when getting started with performance monitoring: Given our current service processes, which data on the given business facts (appointments, write-ups, service ops, parts etc.) are useful in guiding desired outcomes? In addition, which data is currently poorly entered and codified?

Conluding thoughts

  • A major responsibility of fixed ops management is the monitoring of performance
  • Service processes, and the data generated therein, are the foundation of any performance monitoring applications
  • Actionable metrics are those metrics which allow you to visualize and report on repeatable actions and outcomes within and across service department processes
  • The next part in this series deals with ​Prioritizing performance initiatives for fixed ops​​​
Henrik provides Business Intelligence solutions to automotive dealers. Our aim is to "show not tell" how Dealer Principals and Fixed Ops Directors can access and action analytics in their operations. We integrate first and third party data for marketing operations and process improvements. Contact us by phone: +1-(518)-401-0225 / +358 40 532 6009 or shoot us an email:

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