It takes a team to keep trucks moving smoothly through a shop facility and back onto the road, notes Shelley Oldenburg, medium-duty service manager at Kriete Truck Center—Madison.
For Oldenburg, one management skill in particular is always beneficial. “Keeping everyone, including technicians, service advisors and parts personnel, fully engaged in the process leads to lower costs and maximum uptime for customers,” she points out.
One of eight Kriete Truck Centers, the Madison shop is a 29-bay facility staffed by 32 technicians 24/7 Monday through Friday and on Saturday morning. Kriete Group, headquartered in Milwaukee, has sales, leasing and rental operations, and service, parts, and body shops across Wisconsin.
At Kriete Truck Center—Madison, eight technicians who report to Oldenburg focus on medium-duty brands while 15 work on heavy-duty models and nine are assigned to the body shop. Recently, the facility broke ground on an expansion that will add 12 bays to its shop, a 7,500-sq.-ft. parts warehouse, and a state-of-the-art paint booth.
“Kriete Truck Centers sells and services Hino, Fuso, Mack and Volvo products, but we perform preventive maintenance, repairs, body work, and major component warranty service on virtually all makes and models of heavy- and medium-duty trucks,” Oldenburg relates. “What that means is that attracting and retaining technicians are top priorities.
“We need the most experienced and highly-trained technicians in the industry so we offer performance-based competitive wages, an excellent benefits package and a clean and safe work environment,” Oldenburg continues. “And we’re always building our bench of next-generation technicians through partnerships with local diesel technical colleges. We feel that growing our own future technicians will help offset the shortage our industry faces.”
Technicians at Kriete, Oldenburg notes, have a set training path that includes being mentored by senior technicians and online training modules. There is also OEM training such as the Hino Techcast live monthly program.
“We also support our technicians with state-of-the-art tools,” Oldenburg says. “Like most truck service facilities, Kriete Truck Center – Madison leverages a broad selection of standard and manufacturer specific technologies.
Proper service path
“When a vehicle arrives at our shop, a service advisor performs a walk around inspection and accesses diagnostic data using Noregon and Nexiq diagnostic systems,” Oldenburg explains further. “Our service advisors are experienced in reading fault codes and assessing the work that is needed. Then, with our foreman, they establish a proper service path for each truck.
“Based on diagnostic results, the truck is routed to the appropriate bay for repairs,” Oldenburg continues. “We have Uptime Bays designated specifically for work that can be completed within two hours. That also prevents short jobs from getting caught behind long jobs.
“Trucks requiring more extensive diagnostics and repairs are routed to an Advanced Bay,” Oldenburg adds. “In those cases, our Master and Elite technicians have their own computers so they can begin diagnostics, work on repairs and input notes. They also have access to live assistance through online platforms such as Tech Assist from Hino.”
As a Hino Certified Ultimate Dealer and a Mack and Volvo Certified Uptime Dealer, Kriete Truck Center—Madison has adopted best-in-class processes and procedures, Oldenburg says. “Achieving those certifications meant changing the way our bays are utilized and how workspaces are organized,” she relates. “For example, we optimized workspaces to make the use of and access to tools and parts more efficient.”
Closing the communication loop
Kriete Truck Centers shops also use Hino Insight Case Management and Mack and Volvo ASIST platforms for communicating within the organization, with other dealers, and with customers. “These platforms allow us to distribute our repair work appropriately and prevent overbooking,” Oldenburg says. “Technicians can also request authorization for repairs and notify customers of all pertinent information via Insight and ASIST, closing the communication loop for all parties with little effort.
“With the service management platforms, technicians can also request parts required for a job, which are brought to the work station,” Oldenburg continues. “Additionally, when service advisors are working on estimates, they can see what parts we have in stock and what has to be ordered, allowing us to have the parts on hand when we need them. We also share parts inventory information with all Kriete locations, so if we don’t have the part we need we can get it quickly from one of our other facilities.”
Kriete Truck Centers, according to Oldenburg, maintains an extensive inventory of OEM and aftermarket replacement parts for all makes of heavy- and medium-duty trucks. The majority of parts, she adds, are sourced through OEMs using inventory management systems—such as the new Parts Eye platform from Hino, implemented this past summer—to automatically maintain stock levels based on demand.
“All of these technologies allow more time to be focused on the job at hand and increased throughput for technicians,” Oldenburg says. “We know how well we’re performing for the customer because we fully utilize our dealer management system to monitor the efficiency and productivity of each technician, as well as our overall shop operation.”
“Efficiency is a measure of time on a repair order,” Oldenburg says. “For our technicians it’s used to calculate bonuses and pay raises when they outperform our key standards. It’s especially helpful as a teaching tool for new technicians, and it lets us adjust fairly for experienced staff when they are assigned to mentor our new hires.”
With the service management platforms, technicians can request parts required for a job, which are brought to the work station.
When service advisors are working on estimates, they can see what parts we have in stock and what has to be ordered. –Shelley Oldenburg
Measurements of proficiency account for indirect labor, Oldenburg explains further. For example, there might be costs that are not charged to a customer, such as those for a repeat repair or warranty work. There is also training time and labor for tasks such as removing snow from vehicles in the yard.
Delivering the best experience
“Regardless of the service we’re performing, we’re dedicated to delivering the best experience possible, honestly and fairly,” Oldenburg says. “We can help lower operating costs through routine maintenance, or maximize uptime with timely repairs or emergency assistance. We can schedule service and repair work in advance, or work around a customer’s schedule to make sure vehicles are available when they are needed.”
For all of its efforts, Kriete Truck Center—Madison has earned the highest status in the Hino Honors excellence program for five years in a row. The recognition is based on several measures of technician training and certification, workspace efficiency, as well as customer satisfaction surveys.
In reality, those goals are nothing new for Oldenburg, who joined Kriete Truck Centers nine years ago as a service advisor and was named medium-duty service manager two and a half years later. The industry veteran also spent 15 years in the service operation at another truck dealership.
“As a manager,” Oldenburg says, “I use all the skills and knowledge I’ve learned over the years to engage everyone in making uptime for our customers a priority.”