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Several months ago, we ran a couple of posts concerning the egregious state of the motorcycle service desk and mechanical expertise at BMW Toronto's Motorrad shop. Kicking it off was an open letter, http://esr.cc/zbPVXR, we sent to the Brothers Quinn, proprietors of the downtown Toronto BMW car and bike dealership.
Well, we're pleased to report that some change is finally afoot.
For thankless years Andrew Charters, below, manned the Motorrad desk, writing up service orders, wrangling techs and placating pissed customers. Last year, he gave it up - out of frustration, over his inability to do his job because of ill-trained or unmotivated techs, seemingly disinterested management and no end to it in sight. He then went to work in the parts dept, where he led a quiet, blissful existence.
That was up until just before last Xmas, when a large insect trapped in his bonnet caused him to pitch the notion to the Bros. that he was, in fact, the man to whip their Motorrad service dept. into shape. They bought it, green- lighted him and he's a few months into it now.
EatSleepRIDE had a long chat with Charters yesterday. He started off by saying that, in his agreement with the Quinns, he'd given himself two years to pull it off. Asked what the problem had been all those years, he said one problem with running a motorcycle repair shop in Canada, is that for 4-5 months of the year you have virtually no business, yet you still have to pay your techs and service-desk jockeys, or lay them all off and hope they return to work come springtime.
Another challenge is making enough money through riding season to keep you in potatoes through the winter.
And to do all that, you need a very well organized scheduling and repair system, with journeyman techs who work fast and seldom make mistakes. Errors are what were previously killing shop profits -- and management's interest in fixing it.
'Say you put an hour of service into a bike and send it out fixed,' explained Charters, 'and then the customer returns it because it's not fixed, you then have to take as long as it takes to actually fix it properly - and generally for free. Meanwhile, you've got other bikes piling up, techs are getting stressed, customers have to be called and told their bike won't be ready as promised. It's a nightmare.'
So what's he doing differently?
So far, he's hired a new tech who is undergoing training and 'helping us fix all the problems that remained from last year.' He says he's reorganizing the service system, and making a business case for management approvals on the expenditures he needs to make the service side of Motorrad hum.
'It's a pretty big work in progress,' said Charters with a sigh, but also with an optimistic note to his voice,' adding 'I hope our customers will see positive change by springtime.'
So do we - and we'll keep following this story.