Developing the Plan To Improve Mean Copies between Calls

In our previous articles, we discussed the reasons why Mean Copies between Calls (MCBC) is the most important metric, and we looked at some of the issues that impact that value. In this article, we want to start trying to find ways to address the issues in the service department.

Start at the Top

The commitment to address the issue and change your philosophy has to start at the most senior levels in the company. In most cases the goals, metrics and practices will be significantly different than your current ones. If the owner/president is not behind these changes, it may be impossible to get the changes made.

The senior management team needs to understand that there may be bumps in the road as you move forward, but if you stay the course, the end result will be more profit, happier customers, and easier sales.

Articulate the New Philosophy to the Team

Once this decision is made, it is important that everyone involved understand the plan and why it will help them. You must understand that change is difficult for most people, and they will only participate if they see an advantage to themselves.

In most dealerships, these changes will impact the parts department, dispatch department, and the service departments. You will want to identify how the changes will affect these groups. Initially, things may get worse for a period of time before they start to get better. Expect this to happen and plan for it.

My Experience

Here is a quick story to illustrate how staying the course will make things better in the end. I took over the service department of a company years ago. They had been on a bonus program that rewarded high calls per day and low parts usage. When I first arrived, the company had 10 techs that were sharing a carryover load of 100 calls per day.

After evaluating the situation, I told the owners that things were going to get worse before they got better and that their parts cost was going up. I changed the techs’ process to make them completely fix every machine before moving to the next. In the beginning, our calls went from 100 to about 160 carryover calls, and the dispatcher and I spent our days on the phone explaining to customers that things would get better.

At the end of 6 months we were down to carrying over about 30 Hold for Parts (HP) calls each day. The customers were happy again and the dispatcher and I could breathe easy. I had technicians perform courtesy calls to keep them busy.

Develop and Enforce Procedures that Achieve Your Goal

Since you have analyzed your department, you should know what areas need attention. Here are suggestions for your procedures that you may find useful. One thing to keep in mind is that procedures are dynamic documents that will change as you continue through this process.

During this process, it is a necessity to involve the technicians as much as possible. The more input the technicians feel they have, the more likely you are to get their buy-in and they will accept the changes that are made. You will additionally find that their input will often improve the procedures that you are developing.

One of the more important documents to create and enforce is a minimum call procedure. After looking at what has caused your recalls in the past, ask yourself if you could change your minimum call procedure to prevent that type of recall in the future.

For example, at the company I mentioned earlier, some of the equipment had waste toner bottles that could only be changed by the technician. When the waste toner bottle was full, the machine would stop working. I often received calls from key operators complaining that the waste toner was full after the technician had just left. Changing the waste toner bottle was added to my minimum call procedure.

One item that must be mandatory on every service call is to examine the management list and the consumable parts and jam counters on every machine. Techs will need to learn to look at these items for two reasons. First, to identify what needs to be replaced on the current visit. It is critical that the technician identify components that are approaching the end of their life and replace them while they are on site. Second, to plan for their next call on that machine so that they have the items in their car stock that they will need and prevent a future HP call.

Inspect What You Expect

To achieve positive results when you change procedures, you have to inspect what you expect. Especially in the beginning of the program, someone will need to make random inspections to verify that the technician did what was required. Once everyone understands that you are serious about your procedures the inspections can become less frequent. If a certain technician is consistently not achieving his goals then the inspections should become more frequent for that technician.

The inspections are also a good opportunity to build a stronger relationship with your customers. The inspections let the customers know that you are interested in improving their satisfaction and the performance of their equipment. This is a good time to make sure that the customers are happy with the technician. I would also ask them what you can do as a company to better serve them.

Fix the Technicians

With the proper guidelines in place, the next step is to begin improving the skills of your technicians. Technician needs typically fall into one of three major categories: knowledge, aptitude and attitude. I would recommend evaluating all of your technicians on these three attributes to make a personalized improvement plan.


Of the three categories, knowledge is the easiest to fix. After working with over 40 different dealers during the past 13 years, I know for a fact that training is the key to success. The dealers that have had the best results financially and have excelled growth-wise have a strong focus on technician training.

A trained technician is more likely to correctly resolve the problem on the initial call and also is less likely to use unnecessary parts in the troubleshooting process. I have some dealers that have the philosophy that they will send one technician to class and train the other technicians at their company. I have never seen this process succeed.

One of the main excuses dealers use for not sending technicians to factory training is that it costs too much money or that they can’t afford to take a technician out of the field. Neither reason is valid. The investment in the technician will usually pay for itself within the first year. The improved ability to resolve issues will reduce the workload in the long term.

While manufacturers’ training is vital, it is not the end of the process. As you see opportunities for improvement in the service department, you need to try and develop internal training to improve the department. Monthly service meetings are a great venue for short training sessions. Perhaps you can have the technicians review a management list to see what they would need in their car stock for the next visit. You might have someone prepare a presentation on how a specific component works. During your monthly service meeting, sharing model specific common problems and solutions that your technicians have experienced in the field or reviewing important technical bulletins can also be used as a training tool.

One potential resource for training is the regional service representative of the manufacturer you work with. In my time in this role, I have routinely put together and presented seminars on troubleshooting.


This is a much more difficult area to address and needs to be tailored to the individual. Ask yourself what does the technician have issues with? Is he not good at troubleshooting? Does he have challenges with his logic process? Does he not have the necessary mechanical skills for the position?

After identifying the issue, you will need to determine if it is something that can be resolved. You may find that the technician may never have the aptitude to be successful in the field. If so, there may be another position within your organization that he is more suited to perform.

I have had several service managers tell me that when they have reassigned technicians out of the field, their workload has actually gone down. I was once with a service manager who had a technician that called him for assistance after going to a service call for copy quality, but after trying to repair the copy quality issue the machine would no longer function. The technician made arrangements for a service loaner. The customer thought that the technician was great, but in reality, he was not mechanically adept even though he had excellent customer service skills. He was reassigned to the sales department and excelled at his new position. A direct result of the technician being reassigned to the sales department was a decrease in the service call load.


If you have a technician that has a bad attitude, the first question you need to answer is why. You will have to talk to the technician and try to discover what the root cause of the problem is. It may be that there are issues at home that may be affecting his work. The technician may also be unhappy about something in the work environment. The last possibility is that he has a chronic bad attitude.

For some issues you may be able to assist the technician, for some you won’t. You will need to determine if the problem is affecting the department or the customers. If the problem can’t be resolved and is affecting the department or the customers, you will need to take action.

In the next article, we’ll discuss areas outside the service department that may need to be addressed to improve your numbers.

I want to acknowledge the contribution of Jeff Whitlock of Hendrix Business Solutions for his editorial and content assistance with this article.

Ken Edmonds
About the Author
KEN EDMONDS is the owner and founder of 22nd Century Management, which helps managers in the service industries learn the skills they need to successfully lead their teams, exceed expectations and provide outstanding customer service. An Air Force veteran whose background includes owning a copier dealership and working as a service manager for other companies, Edmonds also spent 18 years working for manufacturers as a district service manager. He’s helped dozens of service managers incorporate cornerstone methods to enhance their success.