Stories Give Service Data Meaning

Dan Heath, a New York Times best-selling author once said, “Data are just summaries of thousands of stories – tell a few of those stories to help make the data meaningful.”

The MRAA collected a great deal of data in the survey process for the Service Management Special Report. In a sense, we collected thousands of stories from dealerships across North America. In the report we share the data, how we collected it and, most importantly, we inspected the data to find the stories that we were being told. No doubt, the stories took a little time to sort out. We invested time to compare the information from different data pieces. At times, what we found was unexpected but it was almost always useful.   

Stories Give Service Data Meaning - MRAA Service Management Special Report

For example, the data in the Service Management Special Report showed us that efficiency was one of the top pain points for service department leaders who completed the survey. That isn’t necessarily such a “new” story being revealed. Service department leaders everywhere dwell on their efficiency numbers and it is almost always an ongoing concern. Often, they wonder what made efficiency go down and then (hopefully soon) they start looking for why it went up.  

And yet, an efficiency story was there in the numbers. One piece told us that more than 40 percent of all respondents found efficiency to be a pain point. Another told us that many dealerships have a person dedicated to parts that works with service specifically. When we looked at those two together we found a sort of moral to the story. That is that those dealers with a dedicated parts person for the service shop had a higher full year and higher peak efficiency than dealers without this role. They even had higher proficiency when they had the dedicated parts person.

The parts department efficiency story is just one of many informative, helpful and even exciting narratives exposed by the Service Management Special Report.

Stories Give Service Data Meaning - MRAA Chart
Here is what the efficiency and parts person story looked like in the combined data.

The data also helps us to share explanations about the workforce, dealer resources that influence success, and Repair Event Cycle Times (RECT). It gave us insightful narratives about written and shared job descriptions and control quality. We even found a yarn or two about process maps that are significant and memorable.

Other topics revealed by the data and stories:

  • Workforce Shortage
  • Efficiency
  • RECT
  • Teamwork and Communication
  • Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty
  • Individual Incentive Pay Plans
  • Team Incentive Pay Plans
  • Process Maps
  • Organizational Charts
  • Job Descriptions

“The core advantage of data is that it tells you something about the world that you didn’t know before,” says Hillary Mason, a data scientist addressing the value of data.

As we revealed in the 2023-2025 MRAA Strategic Plan, we are committed to gathering data and using it to help our members find avenues to greater success. We look forward to continuing to share industry data and tell you the stories within the data we gather to help make it meaningful and useful.  

To capture more service-related data and to read more stories from the Service Management Special Report, purchase the full report or download the Executive Summary.