Patrols should report thirty minutes before the start of their shift to their respective service mangers and take a briefing about the present trends of jobs in their respective cell i.e., types of jobs in progress, the waiting time at present or frequency of calls received. Sending massages to their communication devices can also be considered as an option. The shifts would be assigned on the rotation basis amongst the patrols depending upon their past trend lines of shift taking. The peak time for the services is between 8:00 am to 18:00 pm and as there is no over lap of the shifts, patrols joining the second shift can take over from on duty patrol easily. If the patrols like to go for the overtime and select the “stand by,” this would help the service mangers to compensate any gap created during the shift changes.
The second important factor to look into is the way patrols earn their overtime. The present pay system at RAC has made the patrols and contractors make more in return of decreasing productive. This system is not performance driven and the figures from the case clearly show that this system is encouraging more social time to patrols rather then service time. In 1999, only about 50-55 percent of jobs were done with in duty roaster. The rest was covered by overtime, stand by and contractors. This has given birth to inconsistent service levels, negative impact on customer perceived service quality (because the decline of taking jobs from the patrols, were given to contractors who were not properly equipped) and this resulted in a strong negative correlation between overall satisfaction level of customers and the time they waited for the patrol to arrive.
This is a very critical issue and the solution may not be welcomed by the patrols because it will heart them a lot but there are always “trade offs” of every decision. For instance, the present pay agreement is good for the patrols but has effected negatively on the productivity, efficiency and profitability of RAC. The main improvement in the pay structure focuses on the way patrols makes overtime and stand by. I am not opposing the overtime option for the patrols because this is an incentive to work more for the company. I oppose the way the overtime is given. Introducing minor adjustments to pay system can be fruitful. These adjustments are done to the flat rate, stand by and will full log off.
Patrols would be encouraged to do major jobs at the flat rate of GBP10 per vehicle because RAC has adopted the strategy to educate their customers to handle small problems like flat batteries in winter and this has resulted in the reduction of 150,000 incident of this type. This will encourage them to take major jobs and these jobs would not be referred to contractors. The second proposal is to the stand by option. At present, patrols have to “log on” to the communication system to avail this option and when a difficult job asked to be done, patrol “log off” the system and contractors were asked to do that job. My idea of minor adjustment to this system is if a patrol choose for the stand by, it is good because patrol is willingly offering their services that are good for the company and in return company ask them to do a job and they refused it, is quite un-professional. If they refused and log off the system, they should not be allowed to log on to the system till the end of the week.
These will be a harsh decision but RAC has to take such actions in order to improve their productivity and profitability. Patrols will resist these minor adjustments because a considerable number of them are approaching retirement age and the present working environment is not very challenging for them. They are basically enjoying their time in socialising, doing odd jobs during shift hours and rest in overtime. Another option for RAC related to the contractors can be is to brand them under RAC. This will improve two things, first, the perceived service level of the customer will increase and, second, this will help the RAC to increase the efficiency of the system. This offer can be linked with the performance level of the contractors and give them an opportunity to improve their over all technology and efficiency.
The most encouraging aspect of RAC is that they are willing to invest in the improvement of the system, which is an encouraging sign but they cannot go for acquisition because of huge spending. They want to improve PAR, productivity and efficiency of the existing design.
Overall, there are always trade offs in the above-mentioned recommendations but they have to change their present set up of payments and contractors. The union will challenge this because the new plan will cut down the fun time for the patrols and will full log off option. The top management should be ready for a tough resistance from the union but the new wage system of increasing the fixed job rate from GBP6 per job to GBP10 per job for major jobs will some what act as diluter of situation. The rest of the overtime rates for Saturdays and Sundays are fine.