Organizing tools in the service department like cleaning out the garage on a Saturday — it's something that needs to be done but easily is put off.

There are significant advantages, though, to organizing tools. Consider this: a 10-technician dealership can increase revenue annually by $150,000 simply by organizing the service department's tools. That's according to internal research conducted by an auto maker.

Much of that money is made up by reducing the amount of time service technicians spend hunting for tools.

Auto technician Paul McDonald says the tool situation at his dealership was a mess.

“We would sometimes spend as much time looking for the tool as we spent making the repair,” he recalls.

His dealership, Iowa-based Vaughn Motors, changed that this year.

“We tried to do it ourselves several times, but that took time and effort we didn't have,” says McDonald.

The dealership turned to Tool Organization Service (TOS). The firm dispatched two specialists to the dealership. They spent about five days inventorying tools and organizing them according to a numerical system.

The system works for Vaughn Motors.

“Finding what you need is straightforward,” says McDonald. “If you can count, you can find the tool.”

The most critical element of the system is having manufacturer-created tool lists. Many dealers aren't even sure what tools are needed for which manufacturers' products, says TOS President Chuck English.

“We're able to know what tools the dealer uses, and then organize them according to the dealer's desires,” he says.

TOS creates a database that lists each tool and its numerical location at a dealership. The database is updated as new tools replace old.

“A database of the tools with their locations on the computer saves a lot of time,” says Brad Clapp, a parts manager at Jim Waldron Buick-Pontiac-GMC in Davison, MI.

On the low-tech side of the system, TOS uses 4×7 ft. peg boards to help keep things organized.

The boards pivot and tools hang on each side to reduce space needs. Each tool is tagged with a numerical designation.

TOS so far has organized the tools for about 3,000 dealerships, including multi-franchise stores.

“The dealership doesn't have to set up different systems for each manufacturer,” says Matt English, TOS' operations manager.

Duayne Gauthier, the service director for the Jim Waldron store, uses the TOS system to secure and keep track of his tools. Technicians sign out tools they use.

If a tool is missing, the dealership knows which technician used it last. As a result, the dealership has been able to reduce the number of errant tools.

“We certainly are happier with the tools being organized. There is a financial benefit of not having to replace them as often,” says Gauthier.

Having the tools organized also attracts top technicians, adds Gauthier.

He explains, “More and more, one of the first questions prospective technicians ask is ‘How are your tools organized?’”

Now, if only they could clean that garage…