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Log Books - how to bring order out of Chaos

In our store's Employee Training Manual section on repairs of customer equipment, there's a sentence that goes "we look incompetent if we cannot tell a customer, quickly and accurately, what's going on with his repair at any given time." One of the best tools we have to track repairs or out-labbed processing orders is the Log Book. Because it's so important, I've designed a customized log book that we generate on a computer in the back room.

Why use the computer instead of xeroxed sheets from the copier? Because with the computer we can keep all the repair tickets, or all the bag numbers, in numerical order. This simple step eliminates a huge amount of confusion. Let's look at our typical repair log entry for two repairs

12577 Customer Name Phone: Item: Serial # Date in: Sent to: Warranty?
Estimate amt Approve date: Returned: Picked up: Signature:______________
12578 Customer Name Phone: Item: Serial # Date in: Sent to: Warranty?
Estimate amt Approve date: Returned: Picked up: Signature:______________

The first column - the tag number - is the reason we use a computer. If you and your staff invariably take the next repair form from the pile - and if you invariably record them in a log book in the proper sequence - then perhaps my system won't help you. We never found this to be true.

I used a spreadsheet program - in my case, Quatro Pro - to lay out the log book form. The first item, the tag number, is designed so that the cell formula is (A1+1) and it's a relative formula. When I open a new batch of repair tags, if the lowest number is 1501, I enter that number in the top left cell of the spread sheet. The program automatically fills in the next 47 numbers. We record only six repairs on each page, and I print eight pages at a time.

The log book always has every repair number in the proper sequence, making it a lot easier to look up repair information - even if somebody grabbed a form that's 17 numbers out of sequence.

Log books for processing:

Here's an even simpler form, but it greatly reduces confusion. Associates always grab photofinishing bags out of sequence. It's not their fault - we've got stacks of blank bags in three different sections of the store, the manufacturers pile them into boxes in crazy order, and sometimes somebody opens the wrong box next.

Whenever we get a new shipment of bags I try to prepare log pages for the entire shipment. This is a lot easier because we can get 58 orders on a single page. Again, it's done in a spreadsheet program that fills in all the bag numbers in sequence. So we don't always fill up each page in order, but we can find the bag number!

Bag Number Customer
Name
Phone Type of Work Date In Date Back
12577          
12578          
12579          
12580          
12581          
12582          
12583