5 Tips to Mastering the Supply Chain

5 Tips to Mastering the Automotive Parts Supply Chain

Strategies you can adopt to minimize the effect of delayed parts. 

As a collision repair facility owner, you encounter many issues in your day-to-day operations; some you can control, some you cannot. One of the problems you cannot control is the supply chain. 

What happens when it takes a long time to receive a part? How do you handle it with customers who may not understand the dynamics of the collision industry? 

In this article, we’ll discuss the different strategies you can adopt in your business to help keep your shop running at full capacity. 

1. Educate Your Clients

There are times when customers may become angry when they hear that it may take days — or sometimes even weeks — for their cars to be repaired. These situations can be difficult to handle. Jeremy Blom, owner of Auto Body Clinic in Huron, S.D., has been in business for 11 years and has handled his fair share of upset clients. He has found that taking the time to fully explain the situation to agitated customers can greatly improve their demeanor. 

“Thankfully, once we tell them how it is, we don’t experience too much pushback,” says Blom. “A lot of the time, it’s only one option. They either accept it or the car sits.”  

Many of your customers will either have limited or no experience with the collision industry. It can be frustrating when you have to explain what seems like basic information to someone else, but, for the most part, once customers understand the full difficulty of obtaining parts, they’ll calm down. With a new knowledge base, they become more patient and appreciative of what you have to go through to help fix their vehicles.  

2. Regular Meetings with Your Team

Implementing team meetings can help your business in more ways than one. According to DRIVE Coach Cassaundra Croel, “Discussing scheduling with the front staff, reviewing progress with production staff and monitoring which vehicles need to go out overall can help increase your team’s productivity. These daily meetings are the key to success in this sector — that key being coordination.” When everyone is on the same page, it leads to a shop running as smoothly as possible. 

There’s also a level of accountability that comes with these meetings. By taking just 15 minutes to gather everyone to talk before the shop opens each day, everyone understands he or she must be prepared when coming to work. They know that they’ll have to discuss the status of their work projects, what they’re currently struggling with and what they’ll need from other team members to succeed. When your staff members are all on the same page, they can work in tandem with one another.

3. Parts Sourcing

As far as who does Auto Body Clinic’s parts sourcing, Blom says, “We have one main person that sources and tracks parts for us.”

When one person oversees parts sourcing, each vehicle’s needs are easier to track, from what has been ordered to what’s in transit to what still needs to be tracked down.  

This also allows technicians to report to one person, instead of having things fall to the wayside or be forgotten. When there’s more than one person doing a task, things can slip through the cracks or people may assume someone else has already completed a task. Each person on your team can direct his or her questions to that one person and receive a timely answer. Also, one person in charge means one person is on the hook if something goes awry — which is good, because when one person is to blame, that person takes his or her responsibilities more seriously and thus follows through on tasks more often.  

4. Developing a Tracking System

Auto body shops run like an assembly line within a factory, which is why it’s important to always have your eye on each moving piece of the puzzle. Everyone benefits from a tracking system — estimators, technicians and even the customers. Whether you’re using a progress board on a shop management system (SMS) or a curated board for the shop, monitoring your touch times is invaluable. As an owner or manager, having your eyes on this allows you to quickly oversee production efficiency, which can be a crucial factor in delivering cars back to customers in the desired time frame.  

Once again, having this set up in your shop helps your team hold itself accountable and improves coordination. When your entire team has these qualities, you’ll see an improvement in both work quality and quantity. 

 “Tracking systems enable tight coordination between departments of body, paint and assembly,” says Croel. “Overall, getting the job done sooner meets insurance company expectations and customer satisfaction.” 

5. Schedule Your Work Purposefully

Think about how you currently schedule your work. Do you simply do “first-come, first-served,” or do you have intention behind your schedule? By taking the time to figure out the most efficient way to handle your car load, you can have better turnaround time all around. Getting cars in and out as fast as possible allows you to work on more cars in general, keep customers happy and keep your employees busy. So, make sure you take the time to sit down each morning to figure out the best way to work on your inventory. 

Summary

We all know that inflation has taken a toll on every industry, and collision repair is no exception. If you take the time to implement these five tips into your business practices, you can keep your profits high and clients happy. While it may seem unnecessary, taking the extra time to meet with your team and delegate responsibilities will keep your team accountable and coordinated. When you run your business with precision, your profits, reputation and team will reflect the hard work you put in.

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