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Build a Culture of Continuous Improvement in Your Auto Body Shop

Our strategy for achieving and maintaining a culture of continuous improvement and teamwork starts with the fact that every improvement requires change.

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Joe Carubba is owner, president and CEO of Carubba Collision Corp., a multi-shop operation in Western New York that has grown to four main offices, a dealer satellite office and six production facilities. He has worked in the auto body industry for 35 years, starting out with his father part-time in the 1970s sweeping floors and cleaning cars. He was named the BodyShop Business Executive of the Year in 2013. His philanthropic efforts have included Make-A-Wish, the Food Bank of WNY, and many others. He can be reached at [email protected]

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We found that the need to continuously create and deliver the best process, performance and profitability is easy to understand but not so easy to achieve.

At the end of the day, Carubba Collision’s success has always been and continues to be a focus on continuously creating a winning culture. Our culture is one of continuous improvement and teamwork.

Change

Our strategy for achieving and maintaining a culture of continuous improvement and teamwork starts with the fact that every improvement requires change. If we’re going to be better, we’re going to have to change how we do things. Better is always different.

Change is always the challenge to overcome. It has been proven that the large majority of change efforts fail. In fact, research suggests that only 30 percent of all change efforts stick over the long run, while 70 percent fail.  The good news is that the reasons change efforts fail are predictable, and we continuously strive to consider countermeasures to those predictable reasons for change failure.

The following is a high-level overview of our strategic thinking relative to causing and sustaining continuous improvement efforts and our culture:

  1. It has been our experience that the No. 1 predictable reason continuous improvement efforts fail is lack of alignment around why improvement is critical to our continued success and the “change vision.” We publish a monthly internal newsletter to improve our communication and change visions. We hold weekly and monthly meetings with our location managers to continuously and efficiently communicate the state of our current performance, reinforce goals and identify continuous improvement opportunities. In recent months, we developed a video orientation training program that takes new and existing staff through the history of our company, our vision, core values, goals and business strategy.
  2. The second predictable reason why change efforts fail is lack of training. We have a full-time operations management team that facilitates training and coaching. Someone from the operations team is in one of our locations every day, identifying what is being done.
  3. A disengaged culture. Engaged employees are those who like working for our organization. They like coming to work and the people they work with, and they’re always willing to explore opportunities to improve. According to research, roughly 30 percent of all employees fall into this category. Fifty percent of employees are not engaged – they show up and do their jobs with a focus only on making money. The remaining 20 percent are not engaged either. Not only do they not like what they’re doing or the company or other employees, they tell everyone around them how bad things are. They’re toxic and harmful. We have eliminated the majority of employees who are not actively engaged over time. Some left on their own because they couldn’t work aside staff who were engaged. Some we had to fire. Our management team is charged with identifying where each employee falls. We always try to retrain and coach those who are not engaged before we part ways.

Recipe for Success

Our recipe for building a winning culture has three ingredients:

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  1. Continuously communicate the organization’s vision, core values, goals and change vision when change is needed.
  2. Facilitate continuous training. We need all our staff up to speed with all our objectives, and our management team is measured by their staff’s performance. Training is an essential part of the success of our objectives.
  3. We hire to the core values and culture of the organization. We’re looking for individuals with the right character, integrity, teamwork and work ethic.

Summary

We believe our organization’s ability to create and deliver the best quality, speed and cost performance is critical to our continues success, today and in the future. We know that this is only possible if everyone understands and believes in our vision and represents our winning culture

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