Lean: A Long Way to Go? - BodyShop Business

Lean: A Long Way to Go?

One lean expert says the collision industry for the most part remains mired in the traditional, wasteful model of doing business.

It had been awhile since I thought about lean and the Toyota Production System. I realized that as I sat in the Sherwin-Williams EcoLean Workshop in Charlotte awhile back. Receiving yet another copy of “The
Toyota Way” book also reminded me that I still needed to read it.

But it was good to get refreshed on this subject. The system makes so much sense. Yet Steve Feltovich, manager of Business Consulting Services, said the collision industry for the most part remains mired in the traditional, wasteful model of doing business.

“It’s not necessary to change. Survival isn’t mandatory,” he said. “But unless you can create more customer value tomorrow than you did today, you’re setting yourself up for future obsolescence.”

We all know the basics, right? Continuous improvement. Reduction of waste. Empowering employees to find better ways to do things. And that lean is a journey, not a destination.

“Ninety percent of lean is thinking; 10 percent is doing,” said Feltovich.

Aha! Therein lies the problem. Who has time to think in this industry, right? We’re too busy pushing as many cars as we can through our facilities, even if we can’t handle the workload, concentrating on the almighty cycle time. But once you get systems in place, in theory you’ll have more time to work on your business, not in it.

I’ve heard some collision repairers say, “We’ve gotten as lean as we can get.” The experts say hogwash – that this industry in particular has a long way to go yet. I think this is true based on my various shop
visits throughout the country. What’s the old saying? “There’s always room for improvement.”

I would suggest brushing up on your lean via a class, whether you haven’t started yet, or you have started but have run into trouble, or even if you’re well down the path of lean and doing it successfully. It pays to get out of the shop noise occasionally and hear the cogs in your brain turning. You might be surprised what you come away with.

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