Mr. Johnson was in an accident – his ex-wife had always told him not to drink coffee and drive, but he never listened. Maybe that’s why she’s his ex-wife. “Thank God she’s not here to tell me I told you so,” he thought. Not wanting his insurance company to know either, he took his car to a collision repair shop and agreed to pay for the repairs out of his own pocket. As he was walking out of the shop, he took a drink from his coffee mug and didn’t see the patch of ice in front of him. He slipped, fell and woke up in the hospital with amnesia.
About a year later, he was going through some papers on his desk when he spilled his coffee. As he picked up the soggy documents, he noticed an estimate for a damaged car. Having no recollection of the car – but sick of taking the bus – he called the shop.
“We’re glad you called,” said the shop manager. “We’ve been meaning to contact you about your car. It’s in the paint department and should be done Friday.”
1. Mr. Johnson needs to quit drinking coffee.
2. If this story were true, that shop would be out of business by now.
Caliber’s Bill Lawrence told a version of this story at NACE’s cycle time seminar in December to illustrate how taking that long to repair a car would only work if your customers all suffer from amnesia. Since they don’t, decreasing your shop’s cycle time – the time it takes to repair the vehicle and return it to the customer – should be a goal for this year. (I’d say it should be a New Year’s resolution, but no one ever sticks to those!)
Cycle time is no longer just a buzzword – a word to throw out in a conversation so you sound cool. Decreasing cycle times have become a reality. One consolidator’s CEO says they have a shop with a 3.2-day cycle time, and the shop repairs both light and heavy hits.
Who cares? Well … you should. Time is money. Every square inch of shop space costs you by the minute, so parts and cars have to be in a constant state of movement. If that doesn’t grab you, how about this: Customers want their cars back fast.
“But they want them done right. So which is it?” you ask.
It’s both. A shop manager recently asked a customer if speed matters. She said, “No, it’s quality. That’s why I’m here.” Then he asked her, “How fast do you expect us to repair your car?” She said, “Two days.”
“You can’t have both!” say those in the industry who are in denial – blaming all this talk about efficiency on insurers (who, naturally, are in favor of faster cycle times because retaining customers is how they make money, and to retain customers, they have to get customers back in their cars quickly). The fact is, you can have both speed and quality. How? The consolidator CEO explained it like this: “Manufacturing guys will tell you that if you drive process and speed, the speed will flush out the quality issues. And when you see quality problems, continuously attack them – and that will further speed up the process.”
Don’t understand what he’s talking about or aren’t sure how to go about doing any of it? Then this issue of BSB is for you. It’s all about production. And it’s all true. We didn’t make this stuff up – no matter how much you may try to convince yourself of that. Take a look at the ideas and methods. Some may seem weird to you – they all may seem weird – but don’t close your mind to them.
It’s the start of a new year – and you can be sure the forward-thinking people in this industry are setting goals for themselves and planning to change what isn’t working. So why not set a goal of your own? Why not strive to be one of those forward-thinking people?