Repair planning tearing a vehicle down to create an accurate damage assessment before the actual repair begins is a simple way for even non-lean shops to improve cycle time, estimate accuracy and customer and insurer satisfaction. Lean expert Steve Feltovich, manager of business consulting services for Sherwin-Williams, emphasized this during the Sherwin-Williams EcoLean Level 2 workshop held in Detroit, Mich., earlier this week.
During the two-day workshop, Feltovich, along with several other experts, shared practical tips for building a lean culture in a body shop.
Feltovich emphasized that in the near future, insurance companies will demand that body shops implement clearly defined, efficient repair processes and will avoid working with shops that operate in a traditional model.
“They’ll tell you, ‘We’re tired of subsidizing your inefficiencies with our paychecks,’” Feltovich told the group of 25 shop owners and managers from the U.S. and Canada who are members of Sherwin-Williams’ A-Plus network.
The goal of repair planning, Feltovich said, is to eliminate the amount of time vehicles are sitting idle in the shop area, waiting for someone to work on them, to zero. In other words, if a vehicle’s in the shop, someone should be working on it and moving the job toward completion. Techs should focus on one task and one vehicle at a time and avoid time-wasters like waiting for parts or jumping between several jobs.
Although waiting for parts might seem like an inevitable element of collision repair, repair planning reduces this problem by ensuring that the correct parts are ordered and delivered before the repair begins.
“If a part that’s crucial to the repair isn’t in yet, then you shouldn’t even think of bringing that vehicle onto the shop floor for a repair,” Feltovich advised.
He recommended creating a repair planning team composed of an A-level tech, parts person, estimator and salesperson to create repair plans and sell jobs. Every last element of the repair, including paint formulas, should be mapped out before the repair begins. As time goes on, Feltovich said, shops will be better able to predict delivery times and avoid supplements, which will improve relationships with customers and insurers alike.
Feltovich offered several other time-saving tips to improve efficiency in the body shop:
Manage LKQ parts during repair planning don’t put car in the workshop and then find out a part won’t fit.
Label all parts during disassembly to speed up the rebuilding process.
Tag wiring connectors during tear-down, including connectors that aren’t used for anything, to reduce confusion during reassembly.
Instead of repeating the task of writing on every car that enters the shop with markers, create a library of reusable magnets or stickers to label vehicle damage for example, stickers that say “prior damage” and other commonly used phrases.
Make sure commonly overlooked parts, like radiator and bumper brackets, are included on estimates.
“Tap the creativity of your employees” by seeking their input during your transition to lean. Ask them how they think they could work more easily and efficiently.
“If you experience problems with your processes, it’s usually not a people problem but a problem with the process itself,” Feltovich said.
The EcoLean workshop also included a tour of Collex Collision’s Clinton Township facility, where shop owner John Gagliano and his staff have been implementing lean processes for years. Collex, founded in 1975, now has 11 shops in Michigan and three in Florida and implements the same lean processes in each shop.
The group also toured Ford’s Rouge factory, where F-150s are built, and learned about paying employees in a lean environment, building an environmental management system and marketing eco-friendly practices. Shop owners and managers also shared advice with one another during lean round table discussions. The two-day workshop was part of Sherwin-Williams’ A-Plus University course offerings.
Sherwin-Williams A-Plus University course offerings