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Should Your Auto Body Techs Be Opening Parts Boxes?

Matthew McDonnell, owner of Big Sky Collision Network in Montana, has come to an important realization: “Body men suck at mirror-matching.”

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Josh Cable has 17 years of experience as a writer and editor for newspapers, B2B publications and marketing organizations. His areas of expertise include U.S. manufacturing, lean/Six Sigma and workplace safety and health.

Matthew McDonnell, owner of Big Sky Collision Network in Montana

Matthew McDonnell, owner of Big Sky Collision Network in Montana, has come to an important realization: “Body men suck at mirror-matching.”

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“They look at the [parts] box and say: ‘Headlight – I’ve put thousands of them on cars. I don’t need to open this now. I’ll open it up on Friday,’” McDonnell explained during a Feb. 16 presentation at the Midwest Auto Body Trade Show in Altoona, Iowa.

Invariably, at 3 p.m. on a Friday, the tech finally opens the box, only to discover that the headlight is broken or isn’t for the correct side of the vehicle (or maybe both).

“So we don’t want these guys opening boxes anymore,” McDonnell said.

That’s not a knock against body men. After all, McDonnell considers them “surgeons.” But he believes that the highest and best use of their time is “on the car doing surgery.”

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McDonnell, who owns three stores in Montana, led shop owners through a math exercise to validate his point.

The average technician in the United States generates $50,000 in revenue per month, according to McDonnell. The average month has 21 working days. Divide $50,000 by 21 working days, and divide that number ($2,380.95) by eight working hours per day, and you get $297.62. That’s the amount of revenue that the average tech generates per hour.

With that in mind, do you really want your body techs opening parts boxes?

“Unless you pay your parts person $300 an hour, I would think you might want them doing the mirror-matching process and leaving your technicians to doing things like welding on quarter panels, putting in core supports and putting door skins on,” McDonnell said. “Let’s have our parts people open boxes.”

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