Auto body repair shops have a couple of very important, and sometimes conflicting, priorities: speed and safety. You want to protect your collision repair techs at all times and your customers want to drive safe cars. But from a business standpoint, you also need to get jobs out the door. Luckily, with the right approach, it’s possible to speed up repairs while keeping safety top of mind.
Bring in the Blueprints
Our first tip is to set out a blueprint or plan for the repairs from the start. Adding another step to reduce time? That seems a little counterintuitive, but it truly works. The best-laid plans are the most efficient plans. That’s how the saying goes, right? Well, maybe not, but it’s true. Taking the time to set out a blueprint now will save you time, money and headache down the road, and the steps are fairly simple:
- Complete a visual inspection
- Measure the vehicle and do some tear-down to reveal hidden damage
- Make a list of the parts, materials and tasks needed for the repair
- Put a detailed plan together
There’s another wise saying: Only fools rush in. Don’t hurry into a project in hopes of completing it sooner. Set yourself up for success down the line by taking the time to make a realistic plan now. Your staff will appreciate having some guidelines and your customer will love that your forethought avoided snags and got their car back to them sooner.
Need more info? “Improve Structural Repair Cycle Times with Blueprinting” takes a closer look at the blueprinting system.
Take a Careful Look at Staffing
Even the best collision repair technicians can be tempted to cut corners and go outside of safety regulations if you’re asking too much of them. If you’re having trouble meeting volume (or safety) goals, look closely at your team numbers. Is it time to add more employees to handle the rush? You might even consider adding a second shift if your workload supports that move. When you find the right-sized team, everyone can take a breath and safely provide high-quality repairs.
Add More or Better Equipment
Is there a pain point in your repair process? If your welder is constantly breaking down or your framing rack can’t stand up to the job, consider shopping around for new equipment. While you’re looking, be sure to keep an eye out for features that will cut time for your techs. For instance, if you need a MIG welder, look for one that can handle both aluminum and steel with plenty of programmable options for easy operation. Looking for a better rivet gun? Consider one that can be used with a variety of metals, is lightweight for easy handling and is efficient.
If you’ve recently added staff members or have an influx of jobs, you might even need to add more welders or other equipment. And if you opt to start blueprinting, you’ll need to invest in a measuring system. The LaserLockTM LiveMappingTM system provides out-of-level measuring so you don’t have to tie up a frame rack just to make a plan. Now and in the future, anytime you purchase new equipment, keep both safety and speed in mind. The best tools will help you address both.
The key is to think broadly when addressing issues of efficiency and safety. While you can and should ask your techs to work quickly and safely, your efforts shouldn’t stop there. Don’t be afraid to cast a wider net and consider what else you can do to help, from providing better tools to changing the way you map out jobs altogether.
Ready to learn more about measuring equipment to use in the blueprinting process? Our free guide to the basics can help.