In an industry where cycle times are critical, it can be tempting to move a little too quickly. After all, faster turnarounds mean more business revenue, more income for collision repair techs and happier customers. That is, unless the rush is really a wreck. Your customers might not know it, but they would much rather you take the time necessary – especially upfront – and do the repairs accurately the first time around. Here are two areas where taking the time is especially important.
Setting Out a Repair Plan
Creating a blueprint, or guide, for your repairs is an essential part of the process. This is one time investment that will really pay off. When a tech performs an accurate assessment of what’s damaged and then makes a 360-degree strategy for how they’ll handle it, they’re setting the rest of the team up for success. They’ll have the right parts at the right time, and you can make sure essential areas like the paint booth are always working but not overbooked. The key is to start with an accurate blueprint.
A teardown, combined with a computerized measuring system will give technicians a thorough understanding of what’s going on, revealing hidden damage that might not be obvious at first glance. And when you or your technician has completed the blueprint, take one more step before the team gets started: Have someone else review the plan.
You’ve already invested time in putting the plan together. Get the most bang for your buck by doubling down and having someone take another look. No matter how detail oriented the person doing the initial blueprint is, there’s always a chance for mistakes to make their way in. Having a second person sign off on the game plan will help catch those slip-ups. If you’ve ever forgotten to order a simple part – and didn’t discover it until the end of the repair – you know how frustrating and time consuming even the smallest errors can be. Set your team up for success by:
- Setting the expectation of a review upfront. When everyone knows having a second set of eyes on the blueprint is just part of the process, there’s less chance for defensiveness or resistance.
- Choosing the right person for the job. The person who reviews the plan needs to be thorough and in tune with what’s going on in the shop. This isn’t just another thing a manager has to sign. The reviewer will need to take a close look at the blueprint and be prepared to offer real feedback.
If you haven’t required an audit of the plan in the past, it may take some getting used to. But everyone will be happier when jobs get completed on time instead of sitting idle while the team waits for that last part to come in on the delivery truck.
Technician training is another area where a time (and money) investment is worth it. Asking techs to learn on the fly might work for some techniques, but when it comes to things like working with new materials, that won’t cut it. And it might seem like it’s easier to leave those tough tasks to the one person who already knows how to do it, but that can easily backfire as well. When that tech leaves or there’s an influx of jobs, you’ll find yourself wishing you’d found a way to train other members of your team.
If one of your staff members is carrying all the knowledge, ask them to share it. It will slow things down for a time. That’s to be expected. But it will also save time in the future. Once everyone is up to speed, sharing the workload will ensure every job is moving – not stalling.
If there are areas where the whole team is lacking or you’re having trouble keeping up with the latest changes in repair techniques, consider collision repair training. Courses like those offered through Chief University last about two days on average, which is a small time commitment in the long run. When your techs have the essentials down, they’ll be able to complete jobs more quickly and more accurately.
When you’re so accustomed to looking for time efficiencies, it can be tricky to start thinking about places where you should invest more time. When you do spend the time on the right things, though, it will pay dividends.
Want to start by making accurate blueprints? Download our free guide to computerized measuring systems to learn how they work, and how they can help your shop.