This leading collision repair facility continues to invest in tools, equipment and training to deliver outstanding results.
We’ve decided to take a bit of a different approach to our shop tour series this issue and revisit Budds’ Collision, a facility that has pioneered many of the concepts now utilized in collision repair and one that continues to be among the most progressive in North America.
Building on a Legacy
Sam Piercey, former General Manager and leader at Budds’ Collision was an inspiration to many. His untimely death in 2016 sent shockwaves through the entire industry, yet under his guidance, J.R. Martino has been able to take the reins and continue pushing the business forward, ensuring that it continues to excel and meet the demands of what seems to be an ever changing industry.
Collision Management recently visited Budds’ Collision and took a look at some of the changes and practices that have been introduced or modified over the last few years.
“A significant change for us has been switching the facility to LED lighting,” says Martino, as he points to the roof. “We implemented the change at the start of the year and it’s proved hugely beneficial.” Martino says that the switch to LEDs has not only increased lighting and visibility inside the shop, but it has also helped improve productivity during the winter months as well as saving around 30 percent annually on energy costs (with a projected two-year payback).
There has also been an emphasis on really training and developing talent from within. Looking around the shop, there are senior technicians and apprentices working together in teams. Martino says it’s all part of an initiative to ensure there’s a pipeline of people continually coming through the system, enabling the shop to be well positioned for repairing the vehicles of both today and tomorrow.
“We’ve been working with local technical schools to attract those who want a career in collision repair,” says Martino. “We start them out working in the parts department, so they get to learn how the business works.” He says that by putting those young people who show promise in the parts department, it helps build relationships with the technicians on the floor. Budds’ assigns a senior technician to work with a young apprentice, and the compensation structure ensures the senior technician has a vested interest in helping the younger person succeed and vice versa. The added benefit is that as the younger technician learns, productivity improves, allowing the shop to boost repair orders and touch time.
Another key development has been an emphasis on inventory control. “We’ve been working with our distributors to install vending machines in our facility,” says Martino. “All the products we use, such as abrasives and materials, are placed on consignment. With prices on supplies continuing to increase, it allows us to recover as much of the cost as we can and maintain our margins.”
Adding to productivity has been investing in the 3M Total Automotive Sanding system that combines best-in-class 3M Abrasives with Festool’s premium power tools and dust extraction systems. Martino says that originally the shop was considering a central vacuum system, but with OEMs placing more of an emphasis on replacing parts instead of repairs, the Total Sanding System proved to be a far more suitable solution, helping eliminate wasted time as well as improving technician safety and ergonomics.
Better than expected
Budds’ has also added a specific rapid repair line, with a dedicated technician and prep person. “This has proved very successful for us,” says Martino. “We’ve actually been able to perform a lot more work and achieve many more hours than we thought we originally could.”
One of the biggest aspects of ensuring a successful collision repair is a detailed estimate and here, Budds’ has been placing a lot of emphasis to ensure that every estimate is as comprehensive as possible prior to the repair beginning, avoiding the risk of any supplements.
“We have developed a strategy for training our estimators,” says Martino. “We’ve found that in many cases across the industry, management doesn’t monitor estimates as closely as they should, or estimates are being dictated by insurance providers when the shop should be the one handling the responsibility. Our job is to ensure the vehicle is repaired properly and that we get paid for the work we do.”