Managing Collision Shop Production Capacity

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Sylvain Séguin held a number of important roles in the industry before becoming President of Fix Network Canada. Photo Sylvain Séguin

There is no denying that our bodyshops are going through a period of sometimes painful tensions.

The workshops are overflowing and the classes are full. The creaking supply chain and the endemic shortage of skilled labor only exacerbate the situation and desperately stretch the timeline to everyone’s dismay.

Faced with this observation, we must remain calm, even if, I admit, this is easier said than done. My first recommendation to bodyshops, and not only in times of crisis, is to be true managers, time managers.

Your ability to produce

They must measure in hours on the one hand the work that awaits them and on the other hand, the production capacities, still in hours, of each of their departments. And in this equation where the goal is to achieve balance, let’s not forget the importance of the mix of work, divided between light, medium-intensity repairs and major projects on vehicles that are often not drivable.

This information has always been and will always be essential to optimize your cycle times while keeping a close eye on the profitability of bodyshop operations. Having the information that tells you what work is ahead of you in terms of your ability to do it is central to your relationship with the insurer.

A shared solution

Stormy day, the phone is constantly ringing. This is the time to put emotion aside and get your numbers out to build a real conversation with your insurance partner. Accepting cars without knowing what to do with them is hardly a better solution than refusing them without discussion.

What I advocate, in this constrained context as at all times, is a discussion based on facts. The insurer must understand your situation. The goal is to reach a negotiated solution together. Extending courtesy car coverage, asking the customer whose car is driveable to return at a later date, or accepting a non-driveable vehicle in exchange for garage fees are accommodations that can be part of an intelligent conversation.

Speaking the same language

We are constantly talking to insurers about how auto repair is becoming more and more complex and how difficult it is for our bodyshops to absorb the volumes of vehicles that come to them. In fact, we regularly receive members of insurance companies’ technical teams to show them, in concrete terms, what it will mean in 2023 to repair a car equipped with state-of-the-art technology. Our goal here is to make them aware of the fact that repair processes are becoming longer and more complex and that our bodyshops must be given the time they need to perform these repairs properly. After all, the safety of their customers is at stake.

I understand very well how difficult the situation is right now for our bodyshops. However, part of the solution must be in their hands. This important knowledge of their capabilities is crucial in the development of a true partnership relationship with the common goal of satisfying a client.

Because let’s not forget that we all work for a customer who knows nothing about these behind-the-scenes games and who only wants one thing: to get his vehicle back as quickly as possible and in the condition it was in before the stressful episode of the collision.



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