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Posts Tagged ‘HD Repair Forum’

Paint Booth Lighting for Better Quality Paint Jobs

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When considering what goes into a quality paint job, we often think of the quality of the prep job, airflow and filtration in the booth, skill of the painter and more. Although these factors are all important, another key factor is lighting. Great spray booth lighting is necessary for proper working conditions, and is especially important in the refinish world for accurate color matching and high-quality paint finishes.

Excellent paint booth lighting is made up of several components, including fixture placement and quantity, light quality, type of lens, lamps and ballast, and code compliance of the fixture.

Fixture Placement & Quantity

In order to achieve uniform, complete lighting, light fixtures must be strategically placed on the paint booth walls and ceiling. Paint booth engineers use lighting analysis to determine the number and placement of light fixtures for optimal brightness.

A paint booth’s brightness is measured in foot candles — the intensity of light in a given direction. An ordinary wax candle has the luminous intensity of 1 foot candle. The industry standard for paint booths is 100 to 150 foot candles at a three-foot height.

Light Quality & Color Matching

For paint refinishing jobs, color matching is critical. In order to accurately color match, the lighting in the paint booth should be as close as possible to natural daylight, which is the true “white” light. The quality of lighting can be measured by the Color Rendering Index (CRI), which rates the light’s ability to duplicate the entire visible spectrum.

The CRI is a scale of zero to 100, with the sun at 100. Anything over 90 CRI is considered full-spectrum lighting. When quality and color matching is important, higher CRI rated lamps should be used. Lamps with a CRI of 90 or above are often referred to as color-corrected lamps, and are commonly used in paint booths for accurate color matching.

Clear, Tempered Lens

The light fixture lens can also have an effect on the quality of the light it gives off. A clear tempered lens allows for clearer, more accurate lighting. Tempered glass is four to five times stronger than regular glass of equal size and thickness, for excellent durability in a high-production painting and curing environment. It’s also much clearer than wire reinforced glass, which used to be common in some paint booths. 

Types of Lamps – Fluorescent (T8/T5) and LED

 Most paint booths come standard with fluorescent T8 light bulbs, however, you may have the option to upgrade to LED T8 lamps as an energy-efficient alternative. LED lamps can offer significant energy savings — up to 40 percent when compared to traditional fluorescent 32W T8 system. Most T8 light fixtures can support either fluorescent or LED bulbs, making it easy to upgrade to LED bulbs in an existing paint booth. An alternative to T8, T5 light bulbs are often used in paint booths with tall ceilings, as they offer a higher output.

Energy-Efficient Dual Ballasts

Another way to save energy with your paint booth lighting is with dual ballasts. Dual ballast fixtures offer two levels of lighting. When less light is needed, such as during prep operations, you can save energy by using half of the lights. Full lighting can be easily restored for painting operations and detail work.

Safety and Code Compliance

While it is important for the paint booth as a whole to be code compliant, it is just as important for certain booth components, such as lighting, to comply with national, state and local regulations. When it comes to lighting, regulatory agencies require that booth light fixtures be approved for Class I, Division II, Groups A-D. By verifying your booth lighting meets these requirements, you can ensure worry-free planning and installation, and the safety of your employees, equipment and facility.

A Trusted Booth Manufacturer

Although all of these lighting factors are important to consider when purchasing a new truck refinish paint booth, the paint booth manufacturer and your local distributor should be able to help simplify the buying process for you. Look for a trusted, reliable booth manufacturer with engineers on staff. Booth lighting should be engineered for optimal brightness, color matching and energy efficiency, as well as meet code requirements. Better lighting in your paint booth can go a long way in achieving better quality paint finishes.

Road to Green: A 10% Increase in Shop Productivity Makes More Sense Than a 10% Discount on Supplier Parts

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Too many HD parts suppliers always approach the HD service shop owner discussing the parts price issue of what they offer, and then they wonder why the shop owner is only thinking about price and possible further discounts on parts.

Many HD service shops do not really understand the benefit to their business of a productivity increase in the bays. Our HD industry has always spoken about top line activity rather than bottom line focus. When the HD parts supplier brings additional value and helps shop management to understand this issue, it is amazing how the focus of the conversation can change, and for the better of both parties. Does your HD parts supplier bring HD shop Business Management courses to your area?

It is critical to understand that the HD shop is not in the commodity business like a parts supplier but rather they are in the knowledge business. The shop must diagnose the HD vehicle problem and set up the relationship with each client in order to obtain the proper labor hours billed to the client ensuring the vehicle is maintained in accordance with the manufacturer recommendations, is safe and reliable for the client and have the shop service levels exceed the client’s expectations.

One important number the HD service shop should know about their business which measures whether the shop is achieving the right HD vehicle maintenance service levels with each client is the average number of labor hours billed per repair order.

To calculate this number it is recommended that you take at least six months’ worth of labor sales. The longer the time frame measured, the more accurate the number.

First… take the closing number of the invoice and subtract the opening number. For example the closing number of the invoice at December 31 is 22474 and the opening number of the invoice on June 1 was 21872. The difference is 602 meaning that 602 RO’s have been written in the shop since June 1.

Second… add up the total dollar labor revenue billed in the shop from June 1 to December 31. For example, let’s assume the total labor dollars billed was $227,056 for the six month period.

Third… divide the total labor dollars billed by the labor rate of the shop. For example if the shop is charging $90 per hour, then $227,056 divided by $90 = 2,522.8 labor hours billed for the six month period.

Fourth…labor hours billed divided by the number of invoices written equals the average number of labor hours per invoice. In our example we would take 2,522.8 billed divided by 602 invoices written, equals an average of 4.2 labor hours billed per invoice.

The average HD shop in the marketplace is currently averaging 5.3 to 5.6 hours per invoice. The industry must achieve a productivity level average of 8 to 10 hours per invoice to provide the professional HD vehicle maintenance to the commercial client. That is the goal to be achieved.

The obvious question to be asked is “What is the affect on the shop’s gross profit and potential net profit if we can get a shop to increase their productivity by only ten percent to start?” In our example, this shop is averaging 100.3 invoices per month (602 RO’s written divided by 6 months) and averaging 4.2 hours of labor per RO at $90 per hour.

Without increasing the volume of RO’s written and keeping the labor rate at the same charge-out rate, if we increased productivity by 10 percent from 4.2 hours to 4.6 hours per invoice, the results to additional gross profit (and net profit) would be as follows:

                                                                                                  NEW              OLD

Average number of invoices written per month           100.3             100.3

Times average number of labor hours per invoice            4.6               4.2

Equals total labor hours billed per month                      461.4             421.3

Times the current hourly labor rate                                   $90               $90

Equals total labor revenue produced per month          $41,526         $37,917

 

The difference between the new productivity and old productivity is $3,609 PER MONTH!!!

This will create an additional $43,308 gross profit and net profit from labor revenue alone for the shop in one year.

These figures can become very significant as the internal processes to build billed hours moves forward. They represent a substantial additional amount of monies earned compared to any discount on parts could ever contribute to the shop bottom-line profitability. In addition to that we haven’t even accounted for any gross profit earned from the part sales that would be made as well with the increase in labor productivity.

Math is a very precise science. The numbers do not lie. Consider talking to your team about how to slow the shop processes down and increase productivity per vehicle rather than spinning everyone’s wheels trying to bring in more volume of HD vehicles into the bays and take a further parts discount from the supplier. Let’s teach the industry to work smarter, not harder.

This is only the tip of the ice-burg when it comes to understanding the affect of professional business management on an independent heavy duty maintenance and repair shop. The affect on true bottom line profitability is incredible. By adjusting the shops business measurements and the front counter processes, one can find a minimum of $160,000 to $250,000 in net profit with the current business coming through the door in an average 8 bay HD shop. How would that additional net income in your shop or everyone’s shop, change their business, their lifestyle, everyone’s stress levels and the independent sector of the heavy duty aftermarket industry?

Perhaps it is time for you to examine exactly what do you talk about with your team when they are looking at their routine with all heavy duty vehicles entering the bays?

Road to Green: Manage Your Working Day With Three Vital Rules

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Let’s face it many heavy duty shop owners have a tendency to overcomplicate their day-to-day function, which in turn can lead to a stressed, unprofitable, business.

It appears the longer you are actually in the HD Service business these days, the “messier”, “more cluttered” your personal day becomes. I hear things like “I’m personally just too busy”, or, “there is so much that I must do”, or, “I’ve got so much on my plate that I must handle”.

The fact is, this happens to every business owner/manager at some time, no matter how good they seem to appear on the outside.

Start to deal with this situation by re-visiting two important words that are repeated time and time again, but truly ignored by so many; “Slow down!!”

Consider making a big sign and displaying it in your office where you are forced to view it constantly with the following advice:

NOTHING SHOULD BE DONE IN MY BUSINESS UNLESS:

  • It makes a significant contribution to achieving worthwhile business goals;
  • It pays for itself in a reasonable and predictable time;
  • It can be explained simply and completely to those that have to make it work.

“Oh if it were only that simple” you say. Well consider putting it to the test with everything you do. When you keep these three items “in your face”, and answer the points honestly, it allows you to evaluate everything you handle and do, in proper perspective to YOUR particular function within the business. If what you are doing as an owner/manager doesn’t fit those rules, you either explain and delegate it to someone else to do, or throw it out and don’t waste your time with it.

Consider that December is a great month to “focus” on what really counts so you can get a proper self-discipline started to address 2018, that is, get yourself into a “daily routine” that maximizes your efforts to enhance your business profits; after all, that is your job, so don’t let yourself and your team down.

K&R Truck Sales Relies on 3M Automotive Aftermarket Division for a Cleaner, More Efficient Shop

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For nearly 30 years, K&R Truck Sales owner Ed Reitman has known only one way to service and repair trucks — the right way. And that’s why he relies on the 3M Automotive Aftermarket Division to provide his customers with the best quality work. K&R Truck Sales is a full-service truck dealership with locations in Holland, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Muskegon, MI. Their Holland and Grand Rapids locations also feature full-service collision repair centers. All told, Reitman has 220 employees, including 28 who are dedicated to collision repair. With a total of 29,000 square feet, his two shops can handle anything from frame straightening, collision and mechanical repair, to cab replacement, wheelbase alterations and complete refinishing. K&R Truck Sales also offers full-service leasing, rentals and dedicated maintenance programs through Idealease. Also, emergency breakdown, towing and wrecker services are available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. The business has grown substantially. In 2012, Reitman acquired West Michigan International and its three facilities in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Muskegon. Just last year, K&R Truck Sales bought land in Kalamazoo to build a new facility while, earlier this year, the company acquired Pro-Fleet Refinishing in Matawan, MI, to add another body shop in the Kalamazoo market. All that growth meant finding a quality partner to work with was critical. Last year, K&R Truck Sales converted to all 3M products in their shops. With the help of the 3M team, Reitman was able to improve the efficiency and workflow of the collision repair side of his business.

“From an owner point of view, 3M demonstrated that looking for the lowest cost is not always the best way to do things,” said Reitman. “They assisted us in measuring our material cost and understanding how to use more efficient products and use less of them. We feel that is what makes a true partner in our business. 3M not only provides materials but they deliver technical support, training and a forward-thinking view that keeps us at the forefront in training and knowledge.” “When we visit a shop that is not yet using our products, it’s a great feeling knowing that 3M has solutions that can have a direct impact on improving their production,” said John Spoto, 3M National Heavy Duty Truck/Commercial Fleet Manager. “When we can help an owner like Ed Reitman boost his productivity, it will also have a positive impact on his bottom line.” One key component in the process is the Total Automotive Sanding System, which reduces the amount of dust in the air from sanding, leading to less rework, thus driving improved cycle time and process efficiency. It also reduces cleanup time, enhances workplace efficiency by reducing time spent searching for tools and materials, reduces material spending on abrasives and increases technician mobility. “Our goal is to provide the best and the quickest repair and turnaround for our customers so we continue to work on improving our process and flow through the shop,” said Reitman. “One of the tools that helps us accomplish that goal is the Total Automotive Sanding System. The cleanliness of the department is remarkable. Cleaner jobs and a cleaner atmosphere equate to less prep time, quicker re-assembly and cleaner, happier technicians.”

To that end, the Total Automotive Sanding System incorporates the benefits of 3M high-performance abrasives. Those benefits flow from Cubitron™ II abrasives that cut 30 percent faster and last up to twice as long as other premium abrasives; Trizact™ abrasives that leave a finer, more uniform finish; and Perfect-it™ Paint Finishing System, designed to provide a fast, swirl-free finish every time. With commitment and attention to detail, K&R Truck Sales and the 3M Automotive Aftermarket Division are working together to improve efficiency, customer satisfaction and quick turnarounds. It is a winning combination for sure.

For more information, visit 3MCollision.com/Truck.

Road to Green: HD Vehicle Technology Will Change Labor Measurement

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The progression of heavy duty vehicle technology will make a dramatic difference in measuring a typical HD service shop business. The HD aftermarket will have to relearn this portion of the business all over again. You will find that a typical HD shop owner is going to require 6 to 8 days of management training per year moving forward. This labor measurement is one of the changes that will have to be relearned as the old way of setting and measuring labor rates will leave too much money on the table.

As commodity margins decline and HD vehicle software grows, everyone must understand where their management attention must be directed.

A redefined labor measurement will take place within the next year to maximum 2 year period.

A ?maintenance labor? category will be just that, pure maintenance work based on the manufacturers recommended service intervals and repairs of worn out or broken parts.

Diagnostic labor will be the analyzation of a situation or interpretation of information. (What is the problem, what caused it and what is the solution?)

Inspection labor will be all completed paid inspections.

Re-Flash will be strictly updating the vehicle from the OEM website.

Calibration labor will be a new category as the lining up of sensors after a repair has taken place will become an additional specialty skill within the HD shop. Software platforms will have to be understood.

The key information that will need to be understood is ?what will the mix of each labor category be within the shop?? This brings back the importance of key efficiency measurement for each category as specific training will have to be required and making sure the shop has the right skill set within the team to ensure professional execution of the services on behalf of the HD client. The efficiency measurement of each category will also help establish the billed hours per R/O.

Measuring the ?effective? rate will be critical in the labor mix measurement. How much labor should we be getting from each labor category to justify the staffing level?

All that being said another big change coming to the industry will be the setting of labor rates for each category. Labor rate multiples will change from what they are now based around the technicians hourly wage to working with the individual shops actual cost per billed hour.

Better ?job quoting? skills will have to be embraced because the knowledge for ?how? a job must be done and ?what kind of labor? is involved to complete the job to total client satisfaction must be learned.

As you can see, personnel development and business measurement will become more intertwined than ever before. All of these things combined will affect the net profit of the business.

Our heavy duty industry is changing so rapidly and dramatically and the reason for this is due to vehicle technology and technician competency that will be required to fix and maintain a vehicle properly.

I see this as just the beginning of so many changes coming to the heavy duty aftermarket sector within the next 1 to 2 years maximum. What will happen to the HD shops that don?t have a learning culture in their business or won?t want to re-learn and move in the direction they must? Time will not be on their side. It is this kind of change that will dramatically separate the heavy duty shops in a given marketplace.

As the business owner you want to be committed to keep ?ahead of the wave? and seek out the business knowledge you will need to keep the business moving forward. Hold on for the ride over the next 2 years, it will be a great one for the heavy duty shops that get it.

Bob Greenwood

Road to Green: Do You Have a Problem with Too Much Staff Turnover?

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Everyone acknowledges the shortage of competent technicians, and staff in general, in this heavy duty industry, but it becomes really scary when a HD service shop can?t keep the staff it does find. When a shop can?t keep good people, it not only affects the shop?s general attitude, it affects the profitability too.

Constant personnel ?replacement? is not personnel ?management?.

Too much personnel replacement is not good for business. It creates a situation where too much time by the shop owner is used in a perceived negative process, rather than spending time working on the positive processes of the business that builds a client base, and profitability. If the business is not moving forward, then the fact is, it is stagnant, or moving backwards.

Consider the following:

  • In many cases, it is not the staff that is the problem; it is ?shop management? that is the problem.
  • If an employee would leave a shop for a $4 or $6 per hour raise, then the employee does not ?see? a future with the current shop that would allow him/her to earn in excess of the amount offered, to enjoy a career. The employee sees the current situation as a job. The owner does not seem to believe in, or have the skill to, create positive employee business relationships.
  • Due to a shortage of competent people, it must be recognized that dealing with staff members today must change substantially compared to the 1990?s mentality.
  • It must be recognized that you can buy a man?s time; you can buy his physical presence at a given place; you can even buy a measured number of his skilled muscular motions per hour. But, you cannot buy enthusiasm today; you cannot buy initiative today; you cannot buy loyalty today; you cannot buy devotion to the business today. You must EARN these.
  • Heavy duty shop employers today must learn to be supportive, and willing to take responsibility, of its employee?s long-term ?well-being?. The employer, in essence, is stating, ?You are not easily replaced, therefore, I am interested in you, and your future, and how working with, and being part of this company can meet, or exceed, your personal goals. Let?s talk.?
  • In the past, you would hear people saying ?wouldn?t it be great to work for company X or company Y?? You don?t hear that anymore because in an age known for ?slash and burn?, ?downsizing?, and ?lean and mean management?, which has created a psychological atmosphere within the marketplace, where the prevailing perception among employees is that there are not too many companies out there that VALUE their people.
  • As much effort must be made to nurturing your employees as you do servicing your heavy duty clients. This is a role management must be willing to ?get their head around?, because if it doesn?t, what are the long-term financial consequences to the business?
  • An employee-centered management philosophy makes sound business sense. Any corporation, in our industry, that wants to succeed today, has to care passionately about its business and compassionately about its people because businesses that fail to understand, and act on this, will probably fail.
  • The only sustainable competitive advantage in business today is its people. The competition can copy your technology and latest feature, but they can?t copy the skills, knowledge, judgement, and creativity of your committed workforce. People ARE the edge today.
  • There is a new ?social contract? being made today where companies are asking employees to change, to be innovative, and creative. Employees, in return, are then stating, ?well in that case let me try and do it, rather than watching over my shoulder trying to clone me like you, because I am not you. Yes, I will make mistakes, because no one, including you, is perfect, but I will learn through my mistakes and become a much better employee, and person, for it. When you display, and support, confidence in me, in the long run, I will not let you down. Also, for my concerted effort and dedication to the task requested, it is only fair that I am properly compensated.?

All these are key points, and there is no doubt there are heavy duty service shops who will either agree with them, or argue it is still the employees fault anyway because ?they just don?t want to work.? At this point, with statements like that, one must make an assessment as to whether this shop owner is willing to change the way he/she thinks. People are willing to work when they have something positive to be motivated about that creates the desire to work. A good starting point for management is to have a respect for the employee as an individual, and a respect for the skills that they have worked so hard to achieve. The next hint is to display pride in your ?team?, and each member, openly in front of the client. If you arer not proud of your team and each member in your shop, it doesn?t say much for management?s ability; after all, who hired them, who trained them, and who pays them?

Today everyone must be willing to understand that personnel management is not a ?one time meeting?, but rather a nurturing process that requires on-going discussion and understanding of points of view from both sides over a longer period of time. The over-all benefits to the business, and its bottom line, are enormous. This is truly the expression of ?entrepreneurship? where the

management of the shop is leading the business, and the ?employees? have a strong desire to follow.

As this sample problem has shown, if the owner is not prepared to change, then one must accept that the shop will not grow, and will actually experience serious financial difficulties, if not already there. Entrepreneurs must devote their time to the progression of their business, because they realize that their shop will be one of the few that will be here in five years, coupled with a ?team? standing alongside with them. Everyone has each other?s back !!!

Take the time to learn about your employees. Express, and show, your concern for their future, and I believe you will be amazed at the positive response you will get from the better technicians/staff in the marketplace.

Taking the steps to strengthen your relationship with your employees is good business sense. Strengthen it by having open discussions about the industry, the business, and every individual?s role within the business. It does take time. It does take several meetings. It does take commitment, but the long-term rewards are great. The choice is yours.

Effective personnel management takes creative thinking. Consider that anyone who has ever taken a shower has had an idea. However, it?s only the person who gets out of the shower, dries off, and does something about it that succeeds.

If you?d like help, I?m here; it?s my specialty. Reach out and e-mail me: greenwood@aaec.ca

Bob Greenwood