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Archive for July, 2018

Road to Green: HD Shops Must “RE & RE” Their Business

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Studies of the HD sector are confirming that Independent HD shops are losing the struggle to retain the clients’ on-going business versus the growth in bay service business that New HD Dealerships are experiencing.  In close examination as to why this is happening, the main reason is due to a lack of business focus by Management of the Independent HD shop.  Too many business owners and managers are “too busy” not making money instead of slowing down and preparing their business to meet the client’s real needs and wants for their commercial vehicles.

Consider that weak shop owners focus on “cost’ to save money, whereas the most successful shops focus on “value” to make money.

Consider that new business standards are required for this new heavy duty aftermarket sector that most shop Owners/Managers have not addressed within their business operation.

It is time to “re & re” the Independent Heavy Duty shop.

Review each of these items within your own operation to ensure your business is heading in the right direction to retain all your clients business.  If you ignore these items, there is a real possibility that you are already, or soon will, lose your clients to the dealership(s) within your area.

1. Re-New the Business Format:   The “same old, same old” does not work anymore.  Shops cannot “bang them in and bang them out” ONLY doing what the client asked for.  The math does not work anymore with that format.  In fact, Independent HD shops that concentrate mainly on “volume” to keep “the boys busy” do not know that, on average, 60% of the work that they do does NOT create $1 of NET profit for their business.  It only creates sales and gross profit. They do not know how to measure this.  They are working very hard to stand still and in many cases actually move backwards in their business. Today, your business must be very focused on each individual client, one client at a time and deliver value.  Management’s number one job is to build relationships; therefore Management must slow down at the front counter and take the proper time to meet, understand, and council individual clients as to what the manufacturer recommends to ensure safe, reliable and efficient driving with their vehicle.  Service maintenance and service intervals must be discussed with the client. That is YOUR professional responsibility to the client. Client vehicle technology and maintenance education is more critical today than ever before.  The average rig owner today is not “stupid”; but they are uninformed! Slow down!!! and define the value you are prepared to deliver to each client.

2. Re-Learn the Business: Continuous technical and business training and development is mandatory today.  Professionally operating an Independent heavy duty repair shop is the most complex business in this new aftermarket, requiring not only a great deal of capital, but also higher in-depth skills than ever before. Consider technical development of the vehicle now requires highly skilled technicians who embrace vehicle knowledge with a tremendous amount of personal pride.  These technicians are highly skilled professionals. The depth of knowledge they must completely understand, and stay on top of, is mind boggling, and it is the shop’s Management’s responsibility to ensure these professionals have all the right training and tools to execute their skill.

Management (shop owners) must also continuously visit “classrooms” to stay on top of all business issues, and there are many.  It is a new world order today and this new order affects the very profitability, and potential future viability, of an Independent HD shop. Management must learn and measure the business in a totally different format today.  Just measuring parts and labor sales and following the shops bank account up and down, doesn’t work.  Management must stay on top of the business numbers to ensure they are measuring NET PROFIT on each repair order before the invoice is closed off, one R/O at a time.  Businesses that are only interested in sales and price of commodities don’t get it yet.  The question that must be asked is “do these shop owners have any desire to get it?

4. Re-Certify the Business: Management must establish “standards of execution” throughout the shop.  Define your standards in print.  Each staff member from the front counter, to the back office, to the back shop must completely understand and “believe-in” to “how” to execute their function that in turn exceeds the clients expectations. Certification today is just not a piece of paper or experience.  Certification is an Attitude!  “We will not let the client down”. “We care!”. We will take the “responsibility” to make sure your vehicle maintenance and your experience within the walls of our shop, exceeds your expectations. “We will be second to none.”

5. Re-Professionalize the Business: Management must establish on-going reviews with each staff member to ensure they are continuously aware of the importance of their personal day-to-day execution of their particular function within the shop and how it affects the clients perception of the shops professionalism.  Management must also continuously review the systems within the shop.  The systems are not only the software systems but also includes the “processes” in “how” the shop delivers its services to the commercial client.  

To “Re & Re” your shop today is simply not “knowing what to do”.  You must become proactive.  Consider this statement; “It’s not what you know, it is what you do with what you know”.

Too many HD shop owners today are very apathetic and act like “deer staring into the headlights”.  Their actions seem to be advertising “I don’t care about that stuff (above) and I have no desire to get it.” It is very unfortunate that these shop owners insist on hanging around in our industry as they are definitely affecting the image of the Independent sector which in turn hurts the best Independent HD shops within the country.  Consider also that these weak shops work to the benefit of the new HD Dealers in that individual commercial clients do not enjoy the experience at the weak shops and too many are assuming all Independents must be the same.

The challenge in front of the HD Independent sector is not an easy one; however, it is possible to turn things around when all HD Independent shops start to communicate with each other about the importance of raising the shop operation bar. Consider discussing the above issues with your parts supplier who sells to these weak shops and all of your HD shop peers to see if your market area is interested in “taking the market back”.

Total Solutions and Standard Operating Procedures for Heavy Duty Truck Repair Now Available from 3M Automotive Aftermarket Division

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Heavy duty truck repairs present a tremendous opportunity for today’s collision repair industry. However, many repair professionals who focus on heavy duty trucks are challenged to find the standard operating procedures and specialized products needed to deliver high-quality, durable and cost-effective repairs.

To help heavy duty truck repair shops service these big rigs more efficiently, 3M Automotive Aftermarket Division has created an online Heavy Duty Truck Repair Center to offer all of the solutions, SOPs and repair processes – in one convenient location. Whether repairing fiberglass (FRP), sheet molded compound (SMC), METTON® (Liquid Molding Resin) or traditional metals, 3M offers step-by-step guidance to make the repair, protect it from corrosion and keep the overall vehicle looking great.

 Panel Repair Is Faster With the Correct Adhesives

When it comes to repairing damaged SMC, FRP, TPO or METTON®, understanding which adhesive to use and where to use it is critical for a sound repair. 3M offers a range of solutions to fit every repair need. Many, including 3M™ SMC/Fiberglass Repair Adhesive, come in 400ml cartridges so technicians can stay on the job much longer without having to unload and reload empty cartridges.

3M adhesives are used primarily for bonding and filling repair areas such as frontside, backside and cosmetic panel repair for heavy duty trucks. Depending on which substrate is used it may require a flexible or a rigid adhesive or an adhesive that helps build strength and rigidity. When working overhead or on a vertical surface with traditional fiberglass matting and resin, a technician may require an adhesive with more vertical hold. Searching for a composite and/or metal bonder with rust inhibitors? The bigger question now becomes: what products and standard operating procedures are technicians using today to complete the repair with safety and productivity in mind?

Regardless of the repair – composite, rivet bonding, panel replacement or adding an isolator between panels to protect from galvanic corrosion – 3M has a solution. 3M supports its products with easy-to-read SOPs to help technicians get the job done right the first time.

 Controlling Dust Is a Must for a Cleaner, more Productive Shop

Constantly battling to keep the shop clean? There are many sources of dirt, dust and debris in a collision shop. Managing dust in a shop can reduce rework, increase production efficiency, provide a better environment for technicians, and leave a more professional impression with existing and potential customers.

Grinding, welding, sanding, painting and polishing can all create that layer of dust that collects everywhere. Dust from fiberglass, SMC, body filler and primer has a way of spreading around and makes an enormous impact on cleanliness.

A growing trend is the use of dust extraction systems and new developments in this technology are making them even more efficient and easier to use.

The traditional full central vac systems weren’t popular because of the large, bulky hoses that typically need to be attached to technicians’ tools. One option that has gained popularity is mobile dust extraction units like the Total Automotive Sanding System from 3M and Festool. This system uses a small, mobile dust extractor that can be moved around the shop from job to job and can be used by two technicians at a time. This versatile mobile option addresses a great deal of the technician’s previous resistance and can be very practical for facilities of any size.

The system combines 3M best-in-class abrasives with Festool premium power tools and dust extraction solutions. Customers can easily configure the best systems for their specific shops and dust extraction needs. The Total Automotive Sanding System mobile dust extraction units and multiple dust-free tools and long hose length options (up to 10 meters/32.8 ft) are effective solutions for the large vehicle sizes typical in heavy duty truck and commercial shops. Also, the hoses feature rotating adapters that greatly increase freedom of motion when using a power sanding tool connected to the dust extractor. Once an optimized dust extraction system is integrated, the shop will quickly start to see many benefits of a cleaner work environment.

*Note: The Total Automotive Sanding System mobile dust extractor is not approved for use with aluminum dust.

Grinding Is a Laborious Task – Save Time and Effort with 3M™ Cubitron™ II Abrasives

 In the heavy duty truck, bus and commercial vehicle market, it doesn’t matter if the job consists of surface preparation, weld grinding, spot weld removal, sectioning, panel trimming, cutting steel stock or rivet removal — 3M™ Cubitron™ II is the answer.

3M™ Cubitron™ II abrasives feature precision-shaped ceramic abrasive grain technology. These proprietary ceramic grains are precisely shaped into triangular structures – essentially, sharp peaks that slice, not plow, through paint and metal. The result is faster surface prep for paint, cutting of welds, side panel removal and door skin removal.

For the ultimate cut-off wheel for cutting sheet metal, frame rails, clamps or rusted bolts, fiberglass/SMC or very heavy stock, choose the 3M™ Cubitron™ II Cut-Off Wheel. It provides long-lasting life due to the cooler running abrasive during the cutting process.

When removing a spot weld or rivet, rather than the typical process involving a drill bit – which in the case of high strength steel-can be very labor intensive and cost the shop thousands of dollars per year in drill bits alone, an easier and less-expensive solution is the 3M™ Cubitron™ II File Belt and File Belt Sander, which improves control, uses less effort, and costs significantly less. Technicians can grind exactly where they intend, i.e. the head of the rivet or spot weld, without damaging the strength and integrity of the host panel.

Cavity Wax: OEMs Use It for a Reason — Vehicle Preservation

When a truck or commercial vehicle is manufactured, preventive measures are taken to resist corrosion over the life of that vehicle. After a collision repair, these protective materials can be compromised and need to be restored properly. Restoring the corrosion protection and being careful not to create new corrosion hot-spots is the key to a proper repair and safer vehicle.

Corrosion does not simply occur due to road salt and the elements. Common procedures such as grinding, welding and cutting in truck collision repair – anything that compromises the OEM corrosion protection process – can create opportunities for corrosion. Learn more about the causes and prevention of corrosion here.

3M offers a complete solution for preventing corrosion following a repair — cavity wax, seam sealants, coatings and paint systems. To help protect the integrity of the repair when access to the backside is difficult or limited, use 3M™ Cavity Wax Plus. This product will effectively coat and protect from corrosion by sealing out oxygen. This is easy-to-use aerosol product in a convenient can eliminates the need for bulk spray equipment. The 24” and a 34” wands with small 360-degree applicators at the ends are easy to insert into cavities such as cab corners or frame rails. The 360 degree applicators ensure that the coating is applied evenly on all surfaces. An additional 8” wand is great for flooding joints and for easy-to-access areas.

Reduce Solvent and Paint Waste with 3M™ PPS™ Series 2.0 Paint Cup System

For painters challenged with painting large surfaces with large-format paint cups, the 3M™ PPS™ Series 2.0 Spray Cup System offers an excellent solution. The 3M PPS Series 2.0 Spray Cup System dramatically improves the painting process with a revolutionary new spray cup design that delivers advanced performance, efficiency and cleanliness.

The 3M™ PPS™ Disposable Paint Cup System has reduced solvent use by up to 70 percent and decreased prep time by up to 50 percent in shops all over the world.   It quickly became the standard for painters around the world.

Now, 3M has improved this system with a new spray cup design that eliminates the collar, adds a quarter-turn lid locking system and incorporates new features to make painting easier and more efficient.

To learn more about the six key improvements in 3M™ PPS Series 2.0 Spray Cup System and see a demonstration, visit here.

The elimination of the separate collar with the quarter-turn lid locking system improves the cleanliness in the painting process and eliminates potential sources of contamination due to equipment cleaning or maintenance. The easy assembly and refilling process improves the efficiency for high-production painters, while the wider adapter allows them to use a larger cup for consistent, efficient batch painting.

3M Accuspray™ ONE Spray Guns Provide Flexibility, Reduce Clean-Up Time

With the new spray cups and related equipment, 3M also provides a new series of atomizing heads that allow shops to use the 3M PPS™ Series 2.0 with Accuspray™ ONE spray guns without an adapter. The 3M™ Accuspray™ ONE Spray Gun is a lightweight, composite spray gun body that is molded in one piece, eliminating the complexity of cleaning and maintenance of small parts and pieces. 3M™ Accuspray™ atomizing heads for PPS™ Series 2.0 provide the same stable four-point connection to the spray gun. Replaceable atomizing heads can be reused 5-10 times and then removed and replaced – the performance of a brand new spray gun, on-demand and at a fraction of the price.

Painters can quickly choose the correct head according to its color: 2.0 mm (red), 1.8 mm (clear), 1.4 mm (orange), 1.3 mm (green) and 1.2 mm (blue) for a wide range of materials from basecoats to primers to undercoats or industrial coatings. For technician convenience, the millimeter size is presented clearly on each atomizing head for easy identification.

 Buff Efficiently with 3M™ Perfect-It™ EX and Quick Connect Paint Finishing System

The 3M™ Perfect-It™ EX system is designed to deliver optimal performance during paint finishing, every time.

3M™ Purple Finishing Film and 3M™ Trizact™ abrasives are essential tools for the paint defect removal and refinement processes, allowing painters and detailers to complete the defect removal process much more quickly. 3M™ Trizact™ grade 3000 and 5000 is used to further refine previous 1500 or 2000 grade sand scratches, making the buffing process easier and helping shops save time and compound material cost. The Trizact mineral itself consists of precisely-shaped three-dimensional “pyramids” distributed uniformly over the surface of the disc. As the pyramids wear, fresh, sharp mineral is constantly exposed to the workpiece, resulting in faster, more consistent performance throughout the life of the disc.

After all defects have been removed and sand scratches totally refined, the final steps of the paint finishing process are to compound and polish. 3M has added a new assortment of wool and foam pads called 3M™ Quick Connect. 3M Quick Connect Pads are designed to provide optimal performance when used with the Perfect-It™ EX system. The 3M™ Quick Connect Adaptor makes it very easy to quickly switch between compound and polishing pads and center the pads, eliminating wobbling or vibration to help minimize user fatigue and improve technician productivity.

When a shop makes the 3M Paint Finishing System their go-to system, they benefit in both speed and results.

All of these repair processes and more can be found with step-by-step detail at It can also be found on the 3M Collision app for iPhones, which can be downloaded from the Apple app store.

3M Automotive Aftermarket Division Keeps the World Moving

3M automotive products keep the world on the move, with innovative solutions for building, repairing and maintaining vehicles. From the collision repair professional to the individual vehicle enthusiast, people around the world trust 3M products to protect, repair and keep their vehicles looking showroom new. And our commitment to this industry extends beyond product performance to a careful stewardship of the world’s resources and environment. Serving the needs of our customers has made 3M a trusted leader in vehicle care and repair, and we are dedicated to earning that trust each and every day.

For more information, contact 1-877-MMM-CARS, contact your local 3M Distributor or 3M Sales Representative or visit the website at Follow 3M AAD on Facebook at and on twitter @3M_Collision and Instagram @3MCollision.

About 3M

At 3M, we apply science in collaborative ways to improve lives daily. With $32 billion in sales, our 91,000 employees connect with customers all around the world. Learn more about 3M’s creative solutions to the world’s problems at or on Twitter @3M or @3MNews.


What’s New In Heavy Duty Welding, Part 3

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Over the last couple of months, I-CAR has been discussing welding requirements for heavy duty collision repair. Brian Wasson, Welding Program Manager at I-CAR, presented ‘What’s New in Heavy Duty Welding’ at the HD Forum in Fort Worth, Texas. We have already discussed identifying materials, preparing your working environment and the welding process.

As you heard, the materials used to build vehicles have moved from the mild steel we all know to new construction methods such as High-Strength Steel, Ultra-High Strength Steel, Aluminum and more to come. GMA MAG (Metal Active Gas, commonly referred as MIG) welding has become the automotive industry standard for repairs. Thanks to the influx of new materials that require less heat, other attachment methods have been introduced like MIG brazing, spot welding, and rivet bonding.

How can you make sure you and your staff have the skills and knowledge to perform those repairs? I-CAR provides welding training for technicians that includes explanations of how welding has changed and hands-on instruction to develop the skills and methods for quality welds. In addition, I-CAR also provides specific hands-on course to address these other attachment methods too.

Welding background is provided through courses on hazardous materials, welding theory, and panel repair and replacement. Hands-on training includes work on Aluminum and Steel GMA methods, along with Rivet Bonding, MIG Brazing and Squeeze-Type Resistance Spot Welding. I-CAR works with many automotive manufacturers to help develop welding programs appropriate for their models.

Whether you are welding the frame or other parts of the vehicle, proper training will help you gain and apply the knowledge and skills to execute those welds with confidence. That confidence makes your work better and your customers safer.

Road to Green: The Future IS Promising

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The future for the Independent Heavy Duty sector looks very promising, and will prove to be an exceptionally profitable period over the next 5 to 7 years compared to the last 10 years BUT only for the HD shop owners who truly understand their client base, their business, and the HD industry.

The supply / demand economic equation will be clearly understood by most HD shop owners as the supply of competent technicians has dried up, but the demand is forever increasing throughout the industry, which will force wage levels to rise quite dramatically over the next two to three years. Already we have seen in various areas that competent technicians are receiving $28 to $45 per hour with a $1,000 signing bonus, proving this shortage is not confined to one area of North America. These levels of wage rates can add to the “brain-drain” situation that is affecting North America in every industry.

Finding competent technicians is certainly one issue, but what will happen to our industry and the independent heavy duty shop itself, under this financial scenario?

In the long run, this is excellent for our industry, as competent technicians finally become recognized by the industry, that they are working in a “profession” rather than a “trade” and that technicians are highly skilled individuals deserving of a professional income. In the short run, it could cause absolute financial ruin as most shop owners are not aware of all the detailed numbers of their business and how they contribute to the net income of the business, or, properly versed on how to pass on the right labor costs to their clients. They are running their business based mainly on “price”, trying to tell everyone they are the best, and at the same time, the cheapest. They have failed to educate their clients about the level of expertise that is now required to maintain today’s HD vehicles and trailers, and that competent expertise does have a price tag to go along with it. It is also about HD shop efficiencies which is an on-going learning curve the HD sector must learn as “efficiency” affects your true cost per billed hour.

Shop owners must change how they measure their labor revenue component.   Rather than measure by one labor revenue department, labor should be broken down into a minimum of three categories, namely, a maintenance/mechanical labor department, a diagnostic labor department and a re-flash labor department. Each labor department has different skill level of technicians. The maintenance mechanical labor door rate should be set at a minimum of 4.5 times the top mechanical technicians hourly wage, (i.e. $23 X 4.5 = $103.50) or 85% of your true cost per billed hour, the diagnostic labor rate should be set at a minimum of 5.35 times the diagnostic technicians wage, (i.e. $29 X 5.35 = $155.15 per hour) or 115% of your true cost per billed hour and the re-flash rate at 6.0 times the technicians hourly wage, (i.e $32 X 6.0 = $192.00) or 125% of your true cost per billed hour. These additional rates are known as tier rates. The higher multiplier rate factor is necessary not only to cover high tech equipment purchase costs, and their faster replacement costs, but also on-going software upgrades of said equipment, on-going high end HD training, subscription fees and also Management and Service Advisor time that must be spent with the client. Management’s and Service Advisor time is consumed by educating the client as to the diagnostic process to take place, as well as keeping the client informed, and ensuring client confidence in the shop is maintained during and after the process. Until the client

HD vehicle mix of the shop is measured and understood; (“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”) an interim guideline of a minimum of 25% of the labor hours billed through the bays should be going out at the diagnostic rate.

When shop management understands who they are selling to, how to implement the new strategy and measure, document and sell these tier rates with client satisfaction, the contribution to gross profit of the shop can be tremendous. When gross profit is enhanced, net profit is enhanced. Management expertise now drives future growth of the heavy duty business and the future bottom line of the business.

Are you up-to-date in your Management expertise to embrace the new profit potential available in our heavy duty industry?