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Archive for the ‘Heavy-duty collision repair’ Category

Examining Infrared Drying Solutions For Your Prep Area

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When examining solutions to increase production in the paint shop, all the emphasis is placed on the paint booth. The paint booth is the most noticeable piece of equipment in the shop, the most expensive, and the one that can make or break production. The right paint booth solution and paint shop layout can increase your throughput and keep your productivity goals on track. But there is still another area where productivity gains are easily found, and that is in the prep area.

No matter what your shop layout is, you have to have some area to prime and prep cars for paint. Some shops have several of these grouped among the paint booth. Since 99% of your repairs are only going to involve a few panels, your prep deck is the area where you spot prime and sand panels before final paint. 

In a pinch, you may even paint a panel in the prep area during high volume periods. Even in a pinch, you may also paint the occasional panel during high volume periods. Your prep deck allows you to push more work through the shop, by acting like the paint booth’s helper. What if there was a way to turn one prep deck into two perhaps even three or more prep decks without adding any additional filters, fans, ductwork, curtains or square footage? Well, the good news is that you can with a catalytic drying robot for your prep deck.

You are probably familiar with infrared drying in a prep deck. Shops have been using infrared drying lights for some years now, but they have been slow to catch on. This situation is because they are bulky, heavy, and get dirty pretty quickly reducing their utility. Electric IR dryers are also very analog. They require a lot of user experience do dial in the temperatures and make sure you are not melting bumpers or boiling paint. For as sophisticated as Infrared drying can be in a shop, the electric IR dryers are nothing more than glorified toasters.

Learning From The Europeans

In Europe, cars get repaired differently. Everything in Europe is about maximizing space. Streets are narrower, and vehicles are smaller and so are the body shops. As a result of this, European body shops have had to figure out how to move more vehicles through small shops using innovative technologies such as infrared drying.

The Italians have developed an infrared drying system that operates on LP or natural gas and is rail mounted, and robotic. This factor eliminates the need to drag around bulky electric IR arrays, move 220 Amp cords around, and keep the reflectors and bulbs clear of overspray.

How Gas Catalytic Dryers Help

While you don’t need an Infrared dryer to cure paint, catalytic dryers cure materials like primers in minutes. Gas catalytic dryers come mounted on a rail system, and one unit can service multiple bays. When you can cut dry times by half or more, you can get more vehicles through prep and into the paint booth. Gas catalytic dryers also eliminate the user error of electric IR dryers because the gas systems use temperature sensors to set and maintain surface temps. They can also switch panels on and off to achieve the desired results automatically. As shops seek new ways to squeeze more productivity out of an existing footprint, Gas Catalytic drying has proven time after time to cut production times without sacrificing quality.

 

For more information, please contact Gascat

Customer Satisfaction Measurements Should Be a Priority

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Does customer satisfaction exist? No. Not in the HD repair industry, anyway.

There are too many players, too many constituents, too many people that are not “customers” that influence the process and the outcome of an HD repair. We are not selling T-shirts online. Some days, we probably wish we were. This is a more complex business. There are nuances to be considered in every unique repair.

Still, we have an innate desire to do the right thing. To provide great service to the HD owners, fleet managers, insurance company representatives, TPA’s and OE’s; to work efficiently with paint companies, parts providers, and multiple other vendors.

To help keep ourselves on track and ensure we are doing things the right way, we rely heavily on measurements. We have financials that include P&L’s, balance sheets, income statements and breakouts of business units that tell us how much money is in the bank. We measure cycle time, and parts, and paint usage. We track how many hours our employees work and how much money we are spending on marketing as a percentage of sales. Measurements are everywhere.

But for many of us, measurements of customer satisfaction- commonly called CSAT- remain an afterthought. But-there are those words again– customer satisfaction. Although it is probably not an adequate descriptor, I may have to revert to using it in a very generic and holistic sense, since there is no word (that I can think of) that more accurately describes everyone and all the organizations that influence a repair in the HD industry.

The comparison of financial statements and customer satisfaction is an interesting exercise. And, if not an actual exercise, (likely due to inadequate CSAT data points), at least an interesting philosophical discussion. Where does CAST show up on the balance sheet? Well, it doesn’t. Assuming you are making money (let’s hope so!) how can you therefore determine if the numbers in financials represent good profit or bad profit? Is there such a thing as bad profit? Yes- but let’s just say not-so-good profit. What is not-so-good profit (NSGP)?

  • NSGP values policy over relationships, making it more likely that costs will be driven up in the future due to short-term gains in the present
  • NSGP allows customers to remain unsatisfied, causing future brand deterioration by negative word of mouth
  • NSGP allows customers to remain unsatisfied, driving up future service costs that you may not be able to get compensated for
  • NSGP measures cycle time, but not comeback percentage
  • NSGP gums up the works by tying up your resources with complaints or re-work, that as an additional side effect is also quite de-motivating, if prevalent enough

Interestingly, without customers, there would be no need for financial statements, paint, parts, or much of anything else for that matter. Yet, some owners and managers relay on the old “I know my customers”, “I know everything that is going on in my business” mantra. There are two major reason why, even if partially true, it is best practice to systematically verify your beliefs.

First, customers won’t tell you everything they will tell a computer screen or a live agent with whom they have no history or personal investment. And, with your best source of future work being a recommendation, it is vital to harvest this feedback. Even customers that are completely satisfied can provide valuable information for future operational improvements and future products and services.

In a study of thousands of customer satisfaction surveys, TenPoint Complete found that even those customers that rated the overall experience a 9 or a 10 on a ten-point scale, approximately 25% of them had some aspect of the experience they thought could have been improved.

That brings up a second point, which is that expectation levels are constantly changing. You are not only compared to your peers in the industry, but to other service providers, some of which are doing a very good job. Many, however, are still not exceeding expectations, or creating raving fans. This is actually good news, as you have the opportunity to step-up and position yourself in the mind of the customer (insurance company, fleet manager, OE, TPA etc.) as an exceptional provider.

A recent personal example of a service failure occurred when I ordered checks from my bank (yes, still need the paper kind on occasion). Long story short, it took over three weeks and several frustrating phone calls to accomplish this task. My feedback was straightforward: Providing check re-orders should be a core service competency. The expectation level today is not two or three weeks on a request of this nature- it is two or three days.

There are certainly many additional advantages to CSAT measurement. If this has at least provided some food for thought, I’ll wrap up with some best practices or characteristics of CSAT measurement.

The Six C’s of CSAT Measurement

Commitment From the top. The owners, executives, and managers that sponsor or initiate the programs must be fully invested in their implementation, or it will be very difficult to achieve the goals.

Customer Focused Strategy Sounds obvious, but the measurements need to create action. For example, customers need to be followed up with upon receipt of negative feedback. How many times have you given negative feedback and not been acknowledged? Not good!

Consistent Many companies produce an annual CSAT measurement. While this is better than nothing, it leaves a lot on the table, like the opportunity to impact corporate culture and the ability to use results as part of an overall management tool and philosophy.

Complex Not! Complex measurements and formulas are interesting to statisticians and people who work in the industry, but not many others! Survey questions, reports, and other tools should be straightforward, intuitive, and easily understood.

Comprehensive From a methodology standpoint, you may want to consider a company that utilizes omni-channel communication. For example, the ability to survey via SMS (text), E-mail, and live agent. Also, having the option of an invitation to social media may be of interest.

Credible Measurements need to be credible to influence your important stakeholders and constituents. Producing the measurements yourself or relying on a company that does not have a core focus in CSAT measurement may dilute your efforts.

In future installments, we will explore more specific uses for the measurements in the HD environment and some of the most widely used tools for this type of strategic initiative.

Heavy-Duty Truck Repair Provides Limitless Opportunities to Rural Business

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In 2002, Chris Lindstrom started Practical Applications, a specialty manure handling and spreading business in Durand, Wisconsin. He managed a fleet of semis and truck-mounted spreaders designed to handle any size field at any distance from the client’s farm.

Two years later, he expanded his services, acquired another facility and started Maxville Truck and Repair. Maxville now offers custom truck builds and truck alterations, silage, grain and TMR trucks, and new truck sales.

His niche was noticed from hundreds of miles away. The business grew rapidly via word of mouth and reached areas such as Iowa, Tennessee, Kentucky and even Australia. Through the growth, Lindstrom recognized a need for heavy-duty truck repair.

After 10 years of coordinating with outside painters and sandblasters, Lindstrom was ready to expedite the process and bring painting services in-house. He reached out to local paint booth manufacturer, Global Finishing Solutions (GFS).

“I didn’t do any shopping around,” Lindstrom said. “GFS was down the road, and I knew they produced quality paint booths. I even trucked the paint booth over myself. It took two trips, but it was worth it.”

In June 2014, Maxville Truck and Repair started up their new 18-by-16-by-50-foot drive-thru crossdraft Heavy-Duty Truck Paint Booth for the first time. Since then, Lindstrom has stuck to the same paint scheme for his fleet of trucks — Massey Ferguson Red, black and a silver/gray metallic.

“With our truck paint booth, we produce consistent, clean and quality work,” Lindstrom mentioned. “It has improved our image 100 percent.”

In a dirty business like manure, it is going above and beyond that makes Maxville stand out — as a supplier and an employer.

“The paint booth isn’t for me, it’s for my people,” Lindstrom added. “My drivers take pride in what they’re doing. They look professional and they put out better work. I also didn’t want my people spraying in an unsafe and dirty environment.”

Lindstrom is a jack of many trades. He builds and paints hose reels, fabricates bumpers, and paints custom trucks and trailers. With sandblasting and painting services in-house, there is not much they cannot do.

“I don’t buy anything new,” Lindstrom said. “We have the ability to put anything together. We can fix it up and make anything look good.”

Since the addition of their truck paint booth, Lindstrom has also noticed he is able to rapidly turn trucks over.

“Our truck paint booth has definitely shortened the time it takes to get trucks done,” Lindstrom explained. “It has improved how I look with my fleet. It’s pretty cool that I can make my stuff look awesome.”

Heavy-Duty Truck Repair Pays Off

Businesses that perform heavy-duty truck repairs are hard to come by, especially in rural areas. When an oversized vehicle is in an accident, the nearest shop with a paint booth large enough to accommodate it is sometimes hundreds of miles away.

Although Maxville is not positioned directly off an interstate, Lindstrom saw the potential in adding a truck paint booth. Without a single competitor within two hours, he is able to assist his customers in repairing large vehicles. Depicted below is a $10,000 to $12,000 truck job, which can be a week’s worth of work for the company.

The purchase of a heavy-duty truck paint booth is a game-changer for most shops. Not only does it increase the physical paint booth footprint, it can also boost their bottom line. Maxville Truck and Repair is a prime example, as they can accommodate practically anything that is oversized.

HD Repair Forum Secures Plans for 2020 Event

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Plans for the third annual HD Repair Forum have been confirmed. The 2020 event is scheduled for March 24-25 at The Worthington Renaissance Fort Worth Hotel. Registration will open in the fall of 2019. To keep up to date with the HD Repair Forum’s agenda, speakers, and current news in the commercial vehicle collision repair industry, sign up for the monthly HD Repair Forum newsletter.

“The HD Repair Forum brings together all stakeholders from the heavy-duty collision repair industry. The event provides attendees an opportunity to discuss trends, address industry challenges, and evaluate key business strategies.” explains Jennie Lenk, Communications Manager for the HD Repair Forum.

The 2019 event saw significant growth from its inaugural meeting, proving the HD Repair Forum, with the guidance of its advisory board members, is addressing the needs of the industry.

A few of the highlights from the 2019 event included presentations from Daimler, Navistar, Peterbilt, Volvo, Heavy Duty Manufacturers Association (HDMA) and I-CAR. Session topics focused on a myriad of industry issues such as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), electric and hybrid vehicles, liquified and compressed natural gas vehicles, and a panel of insurance executives discussing claims handling and industry collaboration.

“Attendees also witnessed a historic announcement and well earned recognition, as I-CAR acknowledged Penske Truck Collision of Norcross, Georgia, as the first-ever commercial vehicle collision repair facility with an I-CAR Gold Class certification,” states Lenk.

In addition to presentations, attendees gathered valuable knowledge for business sustainability and growth in a series of breakout sessions designed around process improvement and profitability.

Companies interested in participating can do so through sponsorship and advertising opportunities that are now available. Call 281-819-2332 or visit the website for more information.

Interested in getting more involved, or even hosting a co-located event? Send your inquiries to Brian Nessen BrianN@hdrepalrforum.com or Jennie Lenk JennieL@hdrepairforum.com

Training or Development – What do we really need? Are you ready for some in-depth analysis

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Heavy Duty shop owners from coast to coast talk about training required for their shop. Consider the terminology “training”. This terminology creates a certain mind-set in terms of results desired with the approach to the topic from the person speaking the words. Perhaps it is time to re-examine what words need to be embraced to get our mind-set focused properly to allow us to really move the shop forward considering all of today’s realities.

I would like to submit for your consideration the following definitions:

TRAINING: Limiting the behavioral responses to a given stimulus.

DEVELOPMENT: To increase behavioral alternatives to the same stimulus.

It has often been thought that “technical training” was always required for a HD shop in order to learn which “right way” is required to do it. This worked very well in the “mechanical” world years ago. I am submitting to you that it is not technical “training” that is required today but in fact today it is technical “development” that is required. The on-going development of building a technician’s diagnostic skill level and knowledge does not lead to a “right way” to do something, but in fact it leads to providing many alternatives to explore an approach, in order to discover the correct solution to the problem. The proper “development” and building of this knowledge, in the end, allows the technician to provide time effective solutions, which in turn, ends up serving the HD shop’s client in a very professional manner. Without the proper “development” of this technical knowledge, which must be recognized as continuous and on-going, and instead where management is only focusing on limited “training”, ends up producing results where the technician “fumbles around” for a number of hours without the proper solution. Consider “training” is specific, whereas “development” is all encompassing. Think about it…. no Heavy Duty shop can afford a training process today, they require a development process.

It is also well spoken in our industry that management requires business training. I submit that “Business Seminar Training” today, in fact, only relates to one facet of the business, such as a product knowledge session. Consider that other “Business Seminar Training” produces “hype” to create short-term immediate sales, or activity, for the sponsor of the “training,” as it creates the conditions for the attendees to become very motivated. Consider that “hype-type” motivation is now out-of-date in terms of addressing the real problems of our industry and is truly a waste of money in terms of a vision or culture for a HD shop. This type of “hype-training” always has a habit of disappearing within two to three weeks, if not sooner. The statement must be made that “hype-training” lacks the “test of time”.

I submit to you that we do not need a “fire under the bum” type motivational training, which is an exterior motivation format that gets an individual “pumped” that quite frankly worked 10 to 20 years ago in the much simpler commodity era of our industry. Today’s shop business realities are very in-depth knowledge based, focused, very complex, and all encompassing. This is why “fire under the bum” type training disappears too easily. It has no substance.

Consider today, we need a “fire in the belly”. This is different. It creates the results environment of learning business knowledge at a depth level effectively enough that it creates a gnawing at ones inside gut, which in turn, creates the personal determination, a personal self-motivation if you will, to get on with it and get it done. It is also time consuming and not an “over-night visit”. The atmosphere and attitude approach required to create this gnawing is called “Business Development”, not “Business Training”. Development provides the tools in the form of a proven business concept for the owner to embrace coupled with the on-going availability of business knowledge to support its depth. The most important key word here is… support…. which in turn allows for sustaining behavioral development.

Behavioral development is very personal, in that it is totally adaptable to the individual’s own personality. Development is exceptionally in-depth in its presentation and especially its content message. It creates a picture in one’s mind as to what can be. Business Development does not “limit behavioral responses” but it, in turn, “increases behavioral responses” due to its depth of perspective. It has many angles to be examined by the individual in its understanding which allows for the development to be achieved. Business development understanding is not just spending a few hours at night or attending a one-day stand, but, in fact, encompasses many days in order to understand its focus.

Don’t be surprised if you have to read the above few paragraphs two or three times as it is important to understand the differences between “training” and “development”. I spent a lot of time trying to create the sentences I have written here to try to get across my point. The explanations truly are in-depth but I must admit, difficult to explain in this article format. My hope is that you begin to recognize that this is not a simple topic.

HD Collision Repair Task Forces Established at 2019 TMC Meeting in Atlanta

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HD Collision Repair Task Forces Established at 2019 TMC Meeting in Atlanta

During the 2019 TMC Spring Exhibition held in Atlanta March 18-21, 2019, “collision repair” continued its growth, as a topic for task force meetings. Fleets, suppliers, OEMs, and repairers gathered at the first-ever hosted task force meeting dedicated to this segment of the transportation industry. This meeting’s two Collision Task Forces were chaired by Joey Fasset of PennFleet Corporation and Chris Sterwerf of Fairfield Auto & Truck Service, Inc. Both meetings generated conversation about the opportunities participants have to create industry-vetted documents, which would benefit fleets by helping them to understand the steps and processes that go into repairing their valuable assets post-collision.

Joey Fasset’s Task Force, “Heavy-Duty Collision Repair Roadmap,” reviewed a document that will provide a bird’s-eye view of the navigation process before and after a collision. This document will aid fleets before and during the repair process. It starts before the accident and notes that fleets should identify key repair partners and their capabilities along commonly used routes. Following, it moves on to the moment after a collision. It lays out the need to document the scene, highlights evidence- preservation considerations, and assists in the decision making steps for: drivability or towing options and choosing a collision repairer with the knowledge, capability, equipment, and processes, that will return the vehicle back to its pre-accident state of safety.  It also includes how to review and compare estimates, while noting items that some repairers overlook. Emphasis is placed on encouraging Fleets to make sure they are asking right questions and minimizing the liability concerns of a secondary accident, which may have been caused by a previously-made improper repair.

Chris Sterwerf’s Task Force, formerly titled, “Heavy-Duty Collision Repair Guidelines,” will be changing its title to “Refinishing To Maximize Adhesion,” and will be co-chaired by Marcelino “Marcy” Fernandez of Axalta Coatings Systems. This Task Force will focus on the steps and procedures required to refinish the various substrates that HD Collision Repairers face. It may touch on non-included items like the set-up of scaffolding, conversion coatings, feather, prime and block, removal of release agents, removal of unstable coatings, subsequent masking, and much more.

Sterwerf’s Task Force is looking to continue to spin off recommendations for other Task Force’s that involve HD Collision Repair Guidelines.  In fact during the Spring meeting, a new Task Force was voted on to be launched for “Frame Correction Guidelines.”  Upon final approval from TMC Leadership, the Task Force will be chaired by TARA (Truck-Frame & Axle Repair Association) President, William Hinchcliffe. It will likely be co-chaired by a frame equipment provider representative. Items likely to be tackled by this Task Force are acceptable frame tolerances, defining conditions and terminology, identifying items that should be removed prior to corrections, and more.  Additional Task Force possibilities, which were brought up during the meeting included: pre- and post-repair diagnostic scans, fastener usage, foams and adhesives, trailer repair, suspension and steering repairs, mobile column lifts for collision repair, among others.

According to Homer Hogg, TMC Chairman of the S.16 Service Provider Study Group, it might be possible for HD Collision Repair to grow into its own Study Group if this positive momentum continues.

Chris Sterwerf, a strong voice for the heavy-duty collision repair industry has asked for help from the industry to support the development of these newest Task Forces. “We need volunteers from industry experts, equipment and service providers, and insurance companies to join in on the cause, so its success can come to fruition”  Chris believes that TMC is the voice of the customer and the fleets. “These documents will go a long way for the education of customers and fleets, and help them know what to look for to minimize their liability and speed-up the repairs to their assets. It will also reduce friction between shops and insurers, by creating documents with objective facts, thus eliminating the wide spectrum of subjective opinions and their potentially dangerous outcomes.”

To access documents that are already in place, which provide direction in collision repair, visit here. Here you also have the capability to add comments to these documents. We encourage repairers and other industry parties to do so.  For more information on how to get involved, you can fill out this form.