The first time I walk into many shops these days, the phrase that comes to mind is, “It’s time to get back to basics.” Everyone is talking so much about scanning and ADAS and calibrations, but they’re overlooking some of the fundamentals.
It’s like the guy who goes into the gym and thinks, “Yeah, I’ve got to get on that cool new piece of equipment and that’s going to help my abs.” But he may be skipping the fundamentals – like diet and stretching before working out – that could render all his time unhelpful in getting him where he wants to go.
It’s like when I walk into a shops and seeing that they lack a vehicle check-in system – or they have one but aren’t using it.
Or they lack a quality control program – or they have one but aren’t using it.
Or perhaps worst of all, they’re researching the OEM repair procedures, but the technicians aren’t following them.
Here’s an example, from one of the better collision repair operations I’ve seen. After the John Eagle lawsuit, they realized that like the shop in that lawsuit, they’d attached some vehicle roofs in the past with adhesive bonding rather than welding.
So they did the right thing: They contacted every one of those customers from the past four years, and if the customer still owned the vehicle, they offered to put on a new roof. That’s a huge commitment; given this company has three shops.
But here’s the thing: I walked into one of those shops when they were putting a roof on one of those cars, a Mazda. The technician had a print-out of the Mazda procedures right there with the vehicle – yet he wasn’t following them even on this job that was a re-repair.
Here’s a shop trying to do the right thing, yet it’s still not happening. I think too often shops are investing the time and money into researching the OEM information, but are overlooking the basics to ensure they are followed.
Sometimes it’s an issue of Joe the Technician having “done this for 30 years” and doesn’t see a need to find out if he’s really been doing it right. I also see managers too busy to make sure technicians are reading the procedures, and too busy to check up on how the work is being done.
Good intentions aren’t enough. I’ve been guilty of that sort of thing, too. I call it the “Big-Ass Binder” problem. In years past, I remember 3M coming out with a manual of information on how to better manage a collision repair business. I thought that was cool, and I was going to get to reading and following that some day, but I was too busy right then, and it ended up on a shelf. Then years later a paint company came out with a shop operations manual, and I did the same thing with that binder.