Got Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)? If not, there are simple and easy ways to get started towards establishing SOPs in your shop. The issue for some isn’t recognizing the value of SOPs throughout the shop, but rather looking at it as yet another task to squeeze into your day.
Two of the most significant reasons for having written SOPs are quality and cost control. We can maintain a standard of quality by doing the same steps of a repair the same way each time. And we can obviously save costs by reducing re-dos and waste and by streamlining inventory.
Maybe the best place to start working on SOPs is by not doing the work. There are enough free resources out there and valuable input to be had close by. For the actual SOPs, we can turn to the paint manufacturers and several of the major material manufacturers.
For instance, anyone who has taken the I-CAR PLA03 (Plastic and Composite Repair) course should have been provided a generic SOP with the procedural steps and space to insert the particular brand of repair materials used. (There are other resources provided with several other I-CAR classes as well.)
The local paint jobber may very likely be a great resource for getting started with SOPs. I spoke with Ron Stazzoni, who is the owner of D&R Auto Paint and Supply with three jobbing stores near Omaha, Neb. Ron and his team have built a library of SOPs written as “general guidelines” for his customers. Ron has helped dozens of shops with the creation and implementation of SOPs and has found two pitfalls.
“First, the SOP program needs to be properly introduced and built with team input. If you simply hang a bunch of posters and tell techs to follow them, you’ll get nothing but resistance. To properly build, train and implement SOPs takes a fair amount of time. It’s not going to your jobber and telling them, ‘Get SOPs going in my shop next week!’ While your local jobber may be a great help with this task, SOPs need to be a team effort; getting employees involved will help ensure buy in. There are other benefits to establishing SOPs. One favorite is team building. Bringing staff together and allowing input from every employee can help bring people closer together as a team working towards a common goal. It is important to explain what you are trying to accomplish and why,” he said.
In other words, employee review is a necessity. Input from employees with the mutual understanding of the main objectives — quality and cost control — allows all employees to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. This is a great way to encourage employee involvement and could even foster some teamwork. So by their nature, successful SOPs are unique and customized to each shop or shop group, which allows all employees to have input — and as a result, ownership — of the best procedures to use.