Bob Gilbert, NA Business Improvement & Process Consultant with AkzoNobel, also contributed to this story
Some call it repair planning. Others call it blueprinting, X-ray or strategic disassembly. The goal of this activity, whatever you choose to call it, is to eliminate delays in the repair process. When additional damage is identified after repairs have begun, delays ensue – waiting for approvals and for more parts. The reduction or elimination of these delays will have the single largest impact in your attempt to decrease cycle time, which is arguably the most important KPI to both the vehicle owner and insurer. Maintaining an acceptable cycle time is a huge step, albeit one of many, on your journey to creating a sustainable business model.
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Therein lies the true challenge of repair planning – the elimination of delays once repairs have begun. It’s important to further explain two aspects of this definition. First, many will challenge that the complete “elimination” of delays is unrealistic. However, using “elimination” over “reduction” adds a sense of urgency and importance to our mission. If you prefer to use “reduction” then I would challenge you to measure your current delays and set an exact target or goal. More on that in a moment.
The second aspect that needs further clarification is the timing of these delays. I did not say the goal is to eliminate supplements. As long as some repair types require the use of estimates in the initial stages (and there are no indications these are going anywhere) then supplements will always be a necessary evil within the repair process. But only one supplement, which is the result of your repair planning process and happens before repairs begin, is necessary! Any supplements that happen after repairs have begun are a defect.
This brings us back to the “elimination vs. reduction” dilemma. The challenge with these words is that one is finite and one is open to interpretation. So do yourself a favor and clearly state the desired level of reduction by setting a SMART goal (Specific, Measureable, Ambitious, Realistic, and Time bound), such as this example - We will reduce our supplements after repair planning from 50 percent to 10 percent or less within 120 days.