An enclosed and computerized paint mixing area serves two booths in a setting illuminated by "pristine lighting to enhance the optical environment" for the painters.
With 11 body bays and six refinish bays, the 21 staffers include seven body repair technicians, two painters, two paint preppers and three estimators.
Two production managers oversee an average cycle time of 5.7 days. "We use Profit Net to move the vehicles through the shop in a timely manner and up our productivity. With 40 vehicles coming through the shop in a week you can easily lose a vehicle," Mueller says.
If anything is amiss during a job, "we have a special request form that is filled out so we can take care of everything," he adds, noting the value of having just one person dedicated to procuring the components.
"I have a very talented parts man," Mueller says. "I work on all makes and models, and he'll track down the parts – he works with the jobber and the technician to get the right parts here as soon as we start the repairs, and he understands cycle time."
Ongoing cycle time improvements that speed along the repairs while emphasizing top-quality workmanship are embraced throughout the entire shop. "We have bonuses based on production and CSI (Customer Satisfaction Index scores). You have to raise your production and make sure the customer is happy," Mueller says. "Fix it right the first time and we will give you a bonus. If a technician hits 100 percent CSI, he gets a bonus."
A 50/50 bonus plan is in play that includes directing half of the extra money earned toward a tool account earmarked for equipment purchases. "We implemented this to make sure the technicians stay updated on their tools," he says. "We had a couple of old-timers who didn't want to update their tools, but now they're spending more on their tools – so it has worked out really well."
Ongoing training with in-house Gold Class I-CAR instruction, retirement benefits and covering half of an employee's health care insurance costs are some of the factors that encourage longevity among the staff. "The overall package is good," Mueller says. "Once I have somebody in here, they typically stay. I have a guy who's 62, and he's still working."
IMAGE / CURRY COLLISION CENTER
With average tenures ranging from 15 to 27 years, when a position does become open, recruitment is mostly conducted via word of mouth. Workers are typically brought on board in entry-level positions and subsequently steered up the ranks due to a paucity of qualified applicants – a situation that Mueller views as an industry-wide concern.
"You have an aging population in the body shop business; it's a dying trade, and it's difficult to get skilled technicians: That's a struggle."