How does all this help?
The first and most important advantage of SOPs is the control over quality. Many shop managers argue that using a flat-rate pay schema short-changes quality for speed. Those that use flat rate say it is a built-in incentive to get the job done fast and with less supervision. By adding SOPs into any repair pay plan, quality will go up. Also, by having the supplies on hand, it is less likely to have a technician skip a step. As an example, if the painter has a spray can of etch primer on hand and sees a small breakthrough in the final sanding, he or she can quickly apply it and continue with the job. If painters need to stop, mix, spray and then clean up the gun, they may be inclined to prime over the "small" spot. (Yes, the spray can of etch primer is the most expensive way to apply the primer, but its convenience and speed outweighs its cost in this case.)
The second benefit is cost. Initially, it may seem that the cost would be higher when using SOPs. However, while many specific SOPs will need to be created, which takes time, many can likewise be obtained from your paint materials supplier. They can be retrieved online from I-CAR, and now many vehicle manufacturers also supply procedures for specific tasks. By using these procedures as is or modifying them to fit your shop and its conditions, the upfront work time is lessened. Employee engagement is one of the best ways to tailor specific SOPs for your shop layout.
Let's say that you are selecting which type of clear or clears are best for your shop. By looking at your paint supplier's array of different clears, you surely will find those that best fit your shop and your production style. On I-CAR’s website, you can utilize — for free — the Uniform Procedures for Collision Repair (UPCR), a great source for your shop’s SOPs. The 3M website also has multiple SOPs for prep, blocking, detailing and more that can be a great help for you and your shop.
A third function of SOPs is that they will help form your repair team into just that: a team. Instead of a shop having multiple technicians who do things the way each thinks best, demanding individual supplies and materials, the shop will complete repairs in a standard form, and you can be assured that each repair is correct and to your standard. With all technicians working toward this common goal, they will also become more of a team.
Standard supply list
Using a standard supply list can only be accomplished when each technician does repairs in a standard way, as with SOPs. The shop can then order a set list of supplies such as sandpaper grits, paint and detail supplies. This list can be organized in a central supply area (Fig 6) where the technicians can add to it themselves. Also of importance, your jobber (Fig 7) can check this supply area on a regular basis and order in what is needed. By allocating this part of your inventory over to an "outsource" labor pool, it no longer is a cost of the repair. With carefully constructed standard supply lists and SOPs, your shop’s quality, cost control and through put are designed into each step.
SOPs and supply lists will, from time to time, need to be modified and updated, of course, like many areas of shop procedures. Once put in place, however, SOPs and a standard supply list become assets to your shop with cost, quality and reduction of cycle time.