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Do not start a new bodyshop without thorough consideration of these aspects.

Recently I have been involved in the planning session for a brand new bodyshop for servicing municipal bus fleet of one of the capital cities in Europe. While this process is not something new or unique to me, I had an opportunity to get into customer’s thinking and logic. And, I assure you that there is no better way to understand your customer, than to be in his shoes for a while. During the numerous round table meetings, I realized that there are certain key aspects one must consider while planning a new shop. Failing to make the right decisions on those aspects will make the future of the workshop seriously difficult. Below I will analyze how to make vitally important decisions on a bodyshop space and layout, key equipment and paint supply. Additionally you will find some useful links curated especially for you on this subject.

Space and bodyshop layout

Working space is probably the most expensive and vastly important asset of any business, and collision repair businesses are not an exemption. Here we need to distinguish two possibilities. First possibility is when you are already given a certain building to fit your new shop in. Second possibility allows you to build the new shop from scratch. In the first case, a deep analysis of the given space must be considered. For example, in the project I referred above, the initially proposed building was quickly dismissed, because number of restraints for a spray booth and prep area location. Second possibility is only limited by the budget, and it is a much easier option for any organization.

Advice 1

Never underestimate the importance of space in a bodyshop planning. For example in Greece, more than 50% of the bodyshops lack the vital space for easy moving the vehicles around the shop. As a result, body and paint shops become bottlenecks, causing delays in vehicles deliveries, while decreasing overall profitability. Remember that it is much easier and cheaper to lay out the shop correctly form the beginning rather than make adjustments later on. Additionally, allocate space for spare parts storage, paint mixing room, dressing rooms and a place for employees break.

Additional reading link:

http://etalon.gr/blog/2013/08/08/4-ways-to-speed-up-your-body-shop-productivity-1/

Equipment

Every new bodyshop requires a great number of equipment and tools for its operations. I don’t want to talk about everything, but three main ones: a spraybooth, a bench and a compressor.

Spraybooth

Probably when you imagine a car painting shop, the first image coming to your mind would be a spraybooth. It is probably the most expensive piece of equipment in the paint shop, so, needless to say, it is of a paramount importance to avoid any mistakes here.

Advice 2

Nowadays one can find a great deal of spraybooths for any budget and special requests. From many years of experience, I can assure you that the most important factor for choosing one booth over another should be a supplier, not the technical characteristics. Invest your money having in mind the proximity of the supplier, his experience, technical stuff and spare parts availability. Trust me, you don’t want a supplier of a spraybooth, who can not fix any problem within 24 hours. Ask your colleagues who have different brands of spraybooths installed. Are they happy with it? Are they satisfied with the after sales service?

Additional reading links:

https://www.dtc-uk.com/spray-booths/choosing-the-right-spray-booth/

https://www.pfonline.com/articles/7-steps-to-make-buying-a-paint-booth-easier

https://www.autobodytoolmart.com/paint-booth-size-guide-t.aspx

Bench

If your workshop will perform also the complicated panel beating works then you must decide on the purchase of a bench. Straightening benches are also expensive and require good market research.

Advice 3

Make sure that you understand the insurance companies’ policies on severely damaged vehicles. In many countries, insurers prefer to scrap a vehicle with serious structural damage rather than fix it. Once you know what will be the majority of insurance jobs, you will be able to choose the right equipment without overpaying for the unnecessary options.

Additional reading link:

https://www.bodyshopbusiness.com/frame-rack-or-bench-which-is-right-for-your-shop/

Compressor

It is difficult to overestimate the importance of the air supply in any bodyshop. Spray guns and airtools are all essential to the efficiency in any collision repair shop. Before deciding what capacity of the air supply your shop should have, you must study carefully the technical characteristics of the spray guns and pneumatic tools to be used. Place, where the compressor will be, piston or rotary technology, length of the air supply network and potential air losses – all these crucial parameters must be carefully calculated.

Advice 4

Allocate adequate funds for the compressor to cater for all the needs and exceeding the estimated air supply capacity for this workshop at least by 15-20%. Compressor is not a piece of equipment to save money on. Consider a secondary backup compressor in case of the breakdown of the primary compressor. Choose a supplier who has the experience with paint shop needs. Keep in mind that air purity, absence of water and oil in the air system are important in the bodyshops like in no other workshop.

Additional reading links:

https://www.bodyshopbusiness.com/buying-tips-air-compressors/

https://www.bodyshopbusiness.com/air-compressors-what-to-consider-when-buying/

https://www.thecompressedairblog.com/compressed-air-application-automotive-paint-body-shop

Paint and consumables supply

Likewise, choosing the paint and consumables supplier is not an easy task. Probably the two most common mistakes I see in the market are choosing a potential supplier based on price or on “freebies”. Both decisions patterns may seriously affect negatively the future of the business.

Advice 5

Do not choose your paint supplier based on the price alone. First, the price and the cost are not the same things. Cheap may be very costly when it comes to the productivity. Initial “sweetness” of low price will fade out quickly when quality issues appear or/and due to the bad service a “cheap” supplier provides.

Another common trap is when a potential paint supplier offers expensive “gifts” in order to get your business. “Free” spray guns, tools or even a spraybooth, are actually always included in the future bills. The cost of those “freebies” is disguised, but you will always pay them back with a high interest rate. No suppliers, especially multinational paint companies, are charitable organizations.

Additional reading link:

http://etalon.gr/blog/2017/08/27/buying-bodyshops-business-paint-companies-sustainable/

Sum up

If you are in the process of the new bodyshop set up, please do not rush your decisions. A great number of businesses are doomed to failure before even opening their doors. You might be tempted to speed up the whole process to start working as soon as possible. However, a few weeks delay, spent on the meticulous preparations and research, will save you tones of money and put the solid bases for the future success.

 

Collision repair management 101: Part 4 – Invest smart.

In this post, I will try to address a very important issue for every bodyshop, regardless of its size or location – the issue of investment. In “Collision repair management 101” series I have stressed my vision that any collision repair workshop must follow general rules of business management. It is a big mistake to think that spraying cars is kind of special and unique trade, which has nothing in common with the rest of the business world. As it was discussed in the previous posts, whether we talk about fixed or variable costs and cash flow, a bodyshop manager should apply the same methods of management as bank or travel agency. This is why, when it comes to growth of a given bodyshop, its owner will come up with a question when to invest hard earned bucks into equipment, relocation or human resources, and, most importantly, why to invest.

Types of investments in a collision repair shop.

The first thing that might come up to your mind when thinking about investment in a collision repair industry would be a new spray booth or other equipment. While investing in equipment and tools is definitely a significant issue, it is not the only area where your money can be invested. For example, moving to a new or bigger location or the renovation of the existing place, is, no doubts, a wise investment. Another very important aspect I would like to refer is training of personnel. With new car body materials, VOC regulations, innovative materials and tools, training of your staff can hardly be overestimated.

return-on-investment

Return on investment

Perhaps many of you associate return on investment (ROI) as a term for stocks or bonds market. However, in plain English, return on investment is a number, which in measurable way shows us what will be the benefit per each dollar spent on it. Let me bring you some examples.

Imagine a medium-size bodyshop with one painter and two prep guys. The shop is very busy and the owner estimates that he loses about 25% of extra revenue due to the limited capacity. Therefore, he is considering investing in a second spray booth. Sounds logical up to now. Now let’s consider the costs of the investment as total. The cost of a spray booth with installation is 35.000 Euro (or USD), then at least one painter and one prep person must be hired with a total yearly cost of about 40.000 Euro. Now the bodyshop’s turnover is 500.000 Euro and expected additional business due to higher capacity is expected to be 125.000 Euro annually. With an average operating profit of 35%, the investment will bring about 43.750 Euro net profit.  It may look attractive in the beginning, if we do not consider additional salary costs. Yet, if we take into consideration that every year the additional business of 125.000 Euro will need also 40.000 Euro salary expenses, the pay off period for the investment will be about 7 years. It is crucial to calculate all the related costs. Is the period of 7 years good enough? Can we increase the turnover with other means (infrared lamps, for example)? Is our prediction of increase in turnover by 25% well justified?

Let me bring to your attention another investment example, of a much smaller case. For example, a painter in bodyshop X wants to buy a new model of premium quality spray gun for basecoat application. He expects that the new spray gun will save about on average 15% of a material sprayed. The cost for this spray gun is 450 Euro. On average, the painter is spraying 2 liters of paint every day with the cost on 1L about 45 Euro. The new spray gun will save to the painter 13.5 Euro from the cost of the paint each day (2L x 45 Euro x 15%), therefore in a month of 23 working days the bodyshop will save 310.5 Euro, meaning that in about 45 days the cost of the purchase will fully covered by the savings in paint. Not bad at all, taking into account that the new spray gun will also improve colour matching and overall quality of spraying. From my experience, investing in the new spraying equipment usually has the highest and quickest return on investment in any bodyshop.

I hope that it is vital for car body repair professionals to invest their time for budgeting, planning and management tasks. Office work is as important as repairing cars. Benjamin Franklin once said: “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” I couldn’t agree more.

 

 

 

4 Ways to Speed Up Your Body Shop Productivity

Productivity watch

We all keep
saying “Time is Money”, but very few of us really do something to really
increase the body shop’s delivery times. Even if you understand that your
repair process is not smooth or effective, you hardly know where to begin from,
what to change? Nevertheless, by doing adopting 4 steps program below, you will
significantly decrease your car delivery time up to 50%!

                                                                                           
Productivity bust

1.      
1.
Improve
your body shop layout. Actually this one is the most difficult. You may say
that your working space is limited and hard to change, but from our experience
there is always space for improvement and optimizing already existing places.


Layout
    

         
Break
down your space on different working areas. The biggest mistake is to do all
jobs everywhere. Additional time will be needed for moving tools and equipment
around the place. Usually the main areas are: 
panel area,
where damaged parts are taken off, prep area, where body
filler is applied, sanded and afterwards the surface is cleaned with tack rag
and degreased; painting area or spray booth, where primer, basecoat and
clearcoat are applied; finish or polishing area, where final inspection and
defects removal take place; and finally washing (valeting) area, where the
vehicle is washed, ideally before and after the repairing process.

         
Minimize
the time of moving the cars between working areas by relocating each working
place according to logical sequence of jobs execution

                                          
Shop layout

         
Follow
the link for Spieshecker brochure “Successfully designing a new bodyshop” for
more tips or just admire this video from Spanesi designed body shop. 

 Us   2. Use
fast drying spraying materials in combination with Infrared lamps. Paint
materials for collision repair have advanced for the last decade. You can find
a very fast drying fillers, basecoats or clears almost in all major car
refinishing brands.
In addition, infrared technology made
our lives even easier. We can speed up drying times for small area repairs
without even getting into spray booth. It is amazing how underused this type of
equipment is in many body works facilities!

3.     3.  
Keep
it clean! I will never stop saying that having your place clean is crucial for
your image and work quality. And when I mean “clean”, I refer for 4 Cs concept.

         
Clean
shop

         
Clean
car (surface to be painted)

         
Clean
air in compressed air system

         
Clean
you (I mean gloves and overalls will keep your dust out)

                                        
Clean body shop

4.     4. 
Don’t
cut the corners during the preparation work. It is known fact that 90% of all
time you spend on car painting job is actually preparation of the vehicle for
painting. Skipping steps and avoiding proper procedures will only cause lengthy
and costly re-work. So, follow your suppliers’ technical instructions to be
fast and efficient.  

            
2 hours delivery

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