John Yoswick (148)
John Yoswick is an automotive freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon, who has been writing about the collision industry since 1988. He has a body shop in the family and is the editor of the weekly CRASH Network (for a free 4-week trial subscription, visit www.CrashNetwork.com).
Shop owners struggling to remain profitable say they are increasingly focusing on the paint side of the shop, looking for innovative ways to squeeze even more productivity out of paint booths, paint products and paint personnel.
At first glance, it's hard to fathom what Eliyahu Goldratt, a 58-year-old Israel-born physicist, has to offer the collision industry. But more than 20 years after Goldratt authored (along with Jeff Cox) a "business novel" entitled "The Goal," his theory of process improvement is increasingly being discussed within many shop "20 groups" and implemented by a growing number of collision repair businesses.
For anyone in this industry who started out hustling sales - whether that means collision repair jobs, cans of paint or tools and equipment - pulling back from a focus on growth in gross sales can be a challenge. Increasing the top line, after all, is often a key ingredient in increasing the bottom line. More sales equals more profit, right?
If there was one key message at a recent gathering of auto recyclers from around the country it was that shops and insurers want an easy and reliable way to know exactly what to expect when sourcing used parts.
Hiring a new employee can be tricky business. One West Coast shop owner found that out recently when within two days he suddenly found himself down three technicians. Before he could even get a 'help wanted' ad place, a man came in looking for work.
Mark Cantrell, co-owner and general manager of McLeod Autobody in Kirkland, Washington, recommends that shop owners look for ways to save their employees just three-tenths of an hour each day.
Here's your assignment: Pretend you have 45 seconds to talk about your business in front of a group of people you'd love to have as customers. Could you tell them something that's unique about your business, something that no other shop in your area could or is likely to tell them?
Give some thoughtful people who are knowledgeable about the collision repair industry a chance to shine up a crystal ball and look into the future, and you're likely to hear some interesting things.
During the 1980s and 1990s, association and seminar leaders frequently pointed to changes in vehicle technology that were putting a dent in the collision repair market. Daytime running lights, the third brake light and anti-lock braking systems (if drivers used them properly), they'd say, were among the key factors pulling accident frequency down.
Rod Enlow joked that in mid-2005 as he became chairman of I-CAR's board of directors, it looked like it was going to be a fairly smooth and calm year for the training organization. The destructive forces of hurricanes Katrina and Rita turned out to be just one of the issues that ended up buffeting I-CAR during what Enlow now calls a challenging but successful year.
One of the ways some shops are coping with what they are finding is decreasing profits in collision repair work is adding services beyond body work: mechanical work, detailing, and spray-on bed liners.