Monday, 27 October 2014 17:00

Lean Implementation Strategies

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One of the biggest complaints I hear from shops is that it is so hard to get people to change their habits and conform to a new way of doing things.

Unfortunately, failing to implement a permanent change initiative has become the norm at most collision repair shops these days. Some of this resistance we bring on ourselves by what I like to call the “Flavor of the Month.” I am sure most of you can relate to this scenario when the boss returns from NACE or some great seminar and all of a sudden he wants to fix everything overnight! These changes rarely take permanent hold in the organization and the more changes management tries to implement, the bigger the joke it becomes to the staff. Sad, but so true!

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There are many reasons that people are resistant to change, but I am surprised at how often it is the owner or manager himself that is the real problem! The art of communicating and understanding what make your people tick are of utmost importance these days. The old “iron-fisted” management style of yester-year rarely works these days.

How are you going to get your staff to buy-into change initiatives and consistently perform the vital steps required with new processes such as Blueprinting, and other lean concepts? Many great books have been written on the subject of change, and I recommend you read them and learn as much as you can to better understand the behaviors and intrinsic values of you and your team. In addition to you doing some studies of your own, I hope you will find these 3 tips helpful to your change efforts.

One of the biggest reasons people don’t follow the steps is because the steps are too hard to perform. Call them lazy, call them whatever you want, but the reality of it is that if you give someone a task that is critical to success and the task is too difficult, it is human nature that it likely won’t get done consistently if at all. Let me give you an example. Let’s say that at your body shop, you have discovered that checking the replacement parts for correctness (mirror matching) is CRITICAL to your success. So if you remove the old parts from the car and throw them into a big messy pile in the corner, do you really think the parts guy is going to dig through that heap to find the parts he needs to mirror match vs. the new replacements? Probably not going to happen, right? You must make critical to success tasks as easy as you possibly can if you want them to get done. Convenience also means keeping tools, information, and anything else that would be needed to perform a critical task close and easily accessible. Things not getting done are often not a work ethic problem as much as it is a spatial or procedural problem.

If you were trying to shed a few pounds and decided that you need to quit eating donuts, do you think it would be better to have the box of donuts that your rental car provider just gifted sitting on your desk, or would it be better to place the delicious box of devilish delight as far away as possible? My point is to set up your shop space to help drive the vital behaviors to succeed. A classic example of this is when it comes to Blueprinting. One of the vital behaviors of Blueprinting, in my opinion, is to have your estimating computer out with you at the damaged car. Can this happen at your shop, or are your estimators still writing everything down on a piece of paper and then walking this back to their office to enter a questionably accurate supplement into the estimating system? If this isn’t bad enough, I still see many shops that let the technician write the supplement on a piece of paper and then put it on the estimator’s desk to key in. What kind of behavior does this spatial arrangement encourage? Think about it!

Make it Unavoidable
Make it difficult for people to do the wrong thing. Can you think of any tasks critical or otherwise that are being successfully performed at your shop consistently? What is different about those tasks that you can learn from and apply to your new initiatives and critical tasks? The act of moving a vehicle into the technician’s stall makes it pretty unavoidable that it will get seen and worked on by the technician. Making a task unavoidable is quite often a visual thing, and something that has to get done before it can go to the next step. Consider the use of visual quality control in between departments to eliminate defects, and make it hard to screw up!


Recommended Reading

o    Leading Change – Kotter
o    Influencer – Patterson, Grenny, Maxfield, McMillan, Switzer

Make critical tasks convenient
o    Tasks that specifically lead to your company’s success like Blueprint steps, parts mirror matching, customer communication, etc. must be made to be EASY!

Setup office and shop spaces to influence vital behaviors
o    Is communication a problem? Consider how your office is set up.
o    How far do people have to walk to get parts, information, etc?

Make critical tasks unavoidable
o    Think visual
o    Make it hard for people to screw up!