Collision repairers often don’t recognize the tremendous value of incorporating well-defined processes into their body shops, according to Steve Feltovich, president of SJF Business Consulting LLC.
Feltovich said that since beginning to apply lean production principles to the collision repair environment in the early 2000s, he has seen committed shops realize a multitude of benefits for their businesses.
“The lean process is designed to increase sales and profitability, improve ROI and decrease cycle time,” said Feltovich, who works with dealers, independent collision repairers and MSOs to make business improvements and achieve performance goals. “It can also help a shop deliver a higher-quality product in a lot less time at a lower internal cost with less stress on the entire staff.”
Autobody News recently reached out to Feltovich to learn more about the lean process and why he encourages shop owners and managers to take the steps necessary to implement it into their businesses.
Q: How would you define the lean process?
A: Lean is a very methodical, reliable and holistic approach to business improvement. It puts customer value at the forefront, so everyone wins---the customer, the insurance company, the organization and the supplier. What I’ve taught shops for many years is to look at lean as customer first. Although the insurance company transfers policyholder dollars to the shop, at the end of the day, everyone is ultimately paid by the customer.
There are five principal elements that make lean work: the elimination of waste; teamwork; the efficient use of resources; continuous improvement; and effective communication.
Q: Why do we need a better business model, such as lean?
A: The reason we need a better business model is that cars have changed; they are not manufactured the same, they don't function the same and as a result, they can’t be repaired the same. Today’s customers have also changed. They are more educated, more empowered and more knowledgeable. Whether we call it “Lean,” “Six Sigma” or the “Toyota Production System,” it’s just a label. The bottom line is we need an absolute business transformation bringing in a better business model.