Like any well-run business, it takes dedication, time and commitment from the people at the top of the organization. The lean process can often take a little additional effort because shops are undoing the traditional management learning and changing that outdated thinking into more of a process-oriented and continuous improvement philosophy. This requires considerable maintenance from the management team to keep it on track.
Q: How does the lean process differ from other processes?
A: The lean process differs from traditional managed processes on one key element: There’s a daily obsession with eliminating non-value-added, wasteful activities from getting in the way of producing greater customer value.
For example, if you have to order parts two or three times on a car because you didn’t do a complete, 100-percent damage analysis with disassembly and discover all of the damage and broken components the first time, then there are wasted activities. They are non-value-added because you were paid to buy or order parts one time and they were ordered two additional times. Wasteful activities can be found in administration, production and paint processes.
Q: How long does it typically take to implement the lean process?
A: People want to put a timeframe on lean; however, it all depends on how quickly you as a leader can build the culture around it. This includes how quickly you learn it, embrace it, understand it and then communicate it. It really varies and is about getting the team to understand that everyone’s job is to continually improve the business’s processes, so they get better and better.
Q: Why is it becoming increasingly important to get onboard with the lean process?
A: OEMs are now looking for their certified shops to have more refined processes in place, such as a front-end sales process, a scheduling process and damage analysis. Some manufacturers are starting to say you can’t get certified unless you have lean practices in place. Whether you understand lean or not, ask yourself if you are doing some of the basic elements of lean that give you a better throughput, higher quality and lower internal costs. Shops that don’t even know what lean processes are and have had no exposure to it are really going to be left behind at some point.