Thursday, 24 May 2012 08:55

Glendale-Foothill CAA Chapter Focuses on BAR Compliance

The May chapter meeting of the Glendale-Foothill California Autobody Association was held at the Brookside Country Club, 1133 Rosemont Ave. Pasadena, CA. An unusually large crowd turned out to hear Qasi Asad, Verifacts Automotive Compliance Director, speak on current BAR (Board of Auto Repair) policies, procedures and compliance. Qasi started out reminding the group of the BAR’s sting operation in Orange County a while back that closed several shops and arrested the estimators for false and fraudulent estimates. Qasi noted that most of those estimators will not be able to get a job estimating again.

His talk emphasized the importance of knowing the small details of BAR compliance. Simply washing a customer’s car requires customer authorization on a work order, even if there is no charge for the service. Frequent violations of BAR policy on documentation include missing information, such as date, signature, mileage, dollar amount and who authorized the repair. Vehicles coming from a dealership must still have vehicle owner authorization on the work order. Even e-mail authorizations must have a copy of the e-mail with date and exact name of authorizing person attached to the work order. Qasi asked, “Can your shop pass a BAR Audit?”

Qasi stressed the importance of having estimators and key employees attend a three-hour BAR Clinic to ensure 100% compliance at the shop. Verifacts will provide a free examination of a shop’s open, closed, DRP, cash and work in progress files to determine the current degree of compliance. A monthly service for several months will accustom the employees to the audit procedure. After that, most will be able to continue without the monthly service. Qasi noted that John Wallauch, the new BAR chief, may change the rules of the game and organize more sting operations. He advised the group to be ready for new challenges.

The remainder of the meeting focused on a five-member panel of local industry veterans moderated by Gene Lopez, Western Region I-Car Director. Gene quizzed each member of the panel on ways they brought about greater efficiencies and profits for their businesses. Mark D’Angelo, from D’Angelos Paints, was the only non-shop owner on the panel, but he was able to bring an overview of many shops to the discussion while the others could mainly speak from the viewpoint of their own shop or shops.

Dan Schimpke, from Beverly Coachcraft in West Los Angeles, set the tone of the discussion by telling about a $100 experiment at his shop. A $100 bonus was awarded each month to the employee with the cleanest workstation. He said the results were amazing. Techs were mopping up their work bays. The shop had never looked cleaner, and for a mere $100. Next, he’s trying a bonus plan that offers $150 each month and $250 each month for ideas on how to run the business better.

Lillian Maimone, from Marco’s Collision Centers, continued the theme of employee “buy-in” to a shop’s vision. She said they have regular meetings to keep employees informed of their part in the big picture. They’re made aware of the numbers and how their job affects the numbers. Marcos also provides continuous training and education for employees, and many have moved up the ladder within the company. Lillian said it’s one thing to tell an employee what needs to be done and another to have the employee actually recognize the value and importance of doing it.

Curt Nixon, from L’Monty Auto Body/Fix Auto, said they also focus totally on employee “ownership” by meeting twice a day and having lean process training every twelve weeks. They set goals and project sales and post results so everyone can see where they’re at. Like Dan and Lillian, he said this definitely improves efficiency and profits. He said they also work to educate vendors on what the shop actually needs and this too results in cost-savings and greater efficiencies.

Danny Panduro from J&L Body Shop in Sun Valley agreed completely. He said he has always recognized the importance of being a team player— especially from when he played rugby while in college. He said for the past few years, they have been gradually implementing lean processes, most recently with the help of consultant Mike Anderson. He said the results in faster turn-around time with an actual increase in quality, were surprising and inspiring. But he said the challenge is sustaining the culture of change and improvement. People tend to settle back into comfortable patterns.

Overall, the panel agreed that employee buy-in to the cultural change required for lean processes is the key to sustaining success in achieving efficiencies and increased profitability. Where they have succeeded came from instilling an “ownership” attitude and educating employees and vendors on exactly what is needed.