The Need to Improve Cycle Time
When it comes to car repairs, customers want their vehicles fixed and ready to hit the road again at the soonest possible time. This is why properly managing and improving cycle time (or the time it takes to repair a car fully) should be a top priority in auto body shops — apart from ensuring high-quality repair, of course. However, numerous factors can the repair of a customer’s vehicle to be delayed beyond the estimated repair time your auto body shop quoted to the customer when they first brought it in.
The Impact of Delays
Delays are normal and quite common in the auto body repair industry, and yet it can have a huge negative impact on your business. The longer it takes to repair the vehicle, the lower the customer satisfaction (even if you try to explain the valid reasons behind the delay). Feedback and online reviews can make or break a business, and if your shop consistently incurs delays and can’t meet its own estimated repair time, you’ll be losing potential customers in the future. Not only that, but delays can cause a domino effect, so a delay in one project can potentially cause delays in other scheduled projects as well.
That said, we’ll be taking a look at different ways you can improve your cycle time and prevent delays to increase customer satisfaction, and ultimately improve your shop’s attractiveness to other potential clients.
#1 Provide Realistic Estimates
If we’re going to be technical about it, you won’t be able to incur delays as long as you meet your estimated time of completion for the repair. As such, one of the best ways to avoid delays and meet customer expectations is by providing them with a realistic timeline as to how long it would take to repair their vehicle fully. This can be done by being thorough with the inspection, and if any additional issues are found, it’s important to immediately communicate them to the customer to inform them of any additional costs and of the new timeline.
Additionally, your estimates should take into consideration all internal and external factors, including (but not limited to) current resources and manpower, availability of suppliers for spare parts, delivery time from suppliers, and any existing/ongoing repair projects.
#2 Improve Spare Parts Supplier Handling
Waiting for spare parts to arrive is arguably the main cause of delays when it comes to auto body shop repair (and customization) projects. You need to identify all the issues with the vehicle and all the spare parts required so you can order them as soon as possible.
#3 Fabrication Backups
A lot of auto body shops fabricate the parts needed for the repairs and customization; this can help save money and time, and allows you to offer more customization options for your clients. However, you should also have a contingency plan in place in case your equipment unexpectedly breaks down or if your auto body shop is already over-capacity. That said, you could look up machine shops in Trinidad and Tobago where you can outsource the fabrication of parts whenever needed to ensure that you meet your repair deadline.
#4 Up-to-date Tools and Training
To improve quality, efficiency, and cycle time, you’ll want to train your mechanics on new techniques and technology regularly, and also upgrade your facilities and tools. You should also consider implementing a project and workflow management software to streamline better and monitor each and every project in your auto body shop.
Being prepared and making use of the latest techniques and technology can go a long way in preventing delays and improving cycle time. However, if delays are incurred despite your best efforts, you should still prioritize results and never compromise on the quality of your output just to meet the deadline.