Collision Repair Design Services for MSOs

February 2015

By Judy Folk, Manager of Business Consulting Services

Shop design should provide the most efficient layout and work flow to endure efficient, high-quality repairs.

Facility layout and design is an important component of any business’ overall operations, both in terms of maximizing the effectiveness of the production process and meeting the needs of employees. The layout and design of that space greatly impacts how work is done—the flow of work, materials and information through the system. 

MSOs (Multiple Shop Operators) have the additional challenge of integrating different cultures at different locations and operating structures.  Collision Repair Design Service can assist in identifying a common process, Standard Operating Procedures and documenting as training tools.  Opportunities are there for every facility to improve and duplicate the identical process, even with multiple locations, so every customer gets the same experience.  With Standard Operating Procedures you can improve a process and make a systemic change across your network of shops, improve the performance of your employees and your operations.

Collision repair facilities typically have manpower, material and equipment operating in a layout with long distances of walking, material movement and back-and-forth actions. Personnel seldom communicate well and tend to work in their own silos. These activities result in waste, adding significant cost to the operation. Collision Repair Design Service (CRDS) offers solutions that address the source of waste by physically changing the manner in which people interact with material, equipment, information, and each other.

The key purpose of the lean design effort is to ensure that the resources or flow come together in the right place, in the right quantity and at the right time. People, workstations, parts bins and equipment should be arranged to optimize flow, minimize waste and boost productivity.

Judy Folk

Manager of Business Consulting Services

The philosophy is to develop lean principles, eliminate waste and improve production flow and quality.  A lean production facility is designed directly from standard operating procedures of your facility rather than taking the constraints of a building to work around. The key purpose of the lean design effort is to ensure that the resources or flow come together in the right place, in the right quantity and at the right time. People, workstations, parts bins and equipment should be arranged to optimize flow, minimize waste and boost productivity. Here are a few factors to consider when designing the layout of a facility so that you achieve maximum effectiveness:

  1. Does the design and layout allow for growth or change? Is there a chance that your facility will experience significant growth? Could some other change (such as aluminum repair) come about that will influence the layout of your facility?  Making changes is costly and undertaking them shouldn’t be taken lightly. Your layout should be flexible enough to allow a redesign if the situation calls for it.
  2. Is the process flow smooth? If you are running a collision facility, the flow should be such that the vehicles enter at one end and the finished product exits at the other. The flow doesn’t necessarily have to form a straight line, but there should be no backtracking. Backtracking creates confusion with employees (“Has that been done yet?”), parts get lost, accountability suffers and overall coordination is very difficult. You need to maintain a consistent process to be efficient.
  3. Are materials being handled efficiently? Reducing and monitoring material inventory can have a huge financial impact on your company. Are parts being ordered, delivered, verified and installed on a just-in-time basis? There may be an opportunity to streamline your current inventory. Here, simplicity is best.
  4. Does the facility layout contribute to meeting production needs? Is there enough space and is it used efficiently? Have you allowed enough space for receiving vehicles and parts? Can different areas of the business communicate effectively? Does the layout lend itself to all procedures within the process? A ‘no’ answer to any one of these questions means your present – or planned – space will not be 100% effective.
  5. Does the layout contribute to employee satisfaction and morale? Several studies have linked employee morale to productivity. Managers should take this point into consideration when designing the layout of their facilities. Suggestions include painting the walls in light colors, adding windows, providing sufficient space to perform tasks, and perhaps including a lunch and/or meeting room(s). Some of the options may be fairly easy and if they increase productivity in the long run, then it’s definitely worth making the investment.   

The layout of your office area is an important, often overlooked, factor that affects the way your employees perform their jobs. Offices accept and produce information. This can be physical, electronic or verbal cue, but the final result is still information. Office layouts may be different than a facility layout, but the goal should be to minimize communication errors and maximize productivity. Before you begin an office redesign, think about the types of tasks employees perform in the space. A good office design is not only functional, but provides comfortable work areas for your staff.

The main goals of facility layout and design are to maximize flow (lean principles) and contain cost (financial principles). The goal is to understand and meet the evolving workplace needs of collision repair owners in order to leverage physical space into an asset – rather than an expense. Lean facility design techniques have become critical tools to manage quality collision repair, and at the same time contain, or even minimize, costs associated with high levels of undetected defects and slow production. 

An MSO is able to provide incremental services to the insurance carriers, including nationwide warranties, faster cycle times, accelerated I-CAR certifications, standard operating procedures for repeatable outcomes, load leveling, call centers to streamline customer interaction and drive closing ratios, management of KPIs and advanced reporting.  MSOs over multiple geographies deliver the consistency that insurance carriers are demanding.  CRDS can reinforce this and potentially have one of the strongest impacts on the future of your business.



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