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How It Works: LeanTec

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WEBSITE: COST: $10,000 for a shop setup that includes three cabinets, two scanners, and all of the bins for paint, prep and body.  The average monthly cost for software per shop is around $150 - based on the number of users the shop has in its system.  USES: Inventory management system   TRAINING:  LeanTec provides in-person training demonstrations

The Reviewer:
Jim Gottfred, manager of the Erie-LaSalle Body Shop in Chicago, is one of the third-generation leaders of the family business. Gottfred’s role includes general management of operations, so he can be found tending to all areas of the shop.


The Shop:
The business began in 1934 by Gottfred’s grandfather, and has since taken ownership by Gottfred’s father, Bob, and Gottfred’s brother, Jay. The shop has two locations: a South side shop managed by Gottfred, and a West side shop by Jay.

Gottfred’s shop is 12,000 square feet and staffs 12 employees. Gottfred heard about LeanTec from FinishMaster and was interested in how the product helped shops with material management.


How It Works:
LeanTec looks like a normal cabinet, but it’s powered by a web-based inventory management system with a locked handle connected to WiFi. Products are put into the cabinet, scanned into the system and given attributes. Once scanned in, stocking levels are set for each product to indicate how low it can get before needing reordered. Lastly, LeanTec generates refill orders for products on a day set by the shop.

The handle is unlocked by scanning a barcode created for each employee and entering a password.

Once the password is entered, the handle unlocks, and an employee can scan products out. When scanned, the product is assigned to the employee, it’s placed on a refill order list when it hits the set limit, and on a preset day, a product order is created. Information about the shop’s inventory is collected throughout.


The Review:
Gottfred was intimidated at first by the process of setting up LeanTec because all materials need to be entered into the management software program. When entered, the maximum and minimum levels of each product is shown, as well as the product’s price.

“There was some time and effort needed to get it set up, but you get what you put in,” Gottfred says.

After the product was ordered, a LeanTec representative came by to demonstrate.

“There weren’t a lot of other shops using it, but I knew if the system worked mechanically and stayed connected to WiFi, I was going to make it work in my shop,” Gottfred says. “When you get the whole team on board using it and when they started seeing the benefits, it made things easier for the shop.”

Since utilizing the product, the shop has erased the strain of potentially running out of a certain product.

“Having all materials automatically ordered via email at consistently on a weekly basis, [as well as] detailed material invoices for each job, and a database that gives me an infinite amount of reporting was something I’ve always wanted,” Gottfred says.

The system also produces an outline of how the product is handled in the shop and who is checking it out.

“With LeanTec, I’m able to know exactly what’s used on each job, which, to me, has more value and accuracy,” Gottfred says. “It gives me reporting on each employee, I know what my material inventory is at all times, [and] how much cost I have in the shop.”

The ROI:
Gottfred’s shop returned 25–30 percent of toners and other repair materials because LeanTec revealed that some were not being used often. Along with riding extra products, Gottfred’s shop has brought in additional income through the creation of invoices.

“We have adjusted our material pricing [and] we supply a detailed invoice for the materials [used on each repair],” Gottfred says. “We’ve been paid as much as $300 extra on a job because we now have a system that reports the information to us.”

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