Going for Glass Repair Gold
While it’s ideal to keep as many services in-house as possible, it’s not always possible—or the best use of time and resources.
Since joining Tom Bush Collision Center in Jacksonville, Fla., six-and-a-half years ago, DeWayne White has moved many processes—like paintless dent repair, window tinting and wheel alignment—in-house. While moving these profit centers into the shop can help increase internal annual revenue, White has learned that his shop is not well-equipped for in-house glass repair. Instead, the collision repair center has a vendor come to the shop to do glass repair, a system that is beneficial for both parties.
White’s system seemed to be working. After his first year at Tom Bush Collision Center in Jacksonville, Fla., White increased revenue from about $240,000–$380,000 per month. However, he felt that the glass repair vendor he had been using was not the most efficient. After re-evaluating his choice, White found the perfect fit for his glass repair vendor.
Today, the 50,000-square-foot shop produces more than $500,000 in revenue per month and White manages to work with an outside glass repair vendor while juggling additional services coming from the collision repair center.
The Tom Bush Collision Center has always subletted its glass repair work, White says. He says the shop sublets its glass repair work because there has never been enough work to bring on an extra person or add to someone else’s responsibilities. And, his team has only replaced roughly 12 windshields that needed to be recalibrated, he says.
The first company that the center worked with was a smaller company that produced quality and great work, he says. But, White did see an issue in one area of the process.
During times when the shop received urgent repairs, White started to run into an issue with the glass vendor company. The company only had one truck to visit all of its clients, so it couldn’t quickly modify its route to make a stop at White’s shop or send out another glass repair technician. So, not only did White have to wait longer for the repair, but the glass repair company also risked losing one of its other body shop clients if it prioritized White’s shop.
Ultimately, White decided to switch vendors rather than bring the process in-house. He wanted a high quality of work in the repair and since glass repair is difficult, he didn’t want to send someone out to training for them to not meet the standard he expected.
The new process involved a few steps, he says, in order to ensure that when he switched vendors, other aspects of the dealership would not be impacted.
To find another glass repair vendor, White started Googling other companies in the area. Then, he sat down and formed some questions, like asking about redos for the repair and if the company ever had other issues with redoing the work, that he wanted answered before signing an agreement with the new company.
One question that White needed to know was, “How many trucks can service my facility in a day?” The new vendor said it had a total of nine trucks on the road, with three available to service his facility.
White also asked his vendor for a list of shops and vendors that the glass repair company services in the area. Once he got the list, he personally called each of the businesses and inquired into their experience with the company, both the good and the bad.
Now, the glass repair vendor visits the shop every day. In order to communicate which specific jobs need glass repair, each of the seven body technicians and one combination technician use a white board in the shop, where they write their names, the job that requires glass repair, whether the glass is in or out, the RO number and what type of glass the repair is. One way the staff now check the process and makes sure glass repair is not falling through the cracks is by having the estimators come into the shop and double check their jobs are on the dry erase board.
The process runs smoothly because White also sat down with the manager/owner of the glass repair company and provided him shop statistics on repair orders, glass repair orders and average monthly car counts from the prior three years. Then, White asked, “How many trucks do you need to service my shop? Will it be easier with one truck coming into the shop, two trucks coming into the shop or one truck coming into the shop twice per day?”
The vendor is able to offer three trucks to the shop on any given day now, which was above and beyond what he had expected the vendor to offer. And, if any issues arise that need to be addressed quickly, White can call the vendor and the vendor will find a truck out on the road that is available to come and help the shop. Since the glass repair technician comes to the shop, White is able to have the vehicle scanned and recalibrated after the vendor is done.
Since making the switch, the shop is able to handle glass repair more efficiently. The shop did add other improvements to its process at the same time as switching the glass repair vendor, so White can’t fully attribute the shift in cycle time to the change, but it was a factor. His overall cycle time dropped by .7 and went from 12.3 days to 11.6 days, he says.
He’s also adapted his processes to better manage glass repair. When problems occur—like having too many cars simply sitting in the repair shop at one time—White says that all the managers in the dealership come together and meet every Thursday.
The manager’s meeting not only came in handy with the glass repair vendor switch, he says, but it also provided a platform in which the managers can continue to use to work out any other forthcoming issues. After the glass repair process, White found it’s better to sit down with the team, and discuss any issues or questions that they want raised to the vendor before closing the deal. It’s not just the collision repair department that is affected by the decisions—every department is, he says.
White has learned that continual evaluation of the collision repair center’s services, as well as the effectiveness of its vendors, requires constant communication and quality checks.
“There’s no pointing fingers if something goes wrong,” he says. “Obviously, if we are not touching a car every day and, by that, I mean discussing a car, then we need to figure out what the problem is, and that problem is on us.”