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Repairers are suffering from lean overload, 20 Groups are the way to go, and as for the parts industry, we may have less to worry about than we thought earlier this year. That’s what consultant John Bosin, who is chair of the Collision Industry Conference parts committee, had to say in a recent conversation with FenderBender. So how’d he come by these perspectives?
Bosin got his start in the business at DuPont Refinish Sales Center, where he became intrigued by the paint industry and soon began taking community college classes at night in auto body and painting. In 1999, he joined AkzoNobel as the company’s West Coast general manager, overseeing the business of 13 states. In 2004, he became the North American Manager of Color and OEM Relations. As part of the international color management team, he quickly realized that—in the world of paint—nothing is more important than colors that match.
Now, Bosin is certified as a Lean Six Sigma consultant. With that expertise, he established a company called LeanBosin, and has gone on to become president of EDM Davis, a consulting business in Michigan. He moderates Performance Groups for Square One Systems, the originator of 20 Groups in the collision repair industry.
Here, Bosin talks about marketing, sales, insurance, and his outlook on the parts industry. He also explains why some repairers are simply plain tired of hearing about lean and why joining a 20 Group is the most valuable thing you can do for your business.
Based on your work, what are the biggest fights repairers face?
In our current economy, with fewer claims, the two biggest challenges are getting cars to the door and then closing the sale. This first challenge—cars to the door—highlights the eternal balancing act that every shop owner juggles and weighs: What percentages of insurance, dealer and customer pay work should he seek? Whatever ratio is decided on determines the allocation of resources for each shop’s sales and marketing efforts.
With limited work available, shops must market themselves and then capture the sale. Most shops know how to repair cars and get them out in a reasonable amount of time. The second challenge—a shop’s biggest challenge—is closing the sale so they have vehicles to repair.
—John Bosin, President, EDM Davis LLC
You have said some repairers are just plain tired of hearing about lean. What’s your take on the significance of lean methodologies?
All shops need to integrate a lean approach into the way they do business—to continuously improve so that they are competitive. Their customers are demanding it. However, most profitable shops are already practicing lean, [whether they call it that or not]. It was just common sense and seeking perfection. It was simply recognizing how they could tweak a process and make it better. They have always strived to be better. We’ve been hearing about lean and Six Sigma in our industry for the last five or six years. Consequently, many shops are tired of hearing about lean, and they are especially tired of being “preached to” about lean.
You facilitate 20 Groups. How do they benefit collision repair operators?
I sincerely believe that performance groups are the most powerful improvement tool in our industry. An owner or manager can learn more from 19 other owners and managers in two days than she can from all the books, seminars and consultants in our industry.
If you come with an open mind and are willing to participate and learn from your colleagues, one or two years in a 20 Group is worth five or six years of toiling alone in your shop. And the learning and exchanging of ideas continues between the actual meetings. How great is it having 19 “consultants” you can phone, run ideas by and ask for advice?
As chair of the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) parts committee, what do you see happening within the parts industry? And how will that affect repairers?
So far this year, the parts committee’s primary focus has been on the problematic OEM situation—production shut-downs, layoffs, and bankruptcies—and the impact this situation is having on the OEMs getting collision parts to body shops. We have found from the OE perspective it has been a non issue. The OEMs have more parts to ship than ever before. Having said that, though, we do know there has been some disruption based on the viability of local dealers. Some dealers lost their franchise, some are on COD, and some have reduced their staffs and inventories. But on the whole, it has not been a big issue for collision repairers.
You have a CIC meeting scheduled during NACE. What issues or concerns are at the top of the agenda for the parts committee?
At NACE, we are looking at OE design patents on collision parts and how these patents may affect the pricing of all types of parts, as well as the availability of non-OEM aftermarket parts. At future meetings, we may also look at salvage parts: availability, pricing, time frame, et cetera. And the parts committee is always open to suggested topics from your readers.
What other issues are on the CIC agenda for that meeting?
Rick Tuuri’s insurance relations committee is doing some extraordinary work in bridging the differences between repairers and insurance companies. The committee is focused on best practices, standard operating procedures and standardization that may span all—or most—insurers and repairers. We all want this effort to succeed.
Signs are that the economy is slowly but surely rebounding. What can collision repairers do to remain profitable in the meantime?
They are all correctly watching their costs, but they must continue their marketing and sales efforts. Doing so will help them now, and pay huge dividends in the future as the economy improves. And I agree: It is improving.
How do you see the collision repair industry evolving in coming years?
The good shops will continue to improve. They will use a common sense, lean approach to eliminating waste. Insurance companies will become better collision partners because they must in order to keep their policyholders happy. Insurance companies will focus less on specific costs and more on the overall cost savings that improved cycle times bring.
If you had one piece of business advice for shop operators wanting to succeed, what would it be?
Join a 20 Group.