A Modern Approach to Quality Control
There is one absolute necessity when it comes to running a successful collision repair business; one baseline, bare-minimum item that every single customer will expect on every single job. Without it, all other aspects of your business—your processes, your systems, your service, your team, etc.—will be for naught.
What is it? A quality repair.
Last month, I wrote about the importance of customer service index (CSI) scores and the impact they can have on your business. Well, what affects CSI more than the quality of the repair? No matter how good of service you have, if that customer hops back into the car and something is off, that CSI score is going down, right? And that’s a best-case scenario, as the ramifications of poor work can be far more catastrophic than a bad survey result.
Now, there’s a lot that goes into performing a quality repair. You must have the proper training, the correct equipment, great people on your team, up-to-date repair information, etc., etc. You also must have—and I can’t stress this enough—a thorough and repeatable quality control (QC) process that is carried out on every single job.
This concept, really, isn’t anything new. We’ve all heard about QC-ing a vehicle, right? Still, let me repeat this, my friends: A precise, detailed QC process is imperative to returning properly repaired—and safe—vehicles to customers. That’s been the case since I had my shop. We’d QC every vehicle that came through. We’d check the work that was performed. Then it was high beams, low beams, left turn signal, right turn signal, squirt the washer nozzles, roll the windows up and down, etc., etc. It was a run-through at the end of the repair; simple, easy, but still thorough.
That’s the way it was always done.
That’s also nowhere near enough for today’s modern vehicles.
You don’t need me to tell you about the overall advancement in vehicle design. You’ve heard about it already. You’ve heard about it in my talks. You’ve read about it in this magazine. You’ve seen it in your own shops. Vehicles have advanced, and so too have the methods of fixing them. So, with the complexity of modern vehicles, why would we stick with the simplicity of an outdated quality control method? It doesn’t make sense, right? And, not only that, it’s unsafe for the consumer and has the potential to put them—and your business—at risk.
What I want to get to in this column is diagnostic scanning (both pre- and post-repair scanning), but let’s not skip over some critical aspects of QC-ing a vehicle first. All those traditional pieces of a QC process? Yes, we still need those—every single time. The most successful shops that I go into, the ones that put out the best work time and time again, have intricate QC processes that involve checking the vehicle at every stage of the repair. A vehicle doesn’t move to the next stage of the process without someone tangibly signing off on an itemize QC checklist (whether it’s on paper or digital) to ensure that every aspect of the repair was completed properly. This not only ensures quality in the end. It also drastically limits the amount of rework that kills efficiency.
Incrementally QC-ing the vehicle as it goes through is crucial, and so too is checking all work performed at the completion of the repair. Then comes your high beams, low beams, etc. Walk through each feature that you can physically check.
What I just described is a great, albeit traditional, QC process. It’s thorough, detailed, and to the naked eye ensures that everything about the repair was performed at the highest level.
But, we’ve all heard the stories by now, right? Just last month in this magazine, my fellow columnist Darrell Amberson wrote about a frightening experience a technician of his had when an accident avoidance system wasn’t properly functioning on a test drive following a completed repair. This was a vehicle that had no dash lights, and already passed through a traditional QC process. Yet, the vehicle incorrectly adjusted the steering wheel offline when another car passed on the left. Scary, right? My friends, imagine if that had been your customer driving—or your own family member.
There are dozens more examples I could give you. There was a vehicle at a shop in Connecticut I was in that had its adaptive cruise control go haywire because an incorrect hood emblem was placed on it. Whether it’s a safety item like a collision avoidance system, self-parking sensor, or backup camera, or it’s a comfort feature like keyless entry, bluetooth connection or something like the “airscarf” system in a Mercedes-Benz, none of these can be QC-ed in a traditional sense.
Scanning the vehicle is the only solution. I was excited to see Darrell’s column last month, and I’ve been pleased with the recent coverage of the topic, particularly in this magazine. And that’s why I wanted to take it a step further: Scanning is no longer an additional element of the repair process; it is an absolutely critical aspect of QC-ing a vehicle.
All vehicles must be scanned in the estimating/blueprinting stage, and all vehicles must be scanned in the final QC-ing of the vehicle. It is imperative. It is essential. It is your new bare-minimum, baseline item, my friends. These are modern customers with modern vehicles, and we need to ensure a modern level of quality.