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The Millennial Shop Owner’s Vision for Collision Repair

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The Millennial Shop Owner’s Vision for Collision Repair
Millennial shop owners detail the progressive strategies that will separate them from the pack in the new year.

SHOP STATS: BOYCE BODY WERKS Location: Two locations in Illinois Employees: 47 Average Monthly Car Count: 245 Annual Revenue: $7.4 million

Always Adapting

by Travis Bean, Melissa Steinken


Kyle Boyce is only one year younger than the shop his family started in 1985.

While he was certainly “born into the industry,” transitioning into a leadership role at Boyce Body Werks has been anything but familiar or intrinsic—if anything, it’s been an intimidating, frustrating, long process.

But not because Boyce wasn’t ready for the collision repair industry—because the industry wasn’t ready for him.

While his parents are still technically majority owners of the two Boyce Body Werks locations in Naperville and Batavia, Ill., Boyce manages all day-to-day operations at this point, and has taken advantage of the complete freedom granted in reshaping processes and management. From an old-school set-up to a new-school revamp, little about Boyce’s $7.4 million shops remains the same month to month—and Boyce Body Werks is thriving because of his team’s ability to constantly adapt.


Learn the Rules, Break the Rules

Boyce worked in his family business as a painter for around five years, transitioned into estimating, and then transitioned into accounting—the list goes on. Coming home after school and working for a few hours at the shop became normal, and no department was out of Boyce’s wheelhouse.

Getting a feel for Boyce Body Werks on that multi-layered level, as you can imagine, prepared Boyce for a fairly seamless transition into leadership, as he understood both the shop processes and the players on his team.

And that familiarity also played a huge hand in Boyce’s vision to pivot the shop in a new direction. After spending a year on the road, visiting shops and attending an Axalta Business Council with Mike Anderson, Boyce had not only adopted a copious amount of ideas for fine-tuning operations at his home shop, but dreamt up new ideas that gave traditional processes his own personal touch—learning the rules before he broke them, if you will.

Focused on the small details, Boyce retained his father’s (Ken Boyce) customer-focused principles while shifting those old-school ways to technology-driven processes, and adapted his leadership over time to cultivate a stronger team culture that embraced his forward-thinking agenda. When those two elements are working together, Boyce says his team of 47 employees can handle any issue it encounters and can adapt to any process.


"At the end of the day, when they realize they’re making more money than last year with less hours, that’s a motivating factor"

-Kyle Boyce, manager, Boyce Body Werks


The Gameplan

This past November, when Boyce walked back into his office after an Axalta Business Council meeting, he had a piece of paper with three notes scribbled on it:

  1. Wrap up all loose ends with OEM certifications.
  2. Attend more leadership training.
  3. Revamp administrative bonus plans.

This itemized list is the highlight from what was 10 pages of notes taken at Boyce’s latest regularly scheduled Axalta meeting, which help him stay on top of current trends practiced by industry leaders.

“The most successful shops in the county are having the same issues I’m having,” he says. “I like that I can bounce ideas off them.”

In those 10 pages of notes, Boyce has learned that most items must fit into a larger game plan, but in the short term, adapting to new processes and forcing change in the shop can point everyone down a more profitable path.

And two years ago, one of Boyce’s game-changing moments came in the form of one of those short-term ideas—an idea his team is still perfecting to this day.


The Assembly Line

For 33 years, the body techs managed themselves at Boyce Body Werks, Boyce says. And while that system certainly has its place, Boyce envisioned a 100 percent streamlined, hiccup-free approach to scheduling and repairing vehicles, which his small administrative staff couldn’t offer his individual system. And with only one DRP on the shop’s account, the amount of paid-for work and supplements was starting to overwhelm the entire repair process.

That’s why, after visiting numerous shops across the country, Boyce switched his team from an individual, every-man-for-himself process to an assembly line–type process. His body shop teammates went from purely body technicians to filling out roles in the newly established disassembly, blueprinting, body and reassembly segments.

While certainly not a groundbreaking set-up, it was a transition for Boyce’s seasoned technicians, some of whom had worked under his father for over 10 years. But when Boyce presented the changes, he wasn’t just introducing a new process—he was positioning it as a way of becoming more productive and achieving a more fulfilling career.

“At the end of the day, when they realize they’re making more money than last year with less hours, that’s a motivating factor,” he says.

So that was the mentality: work less, make more money. And to make more money, it required across-the-board cooperation and constant adaptation. At morning meetings, Boyce and his team review the repair process and find new ways to streamline procedures and get cars out faster while retaining their quality standards.

“They come up with quite a few ideas to make changes,” he says. “They’ll buy into their own ideas more.”

While his team is “still dialing in” the new team process, they will always, in a sense, be dialing it in, as it’s constantly shape shifting and improving. Technicians will often move between different stages of the repair to where they’re suited best. At first, Boyce started observing and getting to know his team before transitioning the process over.

“It takes time,” he says. “You definitely have to pay attention to what keeps them interested and learning their style.”

The actual orientation of each department on the shop floor is prone to movement as well. Just last month, the reassembly and disassembly departments swapped spots once a reassembly technician realized being near the parts room cut down on walking distance, boosted productivity and improved communication.

At first, Boyce tried out the team system in just one of the shops; today, with the Naperville location doubling in size to 17,000 square feet, he’s smoothly implemented the process at both locations with little to no disruption. As a result, annual revenue has risen by 24 percent in the past two years to $4.2 million, and cycle time in the last year dropped almost 48 hours to an average of six days.

Switching the team processes took two years to develop strategy and layout, he says.

Boyce has shifted the shop’s motto on quality to focusing on being the best. While his dad was running the shop, he says, the team and customers operated under the assumption that quality takes time to produce. Now, Boyce follows the assumption that all the shop’s competition has great quality. The shift in mindset forced Boyce to shift the shop’s processes to cut down on time.

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