Maintaining Operational Excellence

March 25, 2024
Krish Chand makes it a point to achieve and maintain operational excellence and the Fix Auto Network has recognized his work.

Amid a constantly changing collision repair industry, Krish Chand points to a focus on customer service and quality repairs as two factors keeping his shops humming and customers happy. 

Chand operates three Fix Auto locations in Northern California: two in Modesto and one in Sonora.

He strives for operational excellence, and the Fix Auto Network has recognized Chand’s work. In 2018, his team won an award for Best CSI (Customer Satisfaction Index), and Chand was named Rookie of the Year. In 2019, his team again won the Best CSI award, and in 2020, his team won the award for the Best Customer Experience. 

Lean is foundation of a high-quality work environment

In his interview with FenderBender, Chand championed the 5S methodology of lean production as a key contributor to efficient daily operations. 

According to the American Society for Quality (ASQ), 5S is a system that originates from five Japanese words, all starting with the letter “S”. This system aims to create a workspace that is clean, orderly, secure, and efficiently arranged to minimize waste and maximize efficiency. The components are: 

Seiri (sort): Separate needed tools, parts, and instructions from unneeded materials and remove the unneeded ones. 
Seiton (set in order): Neatly arrange and identify parts and tools for ease of use. 
Seiso (shine): Conduct a cleanup campaign. 
Seiketsu (standardize): Conduct the last three S’s daily to maintain a workplace in perfect condition. 
Shitsuke (sustain): Form the habit of always following the first four S’s.

This model fosters a high-quality work environment, both in terms of physical conditions and mental well-being, according to ASQ. The 5S approach is applicable in any workspace that is suitable for visual management and lean production. The state of a workspace according to the 5S standards is vital for employees and forms the foundation of first impressions for customers. 

Chand implemented the 5S model in his own operation a few years ago, and he has been reaping the benefits ever since. Quality checks at each stage of the repair process keep vehicles moving and cycle time down, Chand says.

When a new vehicle gets checked in, it is pre-washed and taken to a designated area for disassembly, where the damaged parts are laid out on a table in a “garage sale style”. Then a supplement sheet is written by one technician. The sheet is then taken to an service advisor. Both the service advisor and the technician will go over every damaged part of the vehicle that needs attention and have photos taken, typically by the shop’s service advisor. From that point, they will create a repair plan before parts are ordered. 

Once all the ordered parts arrive, a body technician is assigned to do body repairs. After the body repairs are completed, the production manager will do a quality check and go through the repairs with the body technician. When the quality check is complete, the vehicle is then taken into the painting process before undergoing an additional quality check. After the painting process is complete, the car is taken to an assembly team to do as their name suggests. 

At this point in the process, the repair plan is reviewed once more. In the event something was missed, it will then be remedied. If nothing more is needed after a review, the vehicle is moved to the detail team, who polishes the vehicle before a final wash. After that wash, the service advisor will do another review. If nothing more is needed, then the final photos are taken for the file and the customer is notified that their vehicle can be picked up. 

Building Trust 

Chand offers tours of his shop to anyone curious about how it operates, and that often includes customers. By showcasing his operation to the world, he says, he motivates his shop personnel to maintain its organization and cleanliness. 

In the Fix Auto locations that Chand runs, the floors are regularly cleaned and polished with a “Zamboni” floor scrubber at the end of every workday.

“I’m not trying to brag, but my shops have polished floors,” Chand says. “We run a clean operation. Many people assume that when they walk into a body shop, they’ll find dust everywhere and everything will be disorganized.” Chand has his workers clean up their workstations between jobs. It doesn’t need to be “polished’,” but it needs to look ready to take in another job. 

Many of those who come for tours are prospective independent shop owners/operators who are considering joining the Fix Auto Network. Chand was awarded that level of trust by Fix Auto when he was searching for an MSO as an independent owner in the mid-2010s. 

Being Open to Change 

Chand graduated from Modesto Junior College with a degree in automotive technology and entered the collision repair industry in the early 2010s.  He says he's open to change, but he’s noticed many shop owners don’t hold that same view.  

“What I’ve seen in the last ten years is a lot of shop owners who are stuck in their ways,” Chand says. “If it’s a second-generation owner, they’re going to say, ‘This is the way my dad did it.’ Or they’re going to say, ‘This is the way it’s always been done.'” 

Although his degree is in automotive technology, Chand looks at collision repair without a preconceived notion of how operations should be done, so he doesn't have to work hard to think outside the box. 

“I look at things differently because I’m not from the industry,” Chand says, adding he often asks himself, “What’s the best way to do this?” or, “What’s the most efficient way to get this done?” 
It’s his business acumen, not a background as a working body technician or painter, that drives his operations. 

“Don’t ask me how to paint a car, and I don’t know how to do bodywork, so don’t ask me to do that,” he says with a chuckle. “I hire professionals to do that stuff and I work on the business end.” 

“We set the expectation ahead of time” 

All of Chand’s locations are Tesla-certified collision centers and have been for three years as EVs are becoming more popular. Chand says it wasn’t difficult to get certified, given that Tesla vehicles have fewer components compared to a typical car with an internal combustion engine (ICE) so this move was an easy response to trending demands. 

This might be easy for him to say, however, because his Modesto city center location has been the “number 1 Tesla Certified Collision shop in the country” for the last quarter of 2023, according to Chand. He also has a five-star rating for his city center location on Tesla’s website.

Chand also refers to ratings on Carwise to see how customers feel about his services. Reviewers on Carwise are asked to rate their experience, the likelihood of recommending the service, repair quality, customer service, whether their vehicle was returned clean or not, as well as whether they were kept informed about their repair process and the timeliness of the repair. The reviews then aggregate into an overall rating of the shop that customers can find. As of late January 2024, Chand’s Modesto City Center location has five stars and the other two have 4.9 stars.  

In addition to offering tours, they also champion clear and effective communication, which is an attribute of Chand’s shops according to customers on Carwise 

“A lot of our customers have never been in an accident before, so we do our best to educate them on the process,” Chand says. “We set the expectations ahead of time.”  

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