Rethinking refinishing in the new year

Feb. 1, 2023
Your paint department could be your best weapon in battling inflation

Collision repairers face a particularly steep challenge dealing with the high inflation other businesses owners have struggled with in 2022, and that probably will remain through much of 2023. First off, already dealing with tight budgets and restrictive pay rates set by insurers, repairers are now paying more for parts, materials, utilities and virtually every cost center they must address. On top of that, consumers are less likely to pay for auto body repairs as they seek ways to stretch their dollars, costing shops work and revenue. Finally, steep inflation has shop employees looking to make more money to offset their rising living expenses, leaving them more open to seek employment at other shops or outside the industry all together.

So, what can repairers do to deal with this three-headed inflation monster?

A good first step is turning to experts who can help them tread these difficult financial waters. Paint companies are especially good sources for solutions, since they offer a number of products and services aimed specifically at increasing efficiencies while pumping up revenue. Consider just a few of the latest offerings from these companies and then call your paint rep for more information.

AkzoNobel: Listening for answers

So, what podcasts are you listening to these days? If your answer is “none,” you’re really missing out. Podcasts are not aimed only at young people looking to learn more about the latest cultural trends or niche subjects that have grabbed their attention. Podcasts are for anyone who wants to know more about a number of subjects. Indeed, according to the marking firm Insider Intelligence notes the largest audience for podcasts are successful, wealthy businesspeople.

If you further look into what podcasts can do for you, you’ll find a number of compelling reasons for why you should be turning into them. For one, podcasts typically are free (making them more accessible), and you can tune into them at any time – during your commute, over lunch, in the evening or whenever you have time to listen. Studies show you’ll gain more from podcasts than videos since you avoid eyestrain and therefore retain more of what you’re hearing.

Moreover, podcasts are an opportunity to hear from experts. If you find yourself too busy to attend trade conferences or industry events, you can hear from many of the same experts on podcasts. Further, successful podcasts are entertaining, engaging and informative, so you’ll enjoy the time you spend with them. There’s a good chance you’ll come away with some new ideas and fresh views that will help you shake up your business. AkzoNobel Automotive Insights Refinish podcast is aimed squarely at this subject, along with expanding your knowledge of the market.

In a recent podcast, Michael Giarrizzo, President and CEO of DCR Systems, spoke with host Graham Threlfall, global key account manager at AkzoNobel, on handling labor shortages. Giarrizzo points to solutions such as engaging your entire team for ideas on ways to improve operations (giving them more power and investment in your shop) and setting up apprentice programs, which he says excites existing techs and demonstrates how your business is investing in the future. Giarrizzo deep dives further into this subject, providing motivation and solutions you can adopt. This is just one small part of one podcast. Consider the benefits you could gain from being a regular listener.

Interested? Go to Spotify and search AkzoNobel.

BASF: Digital solutions for a material industry

While you’re dwelling on ways to shake your shop up and create a more profitable business model, it’s probably a good time to explore implementing more digital processes, especially ones that tie together all the parts of your operations so you can eliminate wasted time and materials. Doing so would keep you on track with other small businesses that have learned to leverage digital offerings that allow them to operate as fluidly as far larger and better financed companies that pour significant amounts of money into new technology.

Fortunately, shops have access to digital solutions that can provide them with just such benefits. BASF’s Refinity offering is a cloud-based (so it can be updated remotely) digital platform designed to drive efficiency in the areas of color, business, training and support solutions. It improves color matching with tools the company says provide more realistic models and panel volume estimations, eliminating the need to redo a mix because of an overpour. The system automatically scans colors and provides guidance allowing shops to make better decisions about spray out.

Refinity additionally provides inventory management tools that permit shops to setup new installations or “weigh-in” existing inventor, establish minimum and maximum inventory levels and monitor consumption levels. Other tools allow repairers to quickly view and search or filter repair orders by repair priority, type, due data, or assigned technician(s); track consumption for each product mixed and generate profitability reports and job costing invoices.

Refinity also includes a training library and links to selected partners offerings to help further connect customers to industry digital offerings intended to drive profitability and efficiency.

PPG: Reducing repair steps

In case you had any doubts if digital processing could have a significant impact in a collision repair business, other paint companies have similar offerings. PPG provides LINQ, a cloud-based system that helps painters modernize their repair processes using interconnected digital hardware, software and services. LINQ aids color matching and mixing to save time and materials.

Along with LINQ, PPG has added solutions to cut steps and save time. Its OneChoice AdPro Max adhesion promoter can be used on unprimed bumpers, facias and other automotive plastics. It’s engineered to allow shops to go straight to basecoat to save time and materials and is available in three ready-to-spray colors that can be mixed together to create five different gray shades.

PPG also now offers OneChoice UV-Cured primer surfacers, which can be fully cured and ready to sand in two minutes. PPG says the surfacers increase throughput, can be cured with UV lamps or sunlight, and are compatible with all PPG topcoats.

About the Author

Tim Sramcik

Tim Sramcik began writing for ABRN over 20 years ago. He has produced numerous news, technical and feature articles covering virtually every aspect of the collision repair market. In 2004, the American Society of Business Publication Editors recognized his work with two awards. Srmcik also has written extensively for Motor Ageand Aftermarket Business. Connect with Sramcik on LinkedIn and see more of his work on Muck Rack. 

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