Tips for Top-Notch Efficiency

Feb. 1, 2017
A decorated body technician provides his time-saving secrets

Chris O’Dell, the senior-most body technician at Parks Royal Body Works in Boise, Idaho, has always appreciated the chance to resuscitate damaged vehicles. 

“You take a mangled piece of metal and bring it back to life, so to speak,” O’Dell explains. 

O’Dell always helps keep things running smoothly on Parks Royal’s shop floor—in fact, he consistently works above 200-percent efficiency. 

“Chris has led by example ever since he started with our company,” says owner Matt Thornton, who nominated O’Dell for a FenderBender Award. “He always strives to do the job right the first time.” 

O’Dell, who is I-CAR Platinum certified, details his tips for being as efficient as possible.

Listen to Experienced Co-Workers

O’Dell arrived at Parks Royal a decade ago as an up-and-comer in the collision repair industry, having won Idaho’s 2006 SkillsUSA competition while still an underclassman at Boise State University. 

Nevertheless, he wasn’t too proud to listen to advice from industry veterans.

“A painter I worked with when I started down here, he always said, ‘Slower is faster,’” O’Dell recalls. “Like, if you want to clearcoat the layout nice, you need to use a little bit slower of a hardener. And I still apply that [in] the body shop.”

Minimize Your Downtime

In his work, O’Dell strives to be a study in perpetual motion, limiting inactivity as much as possible.  

“You can’t just pull one job in, fix one dent and pull it out,” O’Dell says. “I’m pretty lucky; I have two stalls. So, if I have the ability to work on two or three jobs at the same time, then that’s so much easier.

“A lot of times, if it’s a small repair, I won’t even tear a car down first. I’ll get filler on it, and then while the filler’s kind of chemically doing it’s thing, then I can tear a door down, or pull the bumper cover off.”

Preload Your Stall the Night Before

One secret to O’Dell’s success is his ceaseless attempt to save five minutes here and there—increments of time that, over the course of a week, add up. 

O’Dell has learned the value of preloading his stalls before leaving work at night. And, when he gets a work order, he typically makes sure to have parts on hand ahead of time. 

“I always look the car over before I even start,” he adds. “I always look it over outside first, walk around it, know what I’m going to do. ‘Am I going to have to back the car in?’ …  Things like that. It saves a ton of time.”

Complete Tasks Without Interruption

O’Dell sets himself up for success by always reaching a logical stopping point on tasks. That way, he never has to retrace his steps after, say, a meeting, wasting 20 minutes attempting to get back on track. 

“Around lunch time, if I’m right in the middle of something, I will always finish it,” he notes. 

And, when O’Dell does take breaks, he tries to make each pass through the shop floor as productive as possible.

“If I want to go to the break room,” O’Dell says, “I can walk through the paint department. I can always see where my jobs are. You know, ‘I’m going to be getting this Acura back here in 40 minutes, so I’ll make sure to have my lift available.’ 

“You know, just simple things. It may take a little more time up front, but it’s going to save you in the long run.”

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