The Price of Dust.

Posted: January 19, 2019 in Uncategorized

The Price of Dust

by Tim Briggs

 Collision Edge is committed to solving problems for the Collision Repair Market. Visit our website

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Do you know what Sanding Dust is costing your business?

We spent some time recently like Taiichi Ohno  “Standing in the Circle” watching first hand the effect of dust on the production process. Today we will discuss some insights that may be of value to you. Giimage1.pngve us a follow @collisionedge  if you enjoy what you’ve read.

Body Shops are dirty places, but they don’t necessarily have to be. In a day when body shop margins are having the life squeezed out of them, it’s extremely important to eliminate waste everywhere possible. As it turns out, sanding dust is a huge source of waste.

The only way to remove this waste is vacuum assisted sanding. For many years companies have promoted expensive whole shop systems that were never used because the system manufacturers never understood how technicians work in body shops. Today’s Vacuum sanding systems offer mobility and affordability that can no longer be ignored. There are several quality systems offered to the industry. In this recent experience we reviewed the MIRKA Sanding System complete with their electric Orbital DA and Orbital Block, but there are other strong contenders like 3M Festool , the Dynabrade Mini Raptor  and Uniram Dustless Sanding Vacuum. The new electric tools offered by many of these companies are far superior to their pneumatic counterparts due to largely to size, weight and versatility. The benefits are compounded by energy efficiency and convenience.

It is shocking how much dust is generated inside of a body shop. In this example we measured 8 lbs of sanding dust created from a single large job. Based on some simple math and depending on your work mix, it’s probable that your technicians produce 3-8 lbs of sanding dust per week.

Many of you are thinking “so what?”, “that’s the way it has always been”, “we just have our detail guy clean it, we do it on every job.” A deeper dive into the true cost of dust will reveal many things the “traditional Body Shop” has never realized.

The cost of dust can be summarized in a handful of ways.

Everyone sees the first and most obvious waste is the cost of cleaning the car. However, the biggest and most critical impact is to the health of your employees. Other significant factors are the labor associated with paint finish correction, material consumption and environmental impacts.

Let’s start with the cost to clean the car. It’s really not about the amount you pay your detail technician. It’s more about the opportunity to deliver more cars because your shop is reducing “defect” waste on each job. On Friday when you are trying to deliver all of your cars, (a problem for anothcaptureer day) how much easier would it be if each job was simpler to process. Most shop owners will say “my people are careful with car interiors” but the impact is unavoidable. Dirty shops equal dirty cars. Dirty cars equal missed delivery opportunities.

What is the cost to your technician? Sure they wear Personal Protection Equipment, but why expose them to lethal doses of chemically laden sanding dust hoping that they are adequately protected? Vacuum systems eliminate many of the risk your employees face daily.

Let’s move on to the paint finish. Sure the painters should thoroughly clean the car in prep, but why do we send the contamination created by the body technician to the paint shop? Have you ever thought about the cost of removing trash from a panel? It is shocking to really understand the impact of trash removal on cycle time, material cost and labor. Lay a $20 bill on every piece of dirt that comes out of the booth in your clear coat and you have only begun to understand the cost of trash created by a dirty shop environment.

How can vacuum sanding reduce material consumption? We have already covered the detail material waste, but an even greater opportunity lies in abrasive consumption. We have capturestudied this first hand, abrasives are typically 10% of any shops material bill. Cheaper paper isn’t necessarily the answer to this problem. Abrasives are made up of a backing material, adhesive, mineral and a top lubricant that prevents contaminate loading. This lubricant reduces friction and heat. Vacuum sanders remove dust as it is created and continually passes air over the abrasive. Cooler working temperatures lead to extended resin life subsequently extending your abrasive life. In short, heat is the enemy of sandpaper. Vacuum sanding extends the life of your abrasives.

Finally, and most notably, what is the impact on our environment? Recent surveys indicate the number of Shops in the United States has surpassed 40,000 locations. We can argue exact numbers, capturebut if the average shop has roughly 4.7 technicians producing even 5 pounds of sanding dust per week it quickly adds up to 48.8 Million pounds of uncontrolled pollution. In rough approximation based on our sample, the waste the Collision Industry generates could easily fill 236 railroad cars on an annual basis. -TB

If you like what you’ve seen here today, let us know. If your interested in information about sanding systems email or visit us at or find us on Instagram of Facebook. Thank You for your support.












The next “Thing”

Posted: November 13, 2016 in Uncategorized

Let the Craziness Continue! You may not know who we are, but by now I hope you’ve seen a few of our products. We love our customers!

We watched Prepper’s work for 20 years and spent 2 years and a lot of money developing “The Tape Caddy”. The Caddy is a sister product to the already successful “Tape Thing”. The Tape Caddy keeps everything you use to prep a car within arms reach. No more looking for your tape and other common items. It’s all clipped convienently on your pocket. It’s ergonomically engineered to feel invisible.

You guys who use tape will love it!

We started Collision Edge to bring new solutions to old problems for You Collision Centers everywhere.  We are a family business focused on doing the right thing for our kids future.  We operate from our little barn in The Chatahoochee Hill Country South of Atlanta.

We are far from done with our offerings. Check out our The Estimating Sticks and The Dent Viewer now in “XL” also!

Follow us everywhere @collisionedge . Our website is

 Please call us if you have questions. Ginger and Pam will be glad to help you. (770) 328-5666. 

If your in business, you sell a solution, a product or a service. If your customers don’t excite you, ask yourself…Why? It’s easy to forget that we are all in business because people exchange their hard earned money for what we offer, whatever that is.

Be Nice.

Customers find you because they have a need that they believe you may fufill. Don’t look at the customer as the product or service you do for them…think of them as a human being that has a need, a need you are particularly skilled in fufilling. If your not skilled, ask yourself why and find a way to get better at what you do…

Be Remarkable.

Sales people that seek excellence create their own demand. If your customers don’t talk about their experience with you then figure out why.

Good or bad, remarkable experiences are like a virus that spreads from person to person.

Be Real.

People connect on a personal basis. If you treat your customer like a business deal, you have limited your relationship to a transactional experience that can be replaced by anyone for a any price at any time.


The customer in front of you has more than the one obvious need that brought them to you. Find the underlying needs you’ll catch a gear that you didn’t even know existed before…

If your customers don’t excite you, do yourself a favor and find what does. Do it loud, with all your heart.

tBriggs 2015

 Question…Why don’t most shops do this? Answer…things are so messed up that we don’t want to talk about them and when we do it turns into a morning event!
If you’re like most shops you struggle with keeping up with the rigorous demands to customers and Insurance partners. These demands bury shops in a rut of  unnecessary confusion, uncertainty and fatigue. It makes the average person want to leave Friday and never come back!

Let’s explore the elements of a morning release meeting that will change your shop starting tomorrow.

1. Do you have a list of all the jobs in your shop with the in date and promise date? Sounds simple, but you would be amazed that some shops don’t.

2. Is the list shared live with all of your employees? In a day when tech is nearly free, there is no excuse not to have your shop digitally connected. (DM us for free options. We would love to help you solve the problem)

3. Do you have a meeting format? We recently worked with a shop on an SOP for morning release meetings. Here is what we developed.

A. Estimators and department heads only. Keep the rest of your people working.

B. Have a list. Pass it out at 4PM each day to allow people to prep for the next morning. Here is the concern…What’s going today, what’s going tomorrow and most importantly what’s late.

C. Define a prioritized list of tear downs and build ups that your people can check off. Pay attention to the hours on each side, try to balance the load, it will help your touch time tremendously (DM us if you need help with the list)

D. Define a time limit for the meeting. We decided 30 seconds per total car in process was a good guide. If the shop has 30 cars in process the meeting time limit is 15 minutes. Remember we are only talking about the cars that are late, leaving today and tomorrow. Every car does not have to be discussed.

E. What is discussed? For each car that is on the list, each department in order answers one question. “Are you holding this car up from leaving?” The only answer allowed from each department is “No” and “Yes” and if the department says “Yes” then they have to state “When” (time or date) so the only allowable answers are “Yes” & “No and When”. There is no “why”. Why leads to excuses and bunny trails. Why points at process problems, that’s a different meeting.

Morning release meetings are vital to your business. We think you’ll agree once you try it, let us know how it works out for you.

Today we will review a few simple steps to reduce paint waste and improve profits. There are many factors that contribute to paint and material waste. We will briefly cover equipment, product and process in an effort to give you key actionable items that will assist you in quickly identifying areas where your shop can improve.

Equipment Equipment is the most overlooked element of material profit in todays collision center.

Spray Guns. How many times have we actually taken a look at what our technicians are using to apply Thousands of Dollars worth of paint daily? There is a huge difference in delivery efficiency of the various spray guns and yet we tend to overlook the importance of selecting the best option for maximizing material efficiency. IMG_0959The gun is only the beginning of the equation. Using the proper fluid tip for the product being sprayed is just as important. Todays guns offer a dizzy array of air caps and fluid needle setups. Many people believe that the smaller nozzles are more efficient, but this is not always the case. The ideal gun setup will lay the material flat and thin quickly with little effort. Material waste occurs when the painter has to “mash” the applied paint to get the desired look.

Air- What drives the spray gun? Air. The worlds best guns will only work properly when the user delivers the right quality and volume of air to a spray gun. The typical shop spends money on a desiccant system that sits in the booth and assumes that that will make clean air. Typically it is installed and works great for about a week and is then forgotten about. It then becomes a source of contamination as the desiccant beads begin to fly apart from being soaked with water.  The mistake? Quality Air is a system, not one piece of equipment. It begins with a compressor and refrigerant dryer that has enough capacity to meet the demands of the shop. The air delivery piping must be sized to deliver the air efficiently. The proper setup reduces the moisture that the final desiccant system sees so that the desiccant media is not overpowered with excessive moisture. 

Volume. Look at the difference in these two patterns from the same gun. The pattern on right came out of a gun with a high flow hose and fitting. When guns are supplied with the right volume of air they will apply the finish more efficiently. Pressure is another important consideration. HVLP and reduced pressure guns will literally blow paint into useless vapor if the pressure is set too high. Gun manufacturers recommendations must be followed. There are some great options out there today for setting gun pressure. Look for the tool that provides the least flow restriction. Ideally gun pressures should be set at the wall regulator. The gun regulator should only be used for special circumstances where lower pressure is momentarily required.

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Product There are huge debates about which products cover the greatest area per gallon of applied material.

Solids. Every TDS Sheet will spell out a products % Solids. In short this percentage is simply “What volume of product is left after the curing process.” Most of todays low VOC products are between 45% and 55% solids, they leave about half the wet film thickness behind after curing

Viscosity. Todays refinish products are all fairly similar provided the equipment and fluid viscosity are given attention. Every manufacturer specifies viscosity expressed in seconds. DIN4 is one of many viscosity standards used in the industry today. A DIN4 cup is a cup with an small hole in the bottom that leaks paint in a very precise way. The seconds referred to how long it takes before the stream from the cup bottom breaks into drops. Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 6.25.44 PM Viscosity is controlled with solvent. Solvent is anything that thins a paint. If the viscosity is to high, additional solvent will resolve the issue, the opposite is also true. Solvent and catalyst selection are other important factors. Many times technicians choose fast catalyst and fast solvent in an effort to speed paint curing. Often times this will cause the painter to over apply the film to attain the desired flat finish. Paint sprayed with the proper reducer, catalyst and viscosity will lay out more efficiently ultimately reducing overall material expense.


Estimating Material Efficiency begins at the estimate. We should always try to get paid realistitic time on Subjective Damage. Many times its just a discussion that we don’t want to have or can’t fully support with photos. Take blends for example. If they are not written up front but must be done to complete the repair, we have missed an opportunity to sell materials! Collision Edge has developed some photo tools to provide supporting documentation for the decision to blend adjacent panels and aides to help justify repair times on subjective damage.

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Body Work Body work is the second step in the process of maximizing material usage. Often times primer is misused to “fill” imperfections left in the body work. If you find yourself priming 2 and 3 times, chances are improvements could be made in your shops body work process. On Left, Notice the sand scratches around the filler edge that have filler wiped in them? Dissimilar material expansion will cause these imperfections to show in the first priming, causing a second priming. The second priming will mask the imperfection for a while, but will eventually show through after the job has gone home. Notice on the right how uniform the filler edge can be? This comes from the repair edge being properly feathered prior to filler application. In short, better body work reduces material consumption to the final repair


Panel Preparation and Cleaning

Everything a technician does to a panel impacts how much material it will take to refinish it. Preparation and cleaning are no exception. Have you ever poured water on a glass table? What does it do normally? it beads and runs to find the lowest point on the table and runs off in streams. What your seeing here is the effect of the surface tension that exist on the glass. Prepared panels are exactly the same. All prepared panels have microscopic abrasions of various sizes along with other things like static charges and contamination. All of these factors fight a paints ability to lay flat quickly.

Consider the following thoughts.  Contamination.  When you sand a panel, what happens to whatever contaminates that are present? Do they sand off or get sanded deeper into the film? I hope you’ll agree on the latter, plus what effect do these contaminates have on the life of your sandpaper? (Sandpaper ranks 3rd on what you spend money on) Have you ever sanded over tree sap? How did that work out? So, contaminates should be removed prior to sanding. The only way to do this is a 2 step process that addresses both solvent and water soluble contamination. Usually a Wax and Grease and Warterborne pre cleaner.  Sand Scratch depth. We all love our red scuff pads, I know that. But do you realize that those burgundy bricks are carving microscopic straight line corn rows in the panel your about to paint? Random orbital DA scratches are far easier to cover with paint and with the options a tech can create a really smooth sanding profile. Proper panel preparation and cleaning will lead to paint laying flat quicker and easier with less need to over apply for appearance.

Color Color represents 30-35% of a shops expense on paint. There are a few careful considerations involved in minimizing waste here. Identify appropriate color variant early in the process using appropriate lighting. The 3M Sun Gun is an excellent choice for color correct lighting. Mix the color for the job 1 time in an appropriate amount for the job. PPG has a great tool called volume estimator that helps technicians think in ounces as opposed to quarts. Jobs are selected based on car size. The size of the car predicates a number of panels. The user sets the standard that he feels is appropriate for his product and shop. Typically solvent shops can use 3oz of unreduced base and 6oz of Ready to Spray clear per panel as it is defined in the system. For instance, a small hood is defined as 2 panels while a large hood is 3 panels. The panels are selected as “paint” or “blend” by multi taps and the user and a total number of ounces is calculated for the user as a guideline. The main win with volume estimator is helping the technician to think in ounces. Only a few ounces per repair can mean real $ per repair.

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Gound Coat Use the recommended ground coat. OEM plants have long been painting cars to only hide the undercoat and give a uniform finish. If a technician will use the recommended ground coat, a match will be attained in fewer coats with less material applied. Control waste. Use every drop of base mixed. Even if that means dumping waste into similar color containers to use later as a ground coat. Silvers, Golds, Blacks, Whites, etc. Use it all and you will save a lot of money.

Clear Coat Clear Coat is second behind color in a shops to purchases. Again, all of the above factors with gun setup and viscosity apply. Manufacturer Warranty guidelines typically look for 2-2.5 Mils of dry clear on the panel. Todays high solid finishes can easily double that thickness. Its not a bad practice to periodically test the mill thickness of applied clear on blend panels to make sure the appropriate amount is being applied. If more mils are present, clear is being over applied.

As you can see from this discussion, Paint consumption can be affected by many factors. We hope that this discussion has been as valuable for you as it was fun for us to put together. We love solving problems for customers. Please feel free to contact us

“Ding..Ding” Another email oohno circlerder comes in from the Collision Edge Website. We are addicted to the satisfaction that comes from helping shops.  The solutions we have brought to market came from many visits to great body shops across the country. We love to just go there and “Stand in the Circle”.  So before you ask if we are nuts on the whole Standing in the Circle” thing, Let me explain..Famous Toyota Executive, Taiichi Ohno, used to draw a circle on the ground and tell people to stand in it and observe a process for hours until they fully understood the challenges.

My name is Tim Briggs. I’ve had the unique opportunity of spending time with some of the most forward thinking people in the Body Shop Industry. I imagine by now you’ve probably seen at least one post from various Collision Edge social media sites. We started this whole deal to educate our kids on business and put them through college. My days are spent with customers, my nights are spent living with the bee like hum from a head full of insights and problems that plague our industry. This cycle has led my wife and I to invest in, innovate and launch several products that are focused on making a difference in the Collision Repair Industry. Our goal has been increasing shop profits by focusing on emerging processes like “Blue Printing Discovery” and “Point of Use” tools. 

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The Blend Stick

The first problem we saw was the constant debate over “Blend within”. As a paint guy I’ve spent a countless hours trying to panel match colors that legitamatley needed to be blended but weren’t because there was not a standard process for defining the need to “Blend” adjacent panels. The Blend Stick is a high contrast, easy to read photo tool that assist the shop in documenting the need to charge for blends on adjacent panels.

Copy of Copy of DSC_0197The Estimating Sticks

Closely following The Blend stick where the Dent    Sizer and estimating sticks. These tools are used to add scale to photographs of panel damage. Right away people began using the tools to photo locate decals and emblems in the discovery process. How many times do you have a tech waste a half hour coming to the office for a photo showing emblem locations? I’ve watched it happen, and the process usually involves 2 or more people!

The Dent Viewer

Next on the list…“Subjective Damage”. How many hours should I charge for this and can I support the labor time with a photo? Soft dents, creases and rolls are hard to capture in photos.  We developed the Dent Viewer to solve this problem. The key innovation here was using a light gathering film commonly found on street signs.

The film grabs the flash at a 90 degree angle and reflects a line grid back onto the panel in the photo. Nothing hides from The Dent Viewer.

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The Tape Thing

One day I was standing in a shop watching a guy mask a fender. He put the tape in his mouth and under his arms until he finally laid it on the fender. You know what happened next right? It slides off the fender and rolls 20 yards across the shop floor and flops in a puddle of water! I went home that night and laid awake thinking of how to solve that problem. At 6 am I was standing in front of Home Depot armed only with a roll of tape and the desire to fix this problem. I walked the isles that morning and spent over $100 on anything that looked like it might help me solve the problem. The result is now known as The Tape Thing. It’s a magnetic tape core device that allows tape to freespool effortlessly from the users hand.

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Collision Edge is committed to bringing new solutions to old problems. Our products sell because they all offer a nearly an instant return on investment. We are all in with our little company. Our profits are split between the college funds and R&D for the next innovation. We will keep “Standing in the Circle” and bringing you new products.

Thank you for your support, we look forward to hearing from you.

Tim Briggs


So is sandpaper important? How much of your material budget do you spend on Abrasives? Do you know? We’ll get to the answer in a minute.

So why does our industry consume dizzying array of abrasives? What are the pros and cons of each type and how can your shop minimize cost without sacrificing quality?

Ok so the sandpaper gods have created every grit and attachment mechanism under the sun…its all around body shops every day. Sandpaper has a cost and a price. The price is what you pay and the cost is the net result of the effect the product has on your shops performance.

Sandpaper has been around since the ancients used shark skin or crushed shells bonded to papyrus with tree gum. The technology has made huge advancements, but the same limits still apply to all the products. Heat from friction is one of the main enemies of abrasive life. Heat is generated by clogged paper and excessive DA speed. Slow down a bit and wipe/smack your paper frequently to make it last longer. Pay attention to the “throw” of your DA orbit also. DA’s are available in orbits from 3/32″ to 1/2″ or more. The tool matters. I prefer a 5/16″ even on detail grits. Keep it cool, keep it clean.

Which one is right for your shop depends on the system you set up to use your abrasives.

Typically the average shops body technician is going to have his own open box of 80, 180, 240 or 320 grit da paper, duplicated grits of file paper and 24,36,50 grit Roloc and 5 inch grinding disk. Contrast that with the average paint shop that keeps DA AND/or flat paper grits of 240,320,400,600,800,1000,1200,1500, 3000 and now even 5000 grit finishing abrasives.

Can you see now why the average shop spends 9-10% of its material budget on abrasives? Following are a few steps you can take to choose a system and maximize your dollar for abrasives.

1. Streamline Inventory. Everyone likes different stuff, but all the techs in your shop can agree on a limited list of part numbers if you try. Example which roloc will you use?

Shops really don’t need 24,36,50 and now even 80# Roloc. You will find that finer grits like 50 and 80 cut faster than the 24 and 36 and leave far less collateral damage. Test this for yourself…i didn’t believe it either until my rep showed me.

Anything over 3 DA prep grits for paint is a luxury. If your painters need anything coarser than 320 then they are body men! Most shops have been able to get the range down to like 320, 600 and 800.

Take an inventory of the products in your shop. Once you make your list, get rid of everything else. Most of the customers Ive worked with say, “we will just use those others up”. It never happens. 3 months later when that odd grit is gone, your salesman will unknowingly reorder you more because he doesn’t know any better!

2. Build process carts – I have a client with 6 body techs who to date only has 1 Gallon of Bondo, 1 bottle of glaze, and 1 box of each grit of Body abrasive open. The cart is visually organized and stays centrally located to all the techs and rolls everything needed to fix dents right to the car. Why not put a dust free system on your cart? How much money does sanding dust cost? Ask your clean up guy, He catches all the evils created during the repair process. He is the unsung hero of your organization!

3. Pick a system. If you have a cart or another set up where techs can keep partially used abrasives then it makes sense to use velcro. Typically velcro will cost 20% more. Just like any other premium product, If its used correctly it is more than cost effective, it’s a no brainer.

Proper abrasive selection is very important to your material bill and executing consistent, quality repairs. 

10 percent of the money you spend is on abrasives. It’s 4th on the list in cost priority yet many shops overlook its importance or default to the cheapest box they can buy. Consider all the cost and the end goal and you’ll find that abrasives are a cornerstone to your material profit goals.


The Color of Money.

Posted: January 29, 2015 in Uncategorized


I remember the day in 1999 when I first saw a color shift paint job. Everyone went crazy over it. I believe then it was $32 an ounce to buy…crazy right? Todays custom finishes have evolved further and more and more these colors are finding their way into OEM formulations.

Color is the number one highest material cost that body shops encounter and yet we focus on everything but that! I need a cheaper clear, cheaper tape, cheaper razor blades or cheaper sandpaper. Color is 30-35% of what you buy. Control color cost and you are well on the way to solid profitability on materials.

Specialty pigments are popping up everywhere and if you don’t charge for them you will loose a lot of money. Most of the paint companies have quick reference guides available that will help identify these colors containing specialty pigments. Pay close attention and you will see what we are talking about here.

Why do we pick colors in the paint shop? Why not do it when we write the estimate? Ive seen jobs that $30 an hour wouldn’t even cover the cost for the color, much less the rest of the paint and materials…Create a simple repair order invoice and the problem is solved.

Forget specialty colors for a minute…why do we edge parts with the “Prime/Standard” mix? Why not pick the variant and mix the right color to begin with? Chances are we throw away enough product to paint the whole part because we got in a hurry to edge a part for a body man to hang. Why is it so hard to mix paint once for a job? Waste paint is ok because it will get used eventually right? WRONG. It will sit in huge fire cabinets forever and just wait to be dumped out.

What’s wrong with dumping waste paint into similar color gallon cans and using it “base up” with? If you use every drop of color you mix, you will be well on your way to controlling your expenses.


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We have all been there. A peaceful morning in the shop office is shattered by a single phone call.  The callers question? “When will my car be ready?” Off to the races, receptionist says “Hold on a minute,let me check!” Then we proceed to interrogate everyone in the shop office, head to the body shop and ultimately we end up in the paint shop asking the painter when he is going to get that car done…(which by the way he just got a few minutes ago because of everything else that delayed the car for the last 10 days!)…and then we talk about needing faster paint or a better painter or someone to come fix our “bottleneck” in paint!

Hello! I Tim Briggs and I feel your pain. If this has never played itself out in your shop office, stop reading here and check out another post on our blog at

So…why is communication so hard? Its hard because in Body Shops have tough jobs that involve many different people both inside and outside our business.

Common Answer: I’ll just “buy a management system”. This is not a bad idea, but don’t waste your money unless you intend to build your communication process first. These free tools from Google will help you with that…

Years ago I bought a day planner thinking “This will organize me”…I doodled in it, made notes, carried it around and finally threw it in the trash because I found I didn’t have time to be organized because I was too busy! I bought a solution to a problem, but failed to execute the solution because it was someone else’s system and I didn’t take the time to wrap my activities around it.

If you can’t draw your process in crayon on your office wall, don’t expect a piece of software to do any better. (Seriously, don’t draw on your walls with crayon, the guys with white coats will find you and dart you!)

Google Apps offers some serious benefits to shop owners with ZERO cost.

I’m not a paid Google spokes person.  When I find simple solutions for my customers that work I’m going to talk about them! Google has created software versions similar to Word, Excel and Powerpoint. These programs are offered free to registered users. They are not as pretty as other programs, but boy are they powerful. Here is why. We all use excel to create to go lists, process sheets and if we get really fancy financial tracking. These sheets are typically locked away on one computer in the shop or maybe they are even on a shared server. Even still edits are painful because of versioning and other issues. Google sheets looks ordinary, even cheap compared to Excel…with one exception…50 people can be on a single sheet at one time editing cell by cell beside each other LIVE with autosave every time you click out or hit the enter button. So what is the win? You can now create and share your production sheet with your entire organization simultaneously and allow your people to edit the sheet live. Here is an example.

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We created this for a customer to track jobs through various production phases. All of these files are stored in another App called “Google Drive” your password protected Google Drive holds all types of files. You can even create subfolders for say “each customer” and have all of your people upload or view vehicle pics right from their smartphone over your wireless for Free. This stops the question “You got a picture of where these emblems go boss?”

I’ve used this app to set up parts return logs, parts room inventories of “leftover un-returnable items” whatever. Its very easy to work with once its set up.

Google calendars offers the ability to create individual employee calendars as well as shared calendars and email reminders to coordinate all of your staff together. Schedule cars in and out, keep up with booth maintenance items and remember your anniversary or spouse’s birthday all at once, totally secure, with the ability to display multiple calendars on top of each other all driven by your log in. You have total control of who sees what, when and where.

Google communities and Google Groups, offers you the ability to create a closed group that stream post like other social media outlets. Your people can collaborate 24/7 from any device.

Google Hangouts even allows you to video chat with anyone or any group of people anytime or anywhere you wish, even in your own building! Again, Free.

How cheap are big screen TV’s today? Any store you go to will have a 8 Zillion inch “old tech” tv for surprisingly cheap. Go out in your shop, hook up a $200 computer with a browser and your done. Put one in every department…It will pay for itself immediately and it raises the image of our collision centers.

I know many of you have already taken the technology plunge, this was not for you. If you have invested in I.T. make sure you are utilizing the functionality and getting good information out of your system. If you are not sure you are, then why are you paying for it each month? Keep it simple.

I hope this information was helpful to you. Please feel free to comment, subscribe and share our little blog. Find more information about us at We are always available to assist you in setting up your system.

Check out the Collision Edge Facebook page…we have a fun offer going on right now.

Have a good day yall!


Buffing Cart

Why is it so hard to keep things straight in our shops?

How much time do you waste looking for all the things you need to get cars done?

The example pictured above is a Buffing Cart.  It’s an example of a “point of use cart” that has been very effective in saving time and wasted materials. I’ve worked with a lot of customers to develop custom solutions for visual organization. Any time you work in a group of people with overlapping tasks, staying organized is a challenge. The true test of an organizational system is how long it stays that way!

Anyone can clean up a work area and increase the appearance of orderliness, but it takes thought to build a system that produces consistent results. Experience has led me to a few simple rules that will hopefully help you in your business.

1. Keep it simple.

What are you trying to accomplish? What are the steps to make that happen? What products will be involved? You need to know every product that could be involved, don’t leave anything out. List out the tools, consumables, personal protective equipment, etc. (Take note of all the duplicated products that each person in your business keeps. How many gallons of body filler do you have open at one time? Compound? Glaze? Rolls of Tape?)

2. Make it easy.

If you are trying to influence people to a shared vision, start by making the solution benefit each of them. After all, they will be the one to use the solution day in day out. If you involve the people in the creation of the solution, they will contribute and accept the final process as their own.

3. Optimize. Focus on the cost not the price.

Every process creates waste that effects another process. Example, if you are building a plastic filler cart, put a vacuum sanding system on it. Expensive? Yes, but cheap compared to the labor involved in cleaning bond dust out of a car or creating a dissatisfied customer. The buffing cart above has a plug in power supply for the cart that energizes a surge strip that feeds an electric DA, Flood Light, variable speed buffer and a radio. (DA never gets used for dirty prep work this way)

4. Make it Visual and Vertical.

Every product needs to be organized visually on the cart. Don’t leave any question as to the precise location of each product. If you have 3 boxes of sandpaper, cut square holes where they go and put a picture of the box in the bottom of the hole! Oversimplified? Yes. Effective? Absolutely. You will notice in the picture, we streamlined the products to 2 compound bottles, a trigger bottle of 50/50 alcohol and water (cool trick for final cleanup to make sure you didn’t just fill swirl marks instead of eliminating them), a trigger bottle of plain water, glass cleaner, and trim black. Notice that these round cutouts are on a flat surface? Every other surface is vertical with good reason. Its hard to pile trash on sloped surfaces. Notice the cutout for the dedicated detail DA? Its round like the pad so it says to everyone “the DA goes here”. The plastic box holds 4 microfiber towels, one for each step of cleanliness. Have you ever had a tech final wipe a car with a rag that had compound on it? What about buffing pads? They need to be ultra clean. Put them in a dedicated plastic box, again with a picture of the pad on the box. (How many times have you walked through your shop and seen a buffer laid on its back with a pad facing a sky full of flying dirt,metal and other nasty scratchy particles?)  Organize everything on the cart this way, use magnets, velcro strips, zip ties whatever it takes to make it easy and visual. If you want the cart to roll around the shop, rip those little 3″ plastic wheels off and put some 10″ 4X4 cushion tires on it.  Many shop owners I’ve worked with try to solve problems by adding rules that no one will follow after the boss gets tired of enforcing them! Don’t expect your people to use a solution that makes their job harder! Just make it easy and they will love it.

5. Don’t expect to just buy your solution on the internet. 

There is not a company out there that can offer your shop the perfect organization solution. Buy something that is 75% there and make the rest work for you. Home Improvement and Craft stores have lots of solutions, just keep your eyes open when your out. We found the DA pad boxes at Hobby Lobby! The Container Store is also a great place to find storage solutions.

primer cartPrimer Cart2Priming Cart

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