Archive for December, 2014

Green Car

If you want to get paid, get organized!

Increased OEM competition has driven the complexity of our car color palette to a whole new level. New technology has our painters spraying more and more highly specialized colors that contain pigments can be crazy expensive. You may not realize this, but 30% of the materials you buy are toners. Color is one of the main components that makes or breaks a shops material profitability.

Today we are going to briefly explore a few points that will immediately change the game for your shop.

The Average Process:

So here is a scenario I’ve seen many times. A car comes in the shop. We rip it apart, order some parts and work on it typically 1.5 hours a day for 10 or 12 days. (another subject entirely) When parts come in and we send them to paint. Now the paint shop just wants to get the parts back to the bodyshop asap so they hunt up and mix a paint code. (Hopefully its on the part or we are going to waste 30 minutes hunting for the car and the code!) We then mix the main formula and “cut in” the part. Have you ever thought about this process? “Cut in” is the process where the painter edges the parts with sealer, color and clear so it can be hung on the car. The leftover catalyzed sealer and clear ends up in the waste drum and most likely the left over base coat goes into a big cabinet I like to call the “Color Graveyard”.

Lets evaluate the waste here.

1. No paint code supplied. How much time does that cost?

2. We guessed at the color variant to mix (this is good for later when we are tying up a booth matching the paint)

3. We had enough material left in the gun to seal, base and probably clear the entire part but because the body men don’t like to install painted sheet metal we only did the edge or underside.

4. This process guaranteed a second booth cycle. Have you ever calculated what a booth cycle cost your shop in time and money? In a month where you are not using a lot of building heat, take your gas bill and divide it by the number of cars you paint in a month. I’ve seen $30 a car or more and it gets worse if you don’t change booth filters often enough. (a topic for another day)


Take control of the job in the beginning. 

As a part of your disassembly process:

1. Identify the exact color that you need. Put the color chips in your tear down bay if you have to, but get the color picked early. Add a visual communication cue to the paint shop that a color needs to be picked in the body shop. It can be as simple as a colored bulb in the mixing room 3 way switched from the body shop. Whatever you can do to stop walking, make it happen. There is nothing wrong with preparing a spray out card at this point, changing the order of operations can save a lot of headache later.

2. Document the paint code visually wherever you decide, but put it in the same place every time. Many shops use the windshield.

3. Check with your paint manufacturer for their list of codes that contain specialty pigments. Cross reference your code with that list to determine if you need to add a supplement for materials. Use your paint computer to track your material cost on those jobs, print an invoice and you will get paid. Just a suggestion, don’t beat up your insurance guy for nickels. It only makes it tougher to get paid when it’s time to collect legitimate dollars. I got involved with a job that required a $1500.00 material supplement on a a Porsche. The car had color shift pigment in it and the shop owner told me that the major insurance company would never pay it. I called the adjuster myself and explained the situation. A phone call plus an invoice from PPG’s Paint Manager saved this job from being just painting practice. The shop didn’t lose money, in fact the supplement included a legitimate markup for materials.

In the Paint Shop:

1. Try to mix only what you need to do the job

2. Paint entire parts off the car. If they match and they don’t get damaged during assembly you just saved a booth cycle. If it gets damaged or doesn’t match perfect its ok, because its easier to spot or blend adjacent panels than to seal, base and clear entire panels.  Remember each coat of product applied in the booth takes on average 5 minutes. Painting parts up front complete eliminates a lot of booth time even if the car has to go in for a second cycle. Ideally the blend panels go in the booth at the same time as the part and the car never goes in the booth at all. This is a stretch for shops that are still paying techs to produce hours instead of cars, so I don’t talk about it a lot. Either way the goal is to improve booth utilization.

3. Control your inventory. Create a visual system that keeps mixed color only as long as its needed. (I’ve seen some shops come up with some cool ideas on this, we can talk about offline anytime.)

3. When you are sure the paint is not needed anymore, don’t dump it out! If you are not using catalyzed color, combine left over base coat into 6 or 7 gallon containers with with agitator lids installed. This way you can use your Whites, Blacks, Reds, Silvers, etc. as base colors for other jobs. The result, you won’t have to mix as much of the right color for the next job. Try not to ever waste color, its too expensive.

I hope this information was helpful. Please feel free to Comment, Share or Follow out little blog. We can all learn a lot from each other.


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If you want to get paid, get organized.

Lean – I spend a lot of time working with shops and I refuse to use the word. It's the most overused buzzword in our industry today. Its what everyone wants to be, what some claim to be and what I'm convinced no one fully understands! Common Sense. Now there is a concept we can wrap our heads around.

Common Sense tells us that our process is broken when the average shop only produces 1.5 flag hours per day, per job across their entire business. Insurance score cards are great, but the numbers rarely represent your entire business performance unless you only do work for one company. (If you do, I'm scared for you.)

I have sat and watched both shop and insurer try to figure out how to fix their problems…In the end mainly by passing the buck around. 80 percent of every process is waste. Documented evidence suggest that the average RO involves 2.5 miles of walking by the sum total of steps involved in the repair process.

Everyone wants to complain about problems, because that is the easiest way to make ourselves feel better about whats wrong with our industry. How many times does the technician walk in the office with a widget and say “boss i need one of these” Why does he have to waste the shops $2 a minute in gross sales to come and tell the office about a $2 part that was missed on the insurance guesstimate most shops blindly work from? Not beating up the insurance people, no one can write a complete sheet without thorough disassembly. The people fixing the car need to be the ones writing the complete repair plan up front instead of figuring it out as we go! A good discovery process visually organizes and identifies everything that is wrong with a car up front. Its way more than piling parts on shiny new parts carts. If its broken or going to break, find that out up front…down to the clip. We cant afford to leave anything to chance, this is the time to identify it all. We all know at some point the job becomes about getting the car out so we just fix the little stuff for free because after a dozen days the customer by now is screaming “When will my car be ready!”

Consider a $2000.00 RO. If we loose $50 in labor or parts what is the impact? If a shop normally net nets 10% (easily do able) the business made $200.00. Now take out the $50 and you've just given away 25% of the reason your in business!

Our industry is being held back by the mass of shops that are fixing cars for practice because they don’t know any other way. Shops that are organized and do a good job with disassembly write better tickets and have better cycle times (cash flow) than the market. As a result these shops have a slightly higher severity than the rest of the market and are unfairly judged against a market full of shops who are unknowingly giving away their thin margin to massive disorganization.
This whole process is feeding consolidation at an unprecedented rate.

I want this blog to be a place for us to solve problems. I believe there is strength in us helping each other because no one has all the answers. If you and the other big shops in your market are into learning and sharing, subscribe to this blog and lets solve problems together.

I may be the only one that feels like this, I hope you’ll see the point here.

Next topic “What do you get paid for?” First up “Prime and block”

Please feel free to post and share here or on our Facebook page.

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If someone were to tell you that you they had documented damage under your home that you needed to pay to have repaired, you would want to see the evidence, right? The proof of the damage in a photo would have match with the money you would pay to fix the problem. So if your repair person came to you with dark inconclusive images of the damage they discovered, how likely are you to pay them to do the work?

Exactly. Yet every day body shops are sending up inconclusive evidence of subjective damage and complaining about the time that is paid on repairs. Now before some of you get upset, I'm not here to side with our insurance community or collision centers. In my time, I've come to realize that both parties have process issues. Agreement on labor time for subjective damage begins with clear, accurate pictures.
I invented "The Dent Viewer" to aide both the body shop and insurance company in agreeing on at least "the extent" of the damage.

The Dent Viewer is a waterproof pvc board with a printed reflective film that grabs the flash and casts light and a grid across the panel. The results are impressive.

Find us at Collision Edge
We are working hard to bring solutions to the Collision Industry. Also check out The Tape Thing

Please keep sending your comments and suggestions for new solutions or products!

Thanks tB


Why do we make things so hard? I’ve been fortunate to have observed technicians working all over North America for years, as a whole they are hardworking people who are driven to make ends meet. Generally paid when work is produced, they churn through as much work as possible daily for a paycheck on Friday.

What is getting in their way? …EVERYTHING!
Have you ever calculated what a minute of a technicians time is worth to your shop in gross sales? Do the math and you’ll see how much disorganization is costing your business. (Could be $2 a minute or more)

People (especially men) are visual, so organize that way. Where is the broom and dustpan? If the techs have to look for it, are they going to use it? “NOT!” The best solutions are the simplest. Put the tools at their “point of use” and store them in a way that makes it easy to visually verify that they are stored properly. We invented the cleaning station above to solve this very problem. The combination of numbers and shapes along with some thought on tool storage solved this problem nicely. The only true success test is if people actually use and maintain the solution presented to them. The 1 square contains the 1 trash can, the 1 detail broom, the 1 push broom, the 1 oil dry bucket, the 1 sweeping compound and the 1 dust pan. Yes this is over simplified, but very effective.

When one fixes a problem permanently the payback is ongoing. If the tech has easy access to the cleaning tools he is 100 times more likely to use them. A clean shop is the first step toward an organized shop. The easier you make to process the more likely you are to reach your goals.


For this and other solutions, contact us on the web at Collision Edge

Lets face it…production painting is hard work. Why make it harder?

My name is Tim Briggs. I have been standing and watching paint shops across North America run for years. During that time I’ve come to realize that getting cars done is all about the order and number of operations we perform. Cars don’t care how many times we touch them or how much time it takes to get them done.
Take the priming process for example. Lets assume we are priming a quarter panel with plastic filler just out of the body shop. How many times will we prep that car? You may have said “1”. I hope that is the case. Here is the reality. Many times we fail to plan the whole process because we are focused on the part of the job at hand. So here is how it goes…1. We check the filler for pinholes (a whole separate topic in itself). 2. We feather back the scratches around the filler. (Hopefully minor if the plastic process is right.) 3. We sand back to where we estimate the primer will end. 4. We soft line mask the primer area. 5. We clean and prime the car. 6. After dry time we unmask the car, block the primer, decide if we need to re prime (production killer) 7. We sand or scuff the rest of the quarter, sail, roof, etc. 8. We mask the car. 9. We catch any prep issues in the booth 10. We paint.

Sound pretty typical? Ok so here is the point. In this example alone, we turned one process into 3. Why do we sand for primer, sand for prep and sand to touch up in the booth. Its the same operation but it starts and stops 3 TIMES!

New process, 1. Check the filler. 2. Prep the entire job booth ready pay attention to detail. 3. Refine your scratches around the filler. 3. Do minimal masking, use short plastic instead of building tents out of 36″ green. Be smart with the way you prime, HVLP or even roll prime if the repair is small. 4. When the job is cured, block the primer and wrap up the car. 5. Paint.

Problems this solves.
1. If you have to go larger than you thought with the primer, there is no tear back from unprepared surface.
2. The sanding operation is done 1 time. (Hopefully from a prep cart so materials are handy and not wasted by throwing stuff on the floor between steps) less sandpaper used is important since 8-10% of a shops purchases are abrasives.
3. The bulk of the prep work is completed before the cure time wait. This gets the car in the booth faster once its dry.
4. Sanding the bulk of the job early reduces the sanding dust later in the process for cleaner paint jobs.
5. The biggest win…higher booth utilization. More cars, same effort, different order of (streamlined) operations.

Please feel free to comment and share as we all learn together.

Keep it simple

Posted: December 13, 2014 in Uncategorized

The time I’ve spent with customers has taught me that you can’t buy a “management system”. I mean, there are lots of computer programs that claim to be “that” but it doesn’t make it so! If you own or are looking to buy a management system consider this… you have to have a system to manage before you buy a computer program to wrap around it. Most management systems are like the human brain. You only use 10% of them and if you feed garbage in, that is what comes out!

If you cant work your process on paper, please don’t confuse your people with the dark corners of cyberspace. Consider this, every thing in your shop is a process. If you want to understand it, order pizza…get your people in a room (after hours!)…grab multi color sticky notes and a sharpie…make your own map. Each color is a different person in your shop. Start at the beginning…What happens first, then what, then what and so on. If you do this right, your first night you won’t even get out of the front office side of the process.  You will realize quickly that you have multiple people doing the same job and some that are actually doing things that are counterproductive to one another.

Once you have defined your process, make a form that follows jobs through your process. You will find that the process is easier than ever before and that you will continue to improve it as you go along. Just keep it simple!

If you are looking for some examples of these forms contact me at . We will be happy to assist you!


Why I started Collision Edge?

Posted: December 12, 2014 in Uncategorized


My name is Tim Briggs. My wife and I founded Collision Edge to seek out and solve problems for customers. This blog is an attempt to continue my work in a public way. Please feel to comment and share all you want; all Ill take from this is the satisfaction of knowing I’ve helped make life easier for a few more collision professionals.

We named our company Collision Edge because the body shop is not as easy a place to make money any more. The profits have all been pushed to the “edge” of our existence where fewer and fewer shops can perform “the old way”.

I’ve sat through thousands of hours of the same old training to help shops improve their business. Its like a weight loss program. Most of us know what we should be doing, very few of us are actually capable of leading the change in our local businesses. If you will follow me, we will try to uncover and solve problems together.