Archive for the ‘Collision Centers’ Category

I’m Tim Briggs, owner of Collision Edge. We are dedicated to the success of our customers. Putting it simply, we find new solutions to old problems. Collision Edge Website

A battle for the ages. Body techs and painters have been arguing about filler work since the day the first shop split up Combo Techs! It’s easy to make filler straight with coarse abrasives, but the devil is in the details when refining filler for primer and final paint. Why do many technicians think primer is a magic wand? Let’s discuss the why’s and how’s to a better paint foundation.

Pictured above is a typical repair that paint shops are priming up day in and day out. So what is the big deal? Consider this.

Thermal Expansion- Every form of matter expands and contracts at its own rate when the temperature changes.

filler repairs are a lot like blending a color, the goal is to mask the expansion and contraction of various materials by priming over the exposed repair elements ( Plastic Filler, Glaze, Etch Primer, Ecoat, ect) create a consistent surface. Sand scratches create problems because they expose different materials in a pattern left by the “wounded surface” of a panel.

Urethane Primer- Everyone knows that lacquer primer doesn’t do the job, but even the best Urethane Primers are still over 50% solvent.  Some of the solvent will remain in the dry film for a significant time after it is dry and sanded so some shrink will always occur no matter which primer you use. For this reason, many custom painters will sand a filler to open the surface to allow the solvent to escape several days before re-priming. The primer shouldn’t be over-applied for these same reasons. Two priming applications are often better than one because less solvent is trapped at the surface. Waiting on primer or multiple priming applications is not practical for a production shop,   so it most crucial to minimize sand “gouging” during minor panel repairs. Courser abrasives are great for shaping a surface, but technicians have to be careful to first minimize deep scratches but later refine those scratches with finer abrasives before priming.


Guide Coat- Guide Coat is the best way to identify stray scratches that will cause priming issues. Many companies offer great solutions, some like Mirka even offer additional color options like White. Sanding filler with the next finest grit doesn’t really count unless a technician completely removes the coarser scratch. Guide coat is the best way to identify if this has been accomplished.


Photo Courtesy of Boothtalk – Jeremy Winters

Pin Holes – Let’s talk about pinhole repair. The Most obvious answer is “Don’t make pinholes” and if you talk to good people that make your filler they are sure to be able to give you some tips that will minimize pinholes (that is a topic for another day).   One product does stand out to use in conjunction with your primer.  Evercoat 440 Express is a unique product that if used correctly will make a big difference in your filler finish. This product will not fill every pinhole or sand scratch, but is a nice addition for certain minor defect correction. We grabbed the application instructions and posted them here.


Big Jobs. If for whatever reason you need heavy filling capability over large areas, many people use a product called “Polyester Primer”. Polyester primer is a very low solvent primer that is slow to dry, but has minimal shrink because it’s essentially a fiberglass resin barrier coat that acts like a “Spray on Bondo”. Note that it is advisable to topcoat Polyesters with “Urethane Primer” to maximize topcoat adhesion and seal the porous surface left behind after the Polyester is sanded. (Don’t wet sand polyester)


Photo Courtesy of Rob Paddock – Paddocks Paint Works. Rob Uses Clausen Rust Defender.


Spray Gun Selection. Here is what we recommend. Dig the nastiest gun you own out of thIMG_0959e bottom your toolbox and Throw it away! Primer is the foundation of a paint job and yet many technicians choose to use inconsistent, poor atomizing guns because “It doesn’t seem to matter”. Wel,l guess what,it does! Poor atomizing guns pack solvent into your primer bed. These same solvents have to come out later. After all your hard work to make that glassy finish, we don’t want you to be dissatisfied. Secondly, Feed your gun clean dry air, and don’t forget about high flow fittings, they make a huge difference in your guns performance.

There are many good spray gun companies in the market at any price point you choose, we are most confident in SATA spray equipment. SATA makes a really nice primer gun. We talked to Miguel Perez from MAPR Designs recently about his choice of primer guns. Miguel uses the SATA 100 BF for his work at Extreme Performance in South Florida. Miguel told us that this gun offers the consistency and versatility he’s after all at a price point that delivers the goods for his priming needs. 




Approach to Sanding Method. Scratch depth varies according to the sanding method. Straight Line sanding creates the deepest cornrow in your substrate, Orbital sanding results in a shallower scratch and surprisingly the bigger the orbit the sallower the scratch. (keep this in mind for finish sanding too.)

Sandpaper construction. Scratch depth for the same grit across multiple manufactures varies because of the construction of the abrasive. Think of the abrasives as rocks buried in mud, all are the same size, some are sunk into the abrasive adhesive resin and dry lubricant deeper that others.  In short 80 Grit in one brand may leave a finer or coarser cut than another. Be aware and use what seems to work best for you. Today’s fillers sand very easily, 80 Grit is the new 40 Grit when it comes to filler leveling.  Pay attention to the adjacent area around your repair to minimize the size of the repair. Don’t be afraid to use tape to protect areas you don’t want to sand, this will save everyone a lot of time.

100 Grit Rule. Pay attention to the 100 Grit Rule as much as possible. If you start with 80 Grit, refine that to 180 Grit (remember your guide coat will tell you if you removed all the deeper scratches) Refine your 180 Grit with minimum 240 but ideally 240 followed by 320 Grit. Use guide coat between each sanding operation. (you can also use some powder guide coat in clear coat blocking!)

Wrap Up. If you are priming over an average 180 grit scratch, you are trying to fill too deep a profile. Consider taking the extra step in sanding to minimize many downstream issues that are created by primer shrinkage.

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

We hope you enjoy our blog post, Drop me a line any time

“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. 

Blend stick pic

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.

IMG_3569 IMG_3570

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.

Tape Thing LayoutDSC_0679DSC_0693Copy of 10559726_824594737581596_5153171753865951062_nCopy of Tape Thing Pic green car

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. The 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.


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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.

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 11.45.42 PM

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!


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”

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