As a company specializing in body work and through our experience in the industry, we’ve noticed that the vast majority of body shops struggle to balance their production day to day. Out of habit, they focus mainly on large projects at the start of the week, which overloads the body work department while neglecting the finishing department. Have you already wondered what the impacts are of this working method and to what extent it can harm your efficiency, rental costs, workplace relationships, and – indirectly – relationships with your customers? We’ve worked with body shops to help them divide up their repair time as evenly as possible so that they can maintain a stable production capacity from day to day.
Adjust your appointment booking method
Around 90% of the body shops we’ve had the opportunity to work with have experienced or are currently experiencing this problem of production imbalances. In other words, they begin their weeks by scheduling between 50 and 60% of their weekly volume primarily made up of projects that will take over 20 hours. As shown in Graph 1, production follows the “push” approach when, each week, the shop fills up on Monday and empties by the end of the week. In such a case, the outputs are almost non-existent at the beginning of the week and are quite concentrated on Fridays. Each week, the production feels the negative effects of this way of scheduling. The workstations located upstream of the production process are practically empty at the start of the week but are pushed to their limits near the end of the week. Let’s just say that this situation doesn’t promote harmony in the workplace.
Graph 1: Effect of an unbalanced schedule
“Push” vs. “pull” approach to production.
The “push” approach to production seen within the operations of most body shops is essentially due to their appointment booking method and their ignorance of other ways of doing things. It’s not a matter of placing blame on a particular workstation. Quite the contrary; it’s a matter of viewing the situation from a more general vantage point so you can then propose a suitable solution. By taking your production capacity into account, and by opting for the “pull” model, you can more easily handle a continuous flow of inputs and outputs for each of the workstations that make up the repair process.
It’s essential that the staff responsible for booking appointments recognizes the impact that their working method has on the production floor. The arrival of large projects at the start of the week overloads the body work department, while the finishing department is practically in standby mode. It’s also not appealing to deliver 12 vehicles out of 20 on a Friday at the end of the day when the technicians finish at noon. An unbalanced schedule affects all of a body shop’s operations.
Greeting the customer is not an easy job. You often have to deal with a customer without really knowing what’s going on with their vehicle in the shop. The goal is often to make sure that the courtesy or rental vehicles are returned on Friday to ensure a sufficient number of vehicles for the beginning of the following week. Since these workshops usually schedule the majority of their production inputs at the start of the week, it’s not surprising that liaison representatives have developed this habit; they need these vehicles!
The production manager and the liaison representative must properly communicate the application of an appointment booking method. Too often, the office staff’s efforts to balance the schedule are affected by the demands of the production manager, who falls back into old habits. Everyone must respect the following model.
Follow an optimized appointment booking model :
Let’s explain this model in the following way. First, let’s divide up the project sizes: small = less than 10 hours; medium = 11-20 hours; and large = 21+ hours. Based on this distribution of total hours, what I propose here is to concentrate on your small projects at the start of the week and focus on your larger projects at the end of the week. From Monday morning to Tuesday at noon, mainly schedule small jobs. From Tuesday at noon until the end of the day Wednesday, schedule medium-sized jobs. Finally, on Thursday and Friday, schedule big projects.
By applying this method, the following situations will be produced. On Monday morning, the medium-sized jobs from the middle of the previous week will be ready to be painted. The little jobs that arrived at the body shop in the morning will arrive at the finishing department at the end of the morning. The big jobs from Thursday and Friday will be finished around the middle of the following week. Everyone will be equally busy at all times throughout the week. Unlike the most common method, there should therefore be around the same amount of production inputs and outputs every day, as graph 2 shows.
Graph 2: Effect of a balanced schedule
A concept with significant impacts :
By using this appointment booking concept, you’ll be able to handle more vehicles each week while maintaining a pleasant working environment and a satisfied customer. Whether you’re using appointment booking software or a simple paper schedule, this model can easily be applied, and you’ll save a great deal of headaches.