Improving workflow through I-CAR training and OE certifications pays off at Regal
Vallejo, Calif.—Jim Boyle, who co-owns Regal Collision Repair with his wife, Shellie, said working in a collision shop requires effectively balancing chaos with production, and to be successful, it takes training, teamwork and community involvement.
“Proper staging and communication are vital to successfully driving low cycle times,” Boyle said. “For instance, a technician should always know what he can work on next. If he has to consult a list to find a car to work on, it adds to the chaos. Part of what we’ve done to keep our cycle times low is use the car to communicate a message, with different colored signs showing exactly where the car is in the repair process.”
It’s a process Boyle said starts at the front door. The minute a customer walks into the shop and hands over their keys, the clock starts ticking.
“The last thing someone wants to hear after they’ve crashed their car is ‘Take this clipboard and go fill out this form,’” Boyle said. “If you earn your customer’s trust that first day, it prevents hindrances in the repair process later. I’ve hired a ‘director of first impressions’ – a greeter whose job is to gain the trust of every customer who comes in, and make them feel comfortable leaving their car with us.”
Follow-through is every bit as important. A quality repair is ultimately what the customer expects, he said, and Regal Collision has worked to stay trained and equipped in order to provide that.
The 10,000-square-foot shop, which employs 15 people, is I-CAR Gold Class-designated. Boyle said his technicians and estimators attend I-CAR training regularly, and the shop is also a member of the Assured Performance Network and is OE-certified by Nissan, Infiniti, Hyundai, Mopar, Ford and GM.
“Being OE-certified gives our customers a better value, which justifies the cost. If all things are the same, in a toss-up between your shop and another, OE certifications are going to earn a customer’s business,” Boyle said.
Another vital resource for training has been the shop’s relationship with AkzoNobel.
“AkzoNobel has been an excellent partner for us,” Boyle said. “Jeff Baker, their business development manager, has worked with us in-house and regularly conducts team-building and communication training exercises to help us increase productivity. Any questions we might have, we know who to call, and we don’t take that for granted.”
The shop recently switched to using CCC One’s estimating system, which Boyle said has helped decrease cycle times. “One of the best perks has been that if we lose our Internet connection, we don’t lose an estimate we worked to prepare,” Boyle said.
The shop’s staple DRP is State Farm, which provides much of the day-to-day workload and also has helped Regal get the most out of its relationship with Enterprise Rent-A-Car. He added that being in the Assured Performance Network also has helped reinforce the shops strong ties with Enterprise.
“As a single shop operator, I don’t have nearly the buying power that an MSO does. But because we do so much work with State Farm, and we’re in the Assured Performance Network, we’re able to provide our customers with exceptional rental rates through Enterprise, which has been a great company to work with. We have an Enterprise rep in-house who stages rentals right on our facility,” Boyle said.
Staying active in the community and developing relationships with local mechanical shops has been beneficial for the shop, Boyle said, as has being a part of the California Auto Body Association (CAA). Boyle is a past president of the East Bay chapter of the CAA. He said involvement in the association was one of the most important things he did to help his business.
The shop participates in the AkzoNobel Benevolence Program, giving away cars to less-fortunate families in the community. Also, Boyle sits on the advisory committee at Contra Costa College, where he works to recruit young technicians and advises on program curriculum.
“Finding qualified technicians has always been the biggest struggle of operating this business,” Boyle said. “I now typically only hire a trainee or apprentice if they’ve completed an automotive program from Contra Costa College. I think staying involved with the local automotive programs is vital to finding young guys to work in your shop.”
Over the past year, Boyle said AkzoNobel has assisted him with the interior design of a new, 15,000-square-foot shop he plans to build within the next year. He has purchased a three-acre piece of property and hired a civil engineer, architect, landscape architect, attorney and structural engineer to build the facility from the ground up.
“The new shop’s interior was designed almost 100 percent by AkzoNobel,” Boyle said. “Rick Farnen came out and interviewed me and made sure that not only my business philosophy, but also the inside of my shop would be set up to decrease waste and increase flow.”