Fix Auto Anaheim North opens ‘shop of tomorrow’ to handle heavy hits
Anaheim, Calif.—Fix Auto Anaheim North opened the doors of its 20,350-square-foot specialized collision services center just four months ago, after a two-year, $1.6 million complete remodel of the Anaheim landmark building, built in 1918, and it’s already changing the way people see a body shop.
“I’ve been in the collision repair business for more than 42 years,” owner David Caulfield said. “My career has included employment in all skill sets offered in the collision repair industry, and I have owned several innovative repair locations since 1988 – but not like this one with strategic innovations that are changing the way customers are served and repairs are processed.”
Caulfield said the collision repair center was designed and constructed from the ground up to meet today’s changing market conditions to focus on higher-risk claims, or “heavy hits,” as well as implementing a segmented repair model.
“When I decided to open Fix Auto Anaheim North, I knew a complete transformation was needed for it to become the first-of-its-kind repair shop by reinventing the production line and bringing a segmented skill sets repair model to the collision repair business.”
Caulfield also invested an additional $1.1 million in the latest tools and equipment, including two Car-O-Liner BenchRack 5000s, a Car-O-Tronic Classic computerized measuring system, and a CTR7 Inverter welder, all from Pacific Collision Equipment; plus a Hunter Hawkeye alignment system, a Pro-Spot resistance welder, and a GYSPOT dent puller.
The shop also has four Hercules in-ground lifts, two CL Challenger 15000 two-post lifts, two curtained prep stations, tool boxes at every station with the appropriate tools for the processes performed at that station, and two MDI drive-through down-draft spray booths with electric roll-up doors.
A computerized mixing system is used to formulate Axalta’s Spies Hecker paint, which Caulfield buys from Brian Renshaw at FinishMaster.
“Brian and the team at Axalta are a stand-up group of professionals that are always on call for tips, education, and resources under any circumstance,” Caulfield said.
The entire shop floor is covered in interlocking rubber tiles that are more comfortable to walk and stand on, can be replaced individually if one is damaged, and are scrubbed clean several times a day with the shop’s “Zamboni” and its fulltime property and equipment upkeep team.
The most innovative and unique feature of the shop is the proprietary rail system that allows even the most heavily damaged vehicles to be moved from one repair station to the next without using floor jacks or car dollies.
“The vehicle starts at estimating, using Mitchell and CCC, then moves to disassembly, where damaged and needed parts are entered in the computer via a 70-inch touch-screen monitor, then on to mechanical, structural, cutting, fitting, welding, metal smithing, fillers, sealers, and caulking, then to paint prep, and finally the paint booth.”
Deviating from the staffing norm, Caulfield had meetings with potential technicians focusing on the goals of the shop for several months before he selected, employed, and assigned individual technicians, accountable for just their repair segment of the repair process.
“This skill-specific model assures sustainable and successful new entries into the trade. The technician of tomorrow can become an expert in any of the various procedures from disassembly to reassembly within 12 months,” he said. “They will become experts in their fields via uninterrupted focus, training, and the process of repetition.
“Implementing such a dramatic change, compensation plans, traditional thinking, human behavior, and one’s outlook has to be reinvented. We are doing just that.”
Caulfield said that during the first 60 working days in business the shop earned a 5-star Carwise rating, and produced nearly $400,000 in revenues. Average claims on the heavier impacted vehicles resulted in severities averaging $3,909 with a cycle time performance of 3.8 days.
“Thanks to specific systems and processes, as well as workflow management, proper tooling, and a highly skilled team, we are performing better, faster, and for less, compared to the industry average repair KPIs.”
On average, vehicles were produced at the rate of nearly 10.8 hours per day. The shop’s goal is five to seven cycle days on the average repair of $5,500 requiring welding and or structural repairs.
Caulfield also shares his experiences with shop owners and managers across the country, promotes the importance of growth and education, and has designed software programs specifically for the improvement of process, efficiency, quality and customer service including founding UpdatePromise.com now known as CCC UpdatePlus and his latest invention, myQCiQ.com.
“This shop is forging a path unique unto itself and solves many of the challenges our industry faces today,” Caulfield said. “Opening this location on Fix Auto USA’s platform gave me great comfort that it would be well received on a national scale.