Our benchmarking services and industry expertise enable us to assess your recent performance, both financial and non-financial, and to zoom in on the areas that are critical to your future success.
Our business review broadens this assessment to include input from your staff through questionnaires and interviews. This allows us to better understand the culture of your organization and how it produces results. This, in turn, enables us to refine our recommendations for your future success.
It’s an accepted fact in business that ‘if you aren’t moving forward, you’re moving backward.’ What you are doing now and how you are doing it are unlikely to be the things necessary to ensure success in the future.
Working with you through our Strategic Process, we enable you to visualize a better tomorrow for your business and develop a plan to realize that future. We then work with you to make sure that the plan is implemented, and the desired outcomes are achieved.
As with nearly all our engagements, we would begin this one using our Strategic Process to ensure we understood what success is in this situation (i.e., how much more money is needed or wanted?). Beginning from that point, we would attempt to determine what is currently hindering the profitability of the organization: too few sales; low gross margins; excessive overhead; ineffective production; underpricing; high receivables; etc. Our recommendations and implementation plan would be dependent upon what we find in assessing the current situation.
Beginning with our Strategic Process, we would strive to understand why you wanted to open another location and how this would help you realize the success you desire. Once opening another location is a key element for your success, there are several services that we could provide to facilitate this expansion. The Market Analysis is one of those services.
Our Market Analysis provides you with demographic and socio-economic information about the market(s) you are considering. This analysis enables you to form a clear understanding of the size and quality of the potential market as well as the customers that you would likely be serving in the market. In addition, the analysis provides information regarding the number and location of competitors and categorizes them by their sales volume. With this market analysis, you are equipped to avoid markets that are not appealing and to hit the ground running in your chosen market.
Frequently we met customers who want to jump increasing or changing their marketing to answer this question. We don’t start there. Instead, we recognize that sales are often limited by factors other than the traffic coming through the door.
With our Sales Analysis, we consider these other factors and make recommendations for minimizing their negative impact on sales. If further sales increases are desired, we then consider various options for improving your marketing efforts. In this process, we rely upon an ever-growing list of marketing activities that we have created through interactions with numerous businesses. Our recommendations are customized to your business, so a viable marketing plan can be implemented effectively.
This question is such a common one that we have devoted several resources to provide solutions for our customers. Our efforts in this area began with our development and release in 2002 of the only U.S. patented workflow leveling system in the industry…CR Auto Scheduler®.
Since then, we have incorporated elements from the Theory of Constraints, lean manufacturing (also known as the Toyota Production System), and Six Sigma into our offerings.
The Accelerated Cycle Time™ (ACT) program guides our clients as they answer twelve key questions that provide direction for their cycle time improvement efforts.
Our Cycle Time Coach service offers clients the option of working directly with one of our consultants to drive the cycle time improvements within your business.
Our Cycle Time Forum is a community of individuals and companies which are interested in cycle time improvement. Questions and responses, articles, surveys, and other information pertaining to cycle time are hosted here.
With the recent discussions about the Theory of Constraints, lean manufacturing, and Six Sigma, among other philosophies, interest has perhaps never been higher in becoming more efficient as a business. When this is coupled with the ever-increasing demands for greater performance, that interest moves toward necessity.
At Collision Resources, we emphasize the importance of continuously improving. And while we have extensive knowledge of these various improvement philosophies and have even incorporated many of their ideas and concepts into our offerings, we do not assume that any of them will exactly meet your needs. At Collision Resources, our goal is not to turn your business into a model for Theory of Constraints, or lean, or Six Sigma. Our goal is to make you successful.
We will follow our tried and true consulting process to ensure your success. As always, we will begin with your definition of success and, only then, determine whether one or more of these philosophies is suitable for your situation. If implementing one or more of these philosophies, or elements of these philosophies, within your business will further your success, we will gladly embrace and recommend these to you.
CR Auto Scheduler® offers three scheduling options for each vehicle. These options are determined by ‘filtering’ out dates that would not allow the schedule to remain balanced. Example of the filters would include:
a. Is there a drop-off slot open for this size job?
b. Is there capacity available on this date to bring in this job?
c. Is there capacity available during the week to bring in this job?
d. Is there a delivery slot open for this job on the expected delivery date? The first three dates that pass through each of these filters successfully for a specific job will be returned by the program as the scheduling options.
Through the Facility Wizard, you may input the values that are used to determine the number of vehicles scheduled for a week.
These inputs are used to:
a. Determine the booked hours required weekly to achieve the sales goal.
b. Allocate these hours to the various size categories.
c. Determine the number of vehicles that could be repaired with these allocated hours in each size category.
Yes. Your sales goal is considered when CR Auto Scheduler® establishes your schedule. The sales goal is a variable entered by you through the Facility Wizard. This directly impacts the number of booked hours required to be produced each week. This number of booked hours directly impacts the schedule that is established (see #2 above).
CR Auto Scheduler® considers your staffing indirectly when establishing your schedule.
As information is updated in the Facility Wizard, the program determines the number of hours that need to be booked each week in order for the collision repair center to achieve the sales goal. You would be asked during this process whether the facility can produce that number of hours. In answering this question, you may consider the staffing level. If you indicate that it is possible to produce the required number of hours, then the program will create your schedule. If you indicate that it is not possible, perhaps due to the staffing level, then the program will require you to revise your sales goal or other inputs. The program will only allow you to proceed and create a schedule for your collision repair center if you indicate that the facility can produce the hours required. With this question asked during the Facility Wizard process, the program does indirectly consider staffing. There is a significant advantage to you, the user, of handling the staffing issue indirectly…less maintenance required to keep the schedule functioning properly. If the program handled staffing directly, the user would likely be required to enter all of the staff along with their efficiencies and normal hours worked into the program. Thus, data entry would be required every time an employee is fired, quits, is hired, becomes more productive, becomes less productive, or change the hours of their normal work week. By handling this process indirectly, CR Auto Scheduler® users only need to update one number, their sales goal, when staffing levels change. If the staffing change does not alter the ability of the collision repair center to produce work (e.g., replacing one metal technician with an equally productive technician), no data entry is required.
CR Auto Scheduler® does consider holidays and employee vacations when scheduling. The following holidays are included by default in CR Auto Scheduler®: New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. You may add additional non-production days in Company Options. You may also change a non-production day back into a production day in Company Options. If your capacity to produce work is expected to drop temporarily due to an employee vacation or other reason, the capacity can be decreased in Capacity Adjustments. Here you may select dates on which to decrease your drop-off capacity or your delivery capacity. Decreasing your drop-off capacity will lower the amount of work that will be scheduled for your facility. Decreasing your delivery capacity will lower the number of delivery ‘slots’ available on the dates selected.
When an estimator writes an estimate or receives one that has been written by an insurance company, the estimate frequently does not include all the hours required to repair the vehicle. If these supplemental hours are not considered when work is scheduled, a collision repair center could bring in much more work than they can produce. This would lead to poorer cycle times and customer satisfaction levels as vehicles sit around without being worked on. When scheduling a repair, CR Auto Scheduler® increases the estimated hours by a supplement factor that is provided by the user in the Facility Wizard. For instance, if a supplement factor of 20% is entered, then an estimate with 10 hours would be scheduled as a 12-hour job (10 hours x 120%). This ensures that the facility is not overscheduled as a result of failure to consider supplements.
Users of CR Auto Scheduler Plus® and CR Auto Scheduler ME® benefit from the ability of the program to ‘learn’ from the supplement experience of the collision repair center. Because a collision repair center may have a different supplement experience with small versus large jobs or with Allstate versus State Farm jobs, these programs will calculate the average supplements that the facility has experienced with jobs of various sizes and payment sources. These programs will then use these calculated supplemental factors when scheduling jobs.
For instance, when scheduling a small State Farm job, these programs will use the supplement experience on recently completed State Farm jobs that were small. Likewise, when scheduling a large Allstate job, they will use the supplement experience on recently completed Allstate jobs that were large.
By using supplemental factors based upon the experience of the facility with jobs of various sizes and payment sources, these programs can more accurately estimate the size of supplements on jobs being scheduled. This enables a collision repair center to more effectively schedule work that utilizes its capacity without over or under scheduling.
By balancing the number of vehicles throughout the week, CR Auto Scheduler® creates a consistent work-in-process. This consistency enables the production departments in the facility to have a sufficient amount of work on each day of the week. It also eliminates times during the week when certain departments are unemployed. For instance, many facilities require their detail departments to work overtime on Thursday or Friday while the detailers have few if any vehicles to detail early in the week. The consistent workflow generated by CR Auto Scheduler® enables the collision repair center to produce more work with their existing staff. This consistency also minimizes the number of vehicles on-site. In a typical ‘in on Monday – out on Friday’ scenario, a facility will have significantly more vehicles on-site during the early and middle part of the week than at the end. For these extra vehicles, the collision repair center would also have to store parts. These vehicles and parts only serve to clutter the facility lowering the productivity. Also, greater burdens are placed upon the non-production staff with the increased paperwork and customers to communicate with from the extra vehicles. These problems are minimized by CR Auto Scheduler® by balancing the number of vehicles throughout the week.
By considering the expected delivery date, CR Auto Scheduler® is able to effectively balance the flow of work through the facility. By ensuring that a collision repair center has vehicles being dropped off for repair as well as other vehicles being delivered back to the customers each day, CR Auto Scheduler® creates a consistent work-in-process for the facility. Some of the advantages of this consistency are discussed in #7 above.
By employing effective scheduling methods, a collision center is likely to improve their cycle time, customer satisfaction levels, and profitability. The traditional ‘in on Monday – out on Friday’ approach to scheduling causes a myriad of problems for the collision center. Among these problems are:
- Cycle times lengthened due to vehicles sitting around for several days before entering production because too many vehicles were dropped off at once;
- Reduced productivity caused by vehicles, and their associated parts, cluttering the facility while not being worked on;
- Reduced quality as vehicles are ‘rushed’ to delivery towards the end of the week;
- Customer satisfaction levels dropping due to reduced quality and missed delivery dates resulting from vehicles sitting for days without being worked on;
- Rental car costs increased as shops pay for vehicles when delivery dates are missed;
- Increased stress on employees, both production and non-production, early and late in the week;
Many of these problems can be minimized through effective scheduling. And while many articles have been written and classes have been taught on how to improve the scheduling of work through a collision repair facility, implementation has been virtually impossible.
Effective scheduling must be handled using a computer program primarily for consistency. Without consistency, any scheduling effort will completely fail.
By implementing CR Auto Scheduler®, a collision repair center can ensure that each estimator has access to the same schedule and is scheduling work ‘following the rules’. Paper systems are consistently thwarted by estimators squeezing 1 or 2 or 6 additional jobs into the schedule for Monday. As a result, each week starts having already been set up for failure.
Also, CR Auto Scheduler® can consistently, and nearly instantaneously, perform the ‘thinking’ required to schedule effectively. It can consider the amount of work already scheduled for a particular date or week when providing scheduling options. It can consider whether a mix of work is being brought in as well as a reasonable number of hours. It can adjust the estimated hours by a supplemental factor to better approximate the true size of the job. It can estimate when the vehicle will be ready for delivery and consider the number of vehicles already slated for delivery that day. It can adjust for holidays, vacations, or other variations to the normal work week and capacity levels. It can even provide multiple scheduling options, each of which will maintain the integrity of the schedule, which can be offered for the customer’s convenience. CR Auto Scheduler® can do all of these things and more and do them quickly.
It is no wonder that paper systems fail when they require our estimators to consider these things and quickly provide a scheduling option to the customer. Most effective estimators are interested in closing the sale and moving on to close the next sale. When we ask them to invest more than a few moments in determining the best scheduling option, is it surprising that they quickly revert to primarily offering Mondays?
Implementation is required to obtain the benefits of effective scheduling such as improved cycle times, customer satisfaction levels, and profitability. CR Auto Scheduler® is necessary for the implementation to be consistent and effective.
CR Auto Scheduler® was designed to work on either a network or a single workstation. It was also designed to support the simultaneous use of the program by multiple users. This means that in a facility with a network, each workstation connected to the server can be used to access CR Auto Scheduler®. In addition, users at different workstations can be using the program at the same time. Not only can multiple estimators be using the program to schedule jobs at the same time, but the production manager, receptionist and owner could also be reviewing the schedule or printing reports at the same time.
CR Auto Scheduler ME® was designed for collision repair centers with multiple locations that are networked through a WAN or the internet. This program will allow users from each of the separate locations to work in the program simultaneously. In addition, when scheduling a particular job, estimators can request the scheduling options for other locations as well as the one in which they are located. For instance: A customer at Location A indicates that it would be more convenient for her to drop off her vehicle at Location B. The estimator at Location A can schedule the repair into Location B without leaving their desk or calling Location B. The Location B scheduling options that CR Auto Scheduler ME® provides to the estimator for that job will be the same options that an estimator in Location B would have been given had he attempted to schedule the same job.
CR Auto Scheduler ME® was designed for collision repair centers with multiple locations that are networked through a WAN or the internet. This program will allow users from each of the separate locations to work in the program simultaneously. In addition, when scheduling a particular job, estimators can request the scheduling options for other locations as well as the one in which they are located. Because CR Auto Scheduler ME® can return scheduling options for multiple facilities, an estimator can encourage the customer to have the vehicle repaired at the location with the first opportunity to work on the vehicle. Done consistently, a collision repair organization with multiple facilities could ‘load-level’ the work across their stores using CR Auto Scheduler ME®.
CR Auto Scheduler® Plus and CR Auto Scheduler® ME consider the payment source when scheduling jobs because the payment source can have a significant impact upon the flow of the job through a facility. Jobs that have different payment sources may be expected to have vastly different supplement levels. A collision center may have an agreement with a fleet that limits the number of supplements. They may schedule repairs on vehicles for which an insurance company encourages customers to have the initial estimate written by a claim center. They may have DRP relationships with other insurance companies that allow the collision center to write their own estimate. The relationship between the collision center and the payment source can impact the magnitude of the expected supplement. By taking into account these differences in the expected supplement, CR Auto Scheduler® Plus and CR Auto Scheduler® ME can more effectively schedule repairs. Similarly, work from different payment sources can have vastly different cycle times, even when the repairs are nearly identical. A collision center may be able to continue on a repair until completion without interruption on DRP jobs. The same collision center may have to wait several days for an adjuster to come to the shop to authorize the repairs on a non-DRP job. The differences in the cycle times must be considered at the time of scheduling if the work-in-process for the collision center is to be controlled. By taking into account these differences in the cycle times, CR Auto Scheduler® Plus and CR Auto Scheduler® ME can more effectively schedule repairs.