Is it a Delivery List or a Wish List?

Is it a Delivery List or a Wish List?

Is it a Delivery List or a Wish List?

Often, excessive Work in Process (too many repair jobs on the property) causes problems throughout the company with missed promise dates, quality defects, stress, etc. Most of the time we have some control over the amount of  WIP that we have through good scheduling techniques, however occasionally, situations occur that increase our WIP levels to a point where production seems to become almost impossible to properly manage. Hail storms and other natural disasters force us to quickly create processes that will deal with this excess. The article today is about creating a sane way to manage production when we have too much work. It is simply a technique that you may find useful in reducing the level of stress and becoming more focused on actually delivering the vehicles that are on your list. This same technique can also be equally beneficial when managing a normal amount of WIP too.

Look at your delivery list today, how many vehicles are scheduled to go home today? Twenty? Really? Let me ask you this question then….when is the last time you actually delivered 20 cars in one day? Not very often I bet! I appreciate the effort and the optimism to put all twenty on the list for today, but come on, the problems we are creating by doing this is fairly substantial. We can still be very aggressive on meeting our sales goals without creating the following list of problems caused by an unrealistic delivery list…..

  • Impossible to properly focus on all twenty jobs
  • High percentage of missed promises with customer
  • Increase in quality defects
  • Increase in process defects
  • Bottlenecks form
  • Flow decreases
  • CSI suffers
  • Cycle time suffers
  • Late customer notification (lack of confidence of successful completion)
  • No-one feels sense of accomplishment

Laser Focus

The reason we must have a realistic delivery list is that the team must become laser focused on making sure all the repair jobs on the list go home! When you are able to identify which cars should be on your list based on promises to the customer, parts on hand, stage of repairs, etc. you need to create your aggressive, yet realistic list either the morning of or the previous afternoon. It should require a little extra thought and time to create this list because it forces you to answer questions.

  • Do I have or will I (FOR SURE) have all the parts I need to assemble today?
  • Will the paint work be done no later than noon today?
  • Will there be a reasonable amount of time left to assemble today?
  • Are all the sublets either done or scheduled?
  • Are there any Malfunction Indicator Lamps present on the instrument panel?
  • What are the chances we will discover additional suspension problems once the alignment is attempted?
  • Has the repair quality been inspected or are there still unresolved issues that could sneak up on us?
  • Have 100% of the parts been painted prior to assembly?
  • Do we have the capacity to assemble this many cars today?
  • Do we have the capacity to detail this many cars today?
  • If we shift our resources in order to accomplish today’s list, what will it do to the shop’s flow tomorrow and the next day? Will bottlenecks/delays form in other departments?

If you can’t properly answer all of these questions on a repair job, the job probably shouldn’t be on the list to go home today. If a job is not on the list for today but we get it done today anyway…yeah for us! The idea is that we place the right amount of effort on all jobs in the system, but we place extra focus (laser focus!) on the jobs going home today. This list MUST get done…no exceptions! (And no sandbagging either!)


Most of you reading this have certainly heard me talk about creating a “flow” through the shop. An example of the perfect fiction scenario would be 8 cars coming in every day, 8 cars going through blueprint, body, paint, assembly, etc., and 8 cars going home every day. In the real world, it never works out that way exactly, but we try to move as close to that scenario as we possibly can in order to be a world class production shop. If on a particular day we decide that we want to send 20 jobs home, consider for a moment what happens to our departmental resources as we start to approach 5 o’clock in the afternoon. Is that our Blueprint team over there assembling cars? Why are there 10 guys over there washing cars? Do you think any mistakes might happen? HMMMMM?

Look I know I will probably get scolded from the big boss for advocating the previous paragraph, but I know as well as anyone that sometimes, we all need to jump in and help out where it’s needed the most. I totally get that! I am just pointing out the fact that we create these huge influxes of work through certain departments ourselves, usually because of poor scheduling and/or unrealistic delivery lists that take our focus off of the jobs that should be going home today. It’s like watching a snake digest an elephant!

Some tips on creating the perfect list

I have been doing this production management stuff for a long time. I have learned from some of the best people in the industry the best ways to get cars through the shop quickly and with less pain. Here are a few things I have learned and want to pass along.

  • Print a list of ROs and do a shop “walk-through” preferably early in the morning or late in the previous afternoon
  • Make notes on your printed list to remind you of questions (when will belt molding be here)
  • Use the parts received % indicator on the CCC One Production Schedule Dashboard to prompt you to inquire on missing parts (on your delivery list you will want to look at every RO that is not 100% prior to committing it to today’s list)
  • Ask the parts coordinator to assist you answering the missing parts questions or advise them to make detailed notes in the system for you
  • Get sublets done early as possible to uncover potential problems on delivery day
  • Make an effort to check on all missing parts, sublets, stripes etc. just prior to vehicle entering paint department
  • The technicians will only start to take your delivery list seriously when it becomes realistic
  • Everyone can celebrate and feel good about when the delivery list is COMPLETE!
  • Try to sequence the daily list in the order you want the jobs completed
  • Use department capacities to help determine delivery date feasibility (see paragraph below)
  • Provide an accurate delivery list for your morning meeting
  • During your morning release meeting set actual times with your team that customers can expect to pick up their vehicles
  • Call the customers on today’s list and notify them that you expect to have their repairs done today at a certain time and you will call them again to confirm when ready
  • Make sure they get done on time!

Bonus Trick – Department Capacity Scheduling

A neat trick to determine delivery dates in advance is to pay more attention to your bottleneck capacity. In other words, if you have 20 ROs in process and your paint shop can consistently process 5 a day, you can decide what order to paint them, make sure they get painted, and your final delivery list pretty must creates itself assuming you have done a good job with blueprinting, parts etc. (A whole other article) The real trick to making this technique work is making sure that your painters do not run out of work and they always get at least 5 (or your magic number) ROs done before they go home each day. The best way to do this trick is by creating a new paint list each day for the following two days. If your paint shop can handle 5 a day, put 5 or 6 on their list (sequenced in the order you decide) for today and then create a more vague list of the 5 cars you want painted the following day. Make sure the body team knows when they are expected to deliver these ROs to the paint shop.

When you run production using your paint shop as the guide, you guide your decisions on what they are able to produce and all other departments become subservient to making sure the paint shop gets cars on time in a steady flow. If your team has done a good job identifying damage, managing parts and sublet, you should be able to GUARANTEE the customer an accurate delivery day AND time just prior to paint! Scary thought eh? You don’t have to believe me, but I guarantee it does work. This level of production management is being done at world class shops around the world quite successfully. Great production management does not take a lot of extra time, it takes just takes discipline. It takes a strong commitment to yourself and your company that you want to be the best and are willing to put forth the up-front effort it requires to produce the results!

About the Author:

Dave Luehr
Dave shares his experience from over 30 years as a collision repair industry leader in leadership, lean and Theory of Constraints. Once the owner of a body shop himself, Dave draws on the realities of a real world collision repair shop in his consulting, writing and keynote speeches.

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