Repair scheduling is notoriously difficult in the collision repair business. I think we make it even more difficult than it needs to be. For those of you who are challenged with scheduling, I will address how many repair jobs to schedule each day and then I will offer a couple of ideas on how to make it work.
In the simplest terms—and don’t laugh—scheduling is a matter of bringing in new work at the same pace you are delivering it. In other words, if you deliver 80 cars a month on average, that would be 20 a week. In this case, the best thing to do would be to bring in four a day for a five-day workweek.
You could also look at it in terms of labor hours or dollars. For example, if you want to deliver 100 labor hours a day, you should schedule 100 hours. If you schedule in dollars, you may want to deliver $10,000 a day and bring in $10,000 daily.
You might be thinking, “Dave, this is just common sense.” It seems like that to me too, but I assure you it is not common practice.
Why do so many body shops still schedule a majority of their repair jobs on Mondays and Tuesdays?
When a business does this, it complicates the entire process. You know, as well as I do, that half of the repair jobs brought in on Monday won’t even get touched until Wednesday or Thursday! With an industry average cycle time of around 11 days, I think it is pretty clear that the “in on Monday, out by Friday” mentality isn’t effective.
Many body shops that are attempting to schedule smarter often get frustrated when trying to schedule by adding up labor hours to determine their schedules.
There are a couple of problems with this method of scheduling:
- The hours that are being used to schedule are based on inaccurate repair plans, so they change and cause disruption.
- Second and more importantly, the real problem with most body shop’s scheduling is not the cars they are bringing in as much as the consistency of those cars being delivered on time. (If too many are still being worked on, then the newly scheduled vehicles are just going to get stacked on top of each other.)
Most scheduling systems are only as good as a facility’s ability to properly build repair plans that allow vehicles to go home on time consistently. Once you master the skill of repair planning, which will massively simplify your scheduling efforts, consider bringing in a smarter mix of work.
If you are one of those body shops that bases scheduling on labor hours, what would happen if one train wreck had enough hours on it that it is all you brought in on Monday?
This approach is damaging to flow and ultimately profitability. What you want is all your resources to make money for your business. If you schedule only bumper jobs one day, you will starve your body team. If you only bring in only heavy hits, then you may starve the paint team.
At Elite, we teach clients to use a simple scheduling system using three categories: small, medium and large.
To be successful with scheduling, here are the key takeaways.
- Match your input with your output (good repair planning is a must).
- Minimize your total Work in Progress (WIP) to the minimum amount needed to always have work for your production team.
- Bring in a smarter mix of work through triaging small, medium and large repair jobs.
- Become good at bringing in new jobs every day of the week instead of only on Monday and Tuesday.
For more information about scheduling repairs for maximum profit, consider becoming a member of . Join Operations Monthly LIVE (OML), an online management training program and community of high performers. Here you’ll find hours of world-class training. With a very affordable OML subscription, you can join me live for an hour each month, where you will learn a new, relevant topic and be able to ask questions while interacting with many of North America’s best collision operators. To learn more, subscribe to the Dave Luehr YouTube channel and visit the Elite Body Shop Academy at elitebodyshopsolutions.com/academy.