For those of you that are using your management system to measure your cycle time, congratulations! Too often, collision repair shops don’t measure their shop’s cycle time performance, instead allowing our insurance partners to measure it for us with questionable reliability. Much of the cycle time information that insurers use to measure, and judge you by, is derived from rental car length of rental “LOR.” While this outside information can be useful, you are much better off using detailed cycle time measurements that will contribute to your shop’s continuous improvement.

Cycle time is usually measured in terms of days from vehicle drop off to vehicle pick-up. What has come to be known as “keys to keys.” As I said, knowing your keys to keys cycle time and comparing it against a known standard is helpful to know, but it doesn’t really help you identify specifically where in your system improvement opportunities lie. I want to offer a better way!

Several years ago a friend of mine, industry consultant, Ron Kuehn, showed me a better way that has helped many shops better manage their cycle time measurements. In every computerized management system, there are three separate time segments that you should use in addition to looking at your keys to keys cycle time performance.


From Vehicle In to Start

Use this segment to measure how long it takes to get a vehicle from drop-off to production ready. “Production ready” is your shop’s definition of when the vehicle is ready to flow seamlessly through the body work and refinish stages of production. For most shops that means blueprinting has been completed, full approval from the customer and insurance company has been obtained and all critical parts are on hand. Once this criteria has been met and there is an available technician to work on it, enter the start date. For most shops this time segment averages 1 day (same day) for jobs under $1500, 2 days for $1500-$4000, and 5 days for the heavy hit $4000+ jobs. The overall goal is 3 days on average for all jobs.

From Repairs Started to Repairs Completed

This is the most important segment of time because it is the only segment where anybody makes any money! For that reason, you clearly want to measure this segment of time. You can measure this segment in either days or in hours per day. Things that have the biggest effect on your success or failure while vehicles are in production are things like blueprint accuracy, parts correctness, etc. Top shops will typically produce between 4.0 to 6.0 Hours per day while the vehicle is in the Started to Completed segment.

From Repairs Completed to Vehicle Out

This time segment is probably the most overlooked area of cycle time opportunity. How long does it take you to get rid of the cars when you get them finished? Your management system cycle time reports will also show you how you are performing in this time segment, assuming you are diligent about your date management.

Take control of your cycle time performance by taking a deeper look into the individual areas that affect the overall cycle time performance. As you have heard, you cannot improve what you don’t measure. By viewing your computerized management system’s cycle time report, you can analyze this information, but you have to first be diligent with your date management.

If you would like more information about how you can apply this date management strategy at your shop, please contact me at