Nowadays, when clients always want to have their cars fixed as soon as possible, concepts such as efficiency, productivity or organization become more important, and must be taken into account when developing the garage’s activity. The combination of these concepts with the current technology regarding products, equipment, and tools that speed up the cycle time, favor the development of quick bodywork repair services. It is an attractive activity both for the garage and the insurance company, as well as the client.
Smart Repair, Express Repair, Spot Repair, Speed Repair, Fast Repair, Fast Track… are many of the names that refer to “quick” repairs, even though not all of them refer exactly to the same concept, since there are differences amongst them.
On one hand, Spot Repair is a technique used for quick paint jobs and specific to isolated damage, very small, in which the repair area is limited exclusively to the damaged area, without applying varnish or polish to the whole part, nor removing it from the vehicle. On the other hand, Smart Repair (Smart not as in ‘intelligent’, but ‘Small to Medium Area Repair Technology’) is a fast service which includes the Spot Repair technique and also includes other processes, but is limited to repairs in which the garage can return the vehicle to the client within 24 hours since its reception.
What does this service imply?
24h return. This is the main characteristic of these services, which limits repairs to 2-3 parts and about 5 hours of labor at the most, taking into account that the standard working day of a garage is established at 8 hours.
From the garage’s point of view, incorporating this service would mean a larger flow of vehicles, bigger yield for its resources and improving productivity and competitiveness, in addition to increased client satisfaction. Another important advantage of these types of services is that substitution or courtesy vehicles are not usually provided, unless the due return deadline cannot be met, which makes this fleet available for the rest of repairs.
Fixed quote. This service has to offer a clear, firm, and definitive quote before accepting the vehicle. This requires a previous evaluation that will also help determine if a Smart Repair can be performed or not. Since we are talking about small damages, usually there are no changes between the initial and final assessments. In these cases, the self-evaluation or off-site estimation of damages by the garage speeds up the process.
Planning. It is fundamental to meet the due return period. The garage must have the open slots to service these types of repairs, taking into account the workload for these repairs. In the case of parts’ substitution or estimation of damage by the insurance company, an appointment with the client will be scheduled. This way, the garage will have the needed part available and the visit by the damage estimation expert will be scheduled for the same day of the repair.
Quality warranty. This service would not make any sense if not supported by a quality warranty. This way, the products, equipment, and repair methods must not only shorten the repair cycles, but also accomplish quality repairs.
What operations can be done?
Taking into account the 24h or less service commitment, the replacement of removable parts (those that can be easily removed and installed, whether external or inside the vehicle) can be included in this service; as well as the repair and paint of external body parts, including plastics (depending on the number of parts, its size, damage extent, and also if there are other plastic pieces affected).
Other operations that can be included are polishing (to eliminate imperfections, superficial scratches or restoring the finishing of a part or the whole vehicle —depending on the condition of the paint—), restoration of lamps or rims, upholstery and dashboard repair (for those garages that perform these operations), and some more, in addition to the mentioned “Spot Repair”.
How does it affect the organization of the garage?
Smart Repair services begin with an adaptation of the garage’s resources, that is, getting ready to offer a differentiated work line and also having the staff, tools, and products that allow meeting the deadlines. Organization is also key, as it minimizes improductive periods, accelerates the repair process, and speeds up the paperwork with the insurance company and with parts suppliers.
Likewise, for Smart Repair to work properly, the staff must get involved and know their roles, because the job begins with the reception and evaluation of the accident or damage, determining if it can be sent to a Smart Repair service or not.
Technicians must be versatile. They also have to be properly trained and know the repair techniques, the products, equipment, and tools necessary to reduce the processing times with a high quality finish.
Lastly, the garage manager, in charge of organizing, has to know how to plan for the work and carry out the final quality inspection.
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