Cycle Time Not Just for Collision MembersPosted 2/15/2006
By Denny Kahler, AAM
ASA has two divisions: the Collision Division and the Mechanical Division. Each division has its own trade show and training seminars during Industry Week in Las Vegas and participates in other venues across the country. During the past few years, serving on the ASA board of directors, I have attended countless training seminars in both divisions. One term that is constantly heard during collision events, but not mechanical events, is cycle time.
Shop cycle time is measured from the time the car first arrives at the repair facility to the time the repairs are completed and the customer is notified that the vehicle is ready for pickup. Do not confuse cycle time with repair time. Repair time is the time the technician spends repairing the vehicle. Cycle time encompasses the complete administrative and repair process. Collision shops participating in direct repair programs (DRPs) for insurance companies are very aware of cycle time. Insurance companies want to work with shops that have the lowest possible cycle time. Faster turn around times save the insurance companies and repair shops a substantial amount of money, resulting in higher profits for both. Minimizing the time a vehicle is in the shop creates less rental car expense, faster claims payment, less potential for additional damage to the vehicle to occur and greater customer satisfaction. Faster cycle time is a win-win for the insurers, vehicle owners and repair facility. In the collision business, you need to constantly monitor your cycle time and improve it at every opportunity.
While attending mechanical meetings and training, I do not recall anyone addressing cycle time in mechanical shops. Are mechanical shops missing an important resource to improving profits and customer satisfaction?
Before writing this article, I contacted six shop owners and ASA members in my 20 Group and asked each of them if he knew what cycle time is. I received varied answers including one owner who said, "That's how long the parts washer runs when cleaning parts." No one related it to the repair process time.
I then contacted a moderator of 20 Groups for independent repair and dealership shops. He knew of collision shops tracking cycle time but no aftermarket or dealer repair shops. A quick review of several shop management systems also revealed no systems tracking full repair process time.
Lowering cycle time will increase profits. Tracking cycle time is a test of your complete operation. Every member of your team can contribute to its improvement. Your service writer, dispatcher, technicians, parts personnel, porters, cleanup personnel and office staff all contribute. Customer satisfaction will increase when their vehicle is processed quicker, saving them time and possible rental car expenses. After explaining cycle time to one of the shop owners I contacted, he said, "I never thought of it before but I am going to start tracking and improving it tomorrow."
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