Auto body shops are always looking for ways to increase their profits without sacrificing the quality of their work. From using UV technology to fast-dry refinish systems to training technicians on how to work smarter, there are many ways to save money and reduce downtime. By implementing these strategies, auto body shops can increase their bottom line while still delivering high-quality repairs to their customers.
As silly as it sounds, fast refinishing systems would be one of my favourite technologies and I think they massively improve the workflow on the shop floor; I also think they’re being abused by technicians. Regarding work from other shops coming into our shop for re-work; I’m seeing an awful lot of vehicles that have been rushed and the paint fails down the line. Fast refinish systems are great when they’re used properly but from being at the Automechanika UK Garage Bodyshop Event in 2022 I heard from an alarming number of technicians that are rushing these systems by not adhering to flash-off times/bake times/polishing them while the paint is still hot after bake and then complaining that the products don’t work as advertised. The products massively improve efficiency and with lower bake temperatures or quicker air-dry times when used correctly but like anything; if abused they’re going to cause you more problems.
Naturally, as it’s been said before, I believe that for the skill levels of the jobs within the sector, they need to have a higher wage. However, in order to do this body shops need to be pushing for a higher hourly rate from insurance companies and other contracts. This is a topic that’s never off my LinkedIn feed and so many people/bodyshops are trying this but obviously, it needs to be an industry-wide effort. As technicians and managers we need to work smarter and be less wasteful on products, keep up on maintenance in the workshop to prevent higher running costs (eg: fixing air leaks to prevent the compressor from constantly running) and invest in training to become more efficient and help prevent more mistakes from happening.
Other than a very strong coffee first thing in the morning; I think my top 2 favourite things to help me be productive and efficient would have to be UV technologies and fast dry refinish systems. Regarding UV technology, we have the Sikkens UV Autosurfacer in our workshop paired with the Symach
UVA-LEDtronic wand which is ideal for sealing in small to medium-sized repairs and allows us a faster turnover on jobs through the workshop without compromising on quality or risking repair sinkage in order to shave a few minutes off prep time! Moving on to fast refinish systems there is pretty much a fast-dry system for every paint manufacturer now but my go-to is definitely the Silco SFR Range. This consists of a 2k filler, a 15-minute air-dry primer, and a 1hr air-dry clear coat. I find that using this range cuts down on the length of time the spray booth is running therefore reducing running costs, also with the 1hr air dry clear coat I can paint a job and by the time I have the next job prepped and ready for paint, the previous job is ready to come out of the booth.
In regard to keeping costs down; something that we do in our workshop to help save money on materials is having a bucket of part-used sandpaper/scotch pads and we try to use that up before picking up something new. We also keep the leftover base coat in containers by colour (eg: Red/Black/Blue/White) to use as build-up so that we need to mix less basecoat and less is getting thrown out as paint costs are also on the rise. An idea going forward is training technicians on how to work smarter and more efficiently; for example, paint companies provide training to technicians on how to properly use the products as they could be losing time on parts of the system that could be used more effectively. This is something I’ve only ever seen bigger shops get the opportunity to do and it’s maybe worthwhile for smaller body shops who are using the same systems to come together and invest in training as a collective in order to reduce downtime and save money.
Owner – Paint by Rach