What’s keeping body shop owners awake at night? And how many of them could cure their worrisome insomnia with a body shop quality control checklist? Let’s look at the problem and some remedies.
In 2022, FenderBender magazine identified the biggest challenges facing the industry and ranked them in this order:
- Qualified technicians shortage
- Low labor rates
- Insurer influence on the collision repair process
- Rising costs
- Vehicle design advancements and tools needed to keep pace
- Inconsistent repair standards
- Training requirements
- Parts choices (OEM versus aftermarket)
Overall, most shop owners answered “All of the above!” As body shops rely more on data to track relevant trends and costs, checklists become a powerful tool. After all, they ensure quality control in the midst of all these pressures.
Now, let’s look at some tips for auto body shops to enhance their quality control processes. They can put your mind at ease and add to your profits.
The Value of Quality Control in Auto Body Shops
If you don’t have a process that finds mistakes, who discovers them? Clients! Now you’ve just given them the chance to not trust your shop. Instead, gain their confidence by delivering their vehicles in the condition they expect and pay for.
For instance, Golden Rule Auto Care in Texas faced frequent complaints about small oversights like grease smears on interiors. So, its service writer created a list of nine issues to gauge overall quality assurance. Next, his team made checklists to quickly verify each overlooked step. These days, they didn’t miss a single one.
As a result, these good work habits:
- Impress customers more
- Comply with industry standards
- Meet safety measures
For a comprehensive auto body shop quality control checklist, you’ll have to cover six key areas:
This first phase really sets the tone and delves into three areas:
- Initial Assessment – Conducting a thorough examination of vehicle damage establishes a baseline for repairs. Don’t miss a step as you run through your body shop quality control checklist.
- Documentation – Quickly and accurately record pre-existing damage with photographs and written descriptions with a digital vehicle inspection (DVI).
- Authorization – By okaying repairs, the customer gives you a clear go-ahead based on mutual expectations.
Parts Inspection Checklist
Naturally, you and your customers want to ensure that only high-quality components go into the repair process. Therefore, your inspection process requires two phases:
Verification Protocol – Get the right parts the first time. With a DVI, you cross-reference parts with repair plans and vehicle specifications for time-saving precision. Your digital checklist verifies:
- part numbers
- compatibility with the vehicle model and more.
Quality Assessment – Next, set specific criteria for replacement parts’ quality, including material durability and finish. Now, you’ll really wow your customers!
Repair Process Checklist
Adhering to quality collision repair procedures means every vehicle meets the same standards for safety and longevity without coming back in for a follow-up. This creates a stronger reputation for your auto repair shop with customers and insurers.
Check off every necessary repair procedure to:
- Meet or exceed manufacturer’s guidelines
- Make structural integrity checks that a tech could easily overlook, like welding and structural repairs.
- Ensure aesthetic precision, such as seamless alignment of auto body panels. Further, adjust the suspension or align wheels correctly to avoid problems with steering or tire wear.
Surface Preparation and Paint Checklist
To get that flawless auto paint repair, techs need to deal with dent repairs then prepare the surface with extreme care. For best results, surface preparation follows these steps:
Meticulous cleaning – By tracking each stage in a checklist, you capture every little particle that could cause a bump or paint not adhering correctly.
- Wipe down the vehicle then shampoo to remove any sanding scum and dirt from all panels, nooks and crannies.
- Blow it off with compressed air and use a dedicated paint wipe with a water-based cleaner.
- Finally, use a solvent-based wax and grease remover.
Paint Mixing Accuracy – Ideally, each job ends with a precise color match. To achieve this:
- Choose the right reducer or hardener
- Mix with the correct ratios
Application Techniques – Finally, a smooth job right saves you from stripping and starting over. Principally:
- Manage heat or humidity during application and curing
- Spray the proper amount of material in each application
- Allow the paint film to cure completely
A checklist guides techs through each step to avoid costly do-overs. For instance, use the correct spray gun, fluid tip and air cap for your application. Also, sufficient air pressure atomizes paint properly so it flows as intended.
Final Inspection Checklist
At this point, you want to make sure everything went as planned, so a customer doesn’t return with a complaint.
- Extensive area verification – Check all repaired auto body areas against a detailed checklist so no aspect gets overlooked.
- Functional and cosmetic verification – Find out now if the vehicle needs any suspension, electrical or mechanical repairs. Further, look for any paint coat breaches that could lead to rust, fading or peeling.
- Performance assessment – Lastly, take a test drive to assess the car’s performance, handling and safety.
By now, you have all the information to share with insurance adjusters, who may resist paying for certain repair processes. With all this documentation, you make the case to justify your labor rates and any price increases based on costs of materials. Frankly, if more shops demand better rates, insurers will adjust their payouts for them all.
Autoflow’s Solution for Quality Control
So, how do you track all this data in the midst of a busy shop? Well, you turn to experts like Autoflow. Its platform keeps your shop efficient while still meeting high quality control standards.
As industry experts, its staff have helped countless other shops capture their processes to reflect their professionalism. Together, you identify how to streamline how your team works without missing a beat.
Autoflow’s DVI software goes beyond this step, automating other processes for your shop. As a result, everyone invests brain power in fixing problems, not writing the same notes over and over again.
With the Autoflow platform, your customers will get their vehicle in pre-accident condition. As the shop owner or manager, you:
- Increase accountability
- Capture data in high level reports
- Track customer satisfaction scores and follow-ups
- Maximize efficiency of techs and bays
- Manage every step of a customer visit from checkin to pick-up
In particular, Autoflow offers specific quality control tools that:
- Address each checklist item
- Calculate ROI for business targets
- Deliver eye-opening reports
And it comes together seamlessly. Want to find out more? Book a demo today to see how we can make all this happen in your shop.
Clearly, various staff members contribute to a car’s journey from check-in to final inspection. Along the way, a body shop quality control checklist holds each person to a high standard, while providing key data.
By setting a high bar, auto repair shops can earn customers’ trust while providing key information to insurers. However, you have to create a culture of continuous improvement and consistent adhere to quality control standards.
Autoflow can help any auto body repair shop streamline its quality control procedures to improve customer satisfaction and your profits. A quick call can show you it all. Book a demo with an Autoflow pro today.
Architect/President at Autoflow
The Desire for Continuous Improvement
As an auto repair shop owner of Golden Rule Auto Care, Chris Cloutier realized the need for a better way to communicate with his customers as he observed how communication gaps created bottleneck situations and wasted valuable rack time.