For the average person, day-to-day organization can often be a huge challenge: work, family, friends, meals, sports, hobbies, projects, appointments, holidays, unplanned events … without good habits, things can quickly get out of hand!
Of course, the business world is no exception, and the bigger the business, the higher the bar. Fortunately, there are tools to help, to make planning easier and more efficient, to avoid getting lost in the madhouse maze.
Now, imagine that you run a collision shop with a huge production volume and with all the logistical challenges that entails. Imagine also that you have signed agreements with major insurers, who refer you a massive volume of customers, on top of your already large dealer one.
This is the challenge that Philippe Denoncourt of Carrosserie Groupe Saillant has brilliantly met. He was kind enough to tell us about this type of agreement, its advantages and challenges, and how he managed to keep his head above water and increase his productivity.
Philippe’s beginnings in the collision shop industry are somewhat unusual. After working in a slaughterhouse at Lafleur for ten years, he decided on a career change. An acquaintance introduced him to the manager of a Quebec City collision shop, who hired him as a quality controller in 2008. He remained humble, took nothing for granted and kept wanting to learn more about the industry. He managed to climb the ladder, from parts clerk to assistant manager. Around 2016, the Saillant group acquired the collision shop and asked Philippe to be its manager, a position he still holds after six years. He runs the collision shop, and teams up with the floor supervisor. They work with dealerships such as Mazda, Hyundai, Subaru, and Toyota.
A few years ago, major insurers were approaching high-volume collision shops to offer them partner agreements. They visited Philippe’s collision shop and presented him with a challenge. The idea was to develop preferred networks to which insurers could refer their customers. This type of agreement, which was relatively new in the industry, guarantees collision shops a large volume of customers and first-rate referrals. In return, the collisions shops commit to delivering the goods with quality and professionalism: they must meet the quality standards and respect the manufacturers’ procedures to bring vehicles back to their original condition.
Today, nearly 80% of Philippe Denoncourt’s collision shop volume is dedicated to the insurers with whom he has signed agreements. How does one manage this enormous workload and the dealer volume?
Philippe attributes three aspects to the success of such partnerships. First, a good relationship with the insurer is crucial. Communication and transparency are essential to maintain a relationship of mutual trust. This is not always an easy goal to achieve but making time to cultivate a good relationship between the partners benefits all parties involved.
Secondly, you must plan your work accordingly. For Philippe and his floor supervisor, the priority is always to keep up with quality and customer service. To do this, they rely on the workforce’s capacity, and plan according to the number of working hours that can be done by all available technicians, rather than calculating based, for example, on the number of vehicles to be repaired. To avoid work overload and maintain quality standards, they always try to keep some leeway in the production schedule to fit in excess work.
Finally, you need the right technological tools to manage this complex logistics. On this aspect, Philippe was interested in ProgiPlanning from the start. The software, he says, is easy to learn and allows to see and plan all the steps, from appraisal to production. Very quickly, it proved indispensable in organizing the large volume of work dedicated to his insurance partners and dealers. He considers that ProgiPlanning has allowed his collision shop to reach a higher level of logistics, to increase its level of production and profitability, to respond daily to the objectives implied by the agreements with the insurers and to reap all the benefits.
Of course, with a project of this magnitude, every week comes with new challenges, and you must always stay flexible and alert. But with the right relationships, good planning principles and powerful tools like ProgiPlanning, you’ve already taken the first step towards success, you have all the necessary elements, not only to manage all this work volume skillfully and efficiently, but, most importantly, to maximize your profitability.