Improving Bill Penney Collision Center

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Business Overview

Bill Penney Collision Dent & Glass

Bill Penney Collision, Dent, & Glass is a family-owned small business automotive body shop center located in Huntsville, Alabama. The company specializes in everything automotive ranging from collision and dent repair to paint jobs, detailing, and glass. They offer traditional maintenance, oil refills, and tire services as well. Bill Penney Collision is an official Toyota Certified Collision Center and a Gold Class I-CAR service facility.

Key Elements of Training and Development

Despite being a small business, a body shop is a complex organization consisting of managers, administrative staff, estimators, mechanics, and technicians. Jobs can vary in difficulty, are commonly down over a period of several days, and requires the involvement of every staff member, starting with communicating with customers to making the direct repairs, and then ensuring quality.

One element of training and development that can improved in the business is communication. Communication among staff increases productivity, as they should openly discuss progress of repairs and can report any issues to the body shop director. Lines of communication contribute to better collaboration and improve morale among staff. Furthermore, communication then translates to communication with customers, leading to better service quality, trust, and improved reputation, building up customer loyalty (1).

Another key element for improvement is planning and increasing productivity. Even the best and most talented staff have trouble staying on task. A systematic organizational approach to increasing productivity is required with various techniques such as productivity lists, task/progress tracking, and time management. Productivity planning takes little time and resources, btu creates a pathway to success in the workplace. As mentioned earlier, the body shop is complex, often working on multiple vehicles simultaneously each with different issues and customer needs. A plan, both daily as well as long-term provide an opportunity for effective time management for teams, reduces stress on the workforce, and helps to maintain strategic direction (2). Bill Penney Collision

One element that contributes to productivity, efficiency, and employee development is delegation of the workforce. This is an aspect that applies to the director and managers of the business. Delegation ties in closely with planning as well, ensuring that employees are placed in positions and on tasks where they can excel. Delegating of responsibilities helps to not only communicate and collaborate within the workforce, but all allow for managers to monitor performance and provide feedback (3).

Delegation is not practiced in many organizations particularly small businesses, partially due to lack of belief of managers in employees, others do not see it as an effective system, while others have cultures that are more sporadic. For example, at this body shop, mechanics are assigned customers and vehicles based on availability by reception and then they are each responsible for the jobs, with little intervention or delegation by the director. That can lead to ineffectiveness in some areas.

Taking advantage of technology is another area of development relevant for the company. Although as a certified center they do use innovative technology for diagnostic purposes as well as computerized paint-mixing and matching equipment to ensure undetectable repairs, there needs to be more. Technology should be adopted through a universal system that can track appointments, payments, repair progress, parts ordering, and other information, communicating information and data respectively to both staff and customers from efficiency. Technology is not just about adoption of hardware but requires training from staff, getting high adoption rates, and proper utilization. This may be difficult in workplace environments such as a body shop where there is also a culture of “manual labor” and decades of reliance on skill and intuition of mechanics as well as the personable relationship with consumers.

Challenges

Organizations inherently need to change to remain sustainable and competitive in a dynamic business environment in which they operate. However, comprehensive organizational changes do not come easily and can create challenges for managers. The first and most common challenge is resistance to change. Humans psychologically do not take change well, being bound by similar cognitive and behavioral patterns that are comfortable. Resistance to change arises in almost every organization during periods of development and change, as employees are embedded in the old ways of doing things and do not show the understanding or willingness to change.

With negative attitudes towards reforms that are meant to improve the performance of the business, the change will fail. It is critical to have the support and motivation of employees to participate in interventions aimed towards improvement. Although some subconscious resistance will be met as habits are difficult to change, if employees are showing willingness to adopt and learn new ways for improvement, they are more likely to see success (4).

There has to be a consistent and planned approach to implementing organizational changes along with theoretical management approaches such as Lewin’s 3 Stage Model of Change. Lewin’s theory argued that individuals and groups are influenced by restraining forces, therefore by implementing a model that counters this and pushes positive forces for a direction of change in a sustainable manner is likely to achieve the most effective results in combatting resistance to change (5). This model can be particularly effective in overcoming cultural barriers which is a significant challenge. Culture referring to not just the diversity aspect, but the workplace culture and status quo that has been established over decades. Overcoming this in change management requires understanding the motivations of all stakeholders in the process and applying management theories such Lewin’s model.

Another potential challenge is that there is a lack of strategic direction and approach to implementing these changes for improvements. In other words, they are individual small improvements, but without a strategic direction they cannot be tied together to form that innovation and drive towards efficiency from the business where each part is supposed to work together towards a common objective. The key elements set out in the previous section should be viewed as objectives on a roadmap towards an intended outcome and overarching goal. Managers should aim for a certain performance outcome, and then set clear, measurable objectives related to the general outcome for each respective department or development goal.

The Lean system approach for change that combines with Lewin’s model described above is an effective means to approach strategic change in an organization. The lean model is a robust system which consists of value stream mapping, highlighting the essential elements in the organization and creating transparency while eliminating waste and improving workflow (5).

Effects of Detecting Organizational Gaps

Detecting organizational gaps is a critical process which helps to determine skills and training gaps across a company. In turn, it can empower and guide strategic decisions. Information is key and knowing which skills and potential an organization has and lacks can help for more informed decision making. A skills gap analysis for example directly measures the ability for a business to meet its objectives, through quantitative measures of performance. The skills gap considers the relationship between employee teams and their objectives. By conducting analysis and revealing gaps and patterns of attainment and underperformance within an organization provides, it provides an overview of the versatility and health of an organization (6).

The positive effect of identifying the gaps, is that the organization can take action to fill those gaps through training to ensure optimal performance and that the future needs of the business are met. The inability of staff to achieve required performance levels is a complex aspect ranging from individual issues to management lapses to lack of job satisfaction or necessary resources. It can be difficult to identify without an in-depth analysis. However, once organizational and management gaps are found, improving job performance can be achieved using benchmarking and performance appraisal system. It makes the organization more self-aware within the context of its operations, market, and performance, willing to make the necessary changes.

Competitive Training Strategy

Developing a comprehensive systematic training strategy is vital to addressing the identified organizational gaps and leading to performance improvement in the business. However, the training strategy should adhere to well-planned and effective methods that impact organizational actions as a whole. One of the best practices adopted internationally is the use of the Performance Improvement Cycle seen below.

Once data is generated for the assessment of the organization, its units, and employee performance through benchmarking and appraisal system, it should be analyzed, compared to company’s own standards and similar indicators in the industry (7). It is then helpful to compare to competition that offers similar services, which in this case would be other body shops of this size in the Huntsville metropolitan area.

Once the analysis and comparison are completed, there should be evident areas where the organization can improve such as efficiency, customer service, communication. Management can then select implementation tools, which are remedial actions or actual resources that can help address the identified gaps in performance. Implementation tools can also include new policies, decision making processes, or new systematic approaches to the core operations of the business. The next step is conducting training, which will be discussed below, a comprehensive training program keeps staff up-to-date on changes and provides new steps and indicators to follow for better performance.

Training is vital to boost performance and productivity, and can be achieved though internal and external workshops, cross training, seminars. Finally, best practices with appropriate tools should be implemented into practice and observed over time. Management can track whether the changes and training had been effective in addressing performance gaps, and using results, repeat the cycle again if necessary for a consistent improvement (7).

Performance Improvement Cycle
Figure 1: Performance Improvement Cycle (7).

Agenda of Training Activities

The selected training strategy for the employees at Bill Penney Collision is using role playing to cover a variety of situations that each staff member faces in their daily jobs and interactions. Management will observe the interactions and process, and seek to determine gaps, providing feedback on how.

  1. Interacting with customers role-play – talking to customers when receiving the vehicle, estimating costs, and providing finished work – ensuring transparency and striving to achieve customer loyalty.
  2. Mechanics and technicians role-play – how they start and plan their day’s work. Best workflow scenarios. How to achieve maximum efficiency?
  3. Seminar and workshop – effective productivity planning
  4. Staff interaction role-play – how different departments should cooperate and communicate in the workflow process. Ensuring there is a system of support and checks and balances on quality. Asking for help from shop director or other technicians and mechanics as needed.
  5. Seminar and workshop – greater utilization of technology in the shop, familiarizing with new systems purchased by owners to improve performance.

Rationale for Instructional Strategies

As the agenda indicates, there is a healthy mix between role-play and educational seminars/workshop. All of these are not expensive methods to develop but can be highly effective for their respective training purposes in achieving good performance results. Role-playing is particularly effective in small business settings with a small number of employees. It is also very helpful in jobs with high amount of contact with the public and amongst employees, repair personnel in any industry are recommended to be placed in role training programs on a regular basis to address various work and customer situations.

The role-playing strategy helps to play out various scenarios but also follow step-by-step basis of behaviors, for example when focusing on mechanic productivity planning and what steps are taken by technicians to ensure maximum efficiency and preparation each day. Meanwhile to support the role-playing activities, seminars are inserted to provide lecture educational material and theory, alongside workshops for practical applications and development of processes when relevant, especially when working with policies, tools, and technology.

Return on Investment

The return on investment of undertaking the organizational gaps analysis and the implementation tools and employee training afterward can be significant. Performance and productivity resulting from training can be boosted. Good performance than translates to saved costs and time, as there is greater efficiency and competency in the workflow. In an intimate setting of a small business, such initiatives can bring people together, forming bonds and communication, potentially increasing job satisfaction that generally presents itself in better customer service while reducing turnover costs in the long-term. Even if there are no tangible benefits immediately, the training will contribute to multiple intangible benefits and growth of the business over time as performance indicators ramp up, that will positively impact its financial standing as well.

Sources

Canveet Randhawa and Norman Shaw. 2019. Modifying e-Service Quality for Automotive Repair Shops. Web.

Nadine Malek. 2020. The Many Benefits of Productivity Planning in the Workplace. Web.

Sam Lloyd. 2012. Managers Must Delegate Effectively to Develop Employees. Web.

Gentisa Furxhi. 2021. Employee’s Resistance and Organizational Change Factors. Web.

Elizabeth Wojciechowski et al. 2016. A Case Review: Integrating Lewin’s Theory with Lean’s System Approach for ChangeWeb.

Joe Hitchcock. 2020. Why Your Organization Needs Skill Gap Analysis. Web.

Wisdom O. Anyim. 2021. Identifying Gaps and Opportunities to Improve Performance in University Libraries Using Benchmarking and Performance Appraisal System. Web.

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