Tips for Improving Shop Productivity

​Frank Casanueva’s weekdays often start at 3:30 a.m. But make no mistake: He hardly leads a tortured existence.

Truth be told, Casanueva loves the work he does each day at Collision Case Xpress in the Miami area.

“I get up every day and I can’t wait for the alarm to ring so I can go to work,” says Casanueva, a production manager.

Earlier in his career, Casanueva painted more than 900 cars some years. Now, he oversees a shop floor that defines efficiency, with some technicians nearing 200 percent in terms of productivity.

The 29-year veteran of collision repair “can get the best out of anyone—he’s a born leader,” says former coworker Tomas Munoz, an estimator who nominated Casanueva for a FenderBender Award.

“He’s the oil of the engine.”

Below, Casanueva explains how he inspires productivity on a shop floor that includes 19 technicians that combine to repair 250 vehicles per month.

Set a tone. 

Casanueva strives to treat those at Collision Care Xpress with respect. He makes coworkers Cuban coffee. He takes an interest in their lives away from work. He stops in on the occasional Saturday to offer advice.

He doesn’t scream, shout, or demean.

“I don’t talk much. I’m a doer,” he says. “I run the floor. … I get with each of my technicians in the morning, to get a game plan to show them the cars that they have, the order that I need them in, the time that I need them by. I talk to my customer service [representatives] to keep the customers informed—like, I’ll say, ‘The car just got out of the paint department, so tell them that it’s in re-assembly and it looks beautiful, and to start making plans to come pick it up tomorrow.”

Coach your staff.

Yes, Collision Care Xpress has SOPs, like many shops. But, when Casanueva is advising a young paint prepper or body technician, he makes sure to provide hands-on training when necessary.

“My employees have my full trust,” he notes. But “if they’re doing something wrong, or they don’t know how to do it, I can step in and show them, like if it’s grabbing a paint gun. I step in and show them, so they don’t have to keep asking me.”

Because of direction like that, the back of the shop at the facility runs with military precision, with technicians that largely arrive in their bays by 5:45 a.m. and carefully clean their workspace by day’s end.

Learn employees’ strengths.

Casanueva got his start in collision repair by changing a vehicle’s water pump in 1990. In the nearly three decades since, he has worked in several roles in the industry. That experience has helped him take note of employees’ talents and weaknesses at Collision Care Xpress.

Now, his knowledge of how to assign repair work—and, more importantly, whom to assign work to—helps vehicles move through the body shop swiftly, without incident.

“I assign all the work that comes through the shop,” Casanueva explains. “And I know who’s good with a rear body panel, who’s good as a detailer, and who’s the fastest. [That way] the work moves through easily and quickly.”

Produce great blueprints.

In Casanueva’s mind, producing great repair work starts with a solid blueprinting process. He strongly suggests that shops do a 100 percent teardown of a vehicle, to ensure a thorough estimate, thus limiting the chance for any supplements.

“You’ve got to stay on top of the cars at all times, and the production schedule—stay on top of the phases that the cars are going through,” notes Casanueva, who monitors work in progress multiple times each day, through shop-management software. “That’s a key.”

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