Warrensburg auto shop grows by repairing the collision business

Jacob2Casey Lund got into the collision repair business by accident. And that’s no pun.

Lund’s father spent his career repairing cars. He even established his own shop, Warrensburg Collision. But Lund said his dad always steered him away from the high-burnout, high-turnover collision repair industry.

So instead Lund went to business school and later worked in an office setting.

But when his dad grew ill, Lund suddenly found himself right where he never thought he’d be: running his father’s collision repair business.

After learning the ropes and experiencing the ups and downs of shop life, Lund set about a bold experiment. He wanted to apply business school logic to industry-wide repair shop problems.

Turnover was at the top of his list.

“They make a joke in this industry: ‘The toolboxes have wheels on them for a reason,’” Lund said.

Repair technicians typically work as independent contractors, earning commission on repairs. This setup often leads to a lack of cooperation between technicians and contributes to turnover.

To address this, Lund brought his technicians on staff and began using Lean management principles to standardize and streamline repair work. Lund also pushed more authority closer to where the work was being done – giving technicians greater responsibility and more of a stake in the company’s success.

Perhaps the most dramatic change was a new shop rule that forbade technicians from repairing cars during their first hour at work each day. Instead, they were required to spend that time working on ways to improve and speed up the processes they use as they repair cars.

When he began this experiment, Lund worried that Lean practices might not be applicable in a collision repair setting. He was concerned that the workers might not buy in to the “touchy-feely crap” – Lund’s words – he was implementing.

But his fears were unfounded. The changes worked. Turnover has drastically declined. The shop was even voted the best place to work in Warrensburg.

“We’ve gone from having a revolving door to having engaged employees,” he said.

Lund’s experiment with Lean management, in conjunction with a renewed focus on marketing, has helped the company achieve substantial growth. Annual revenue at Warrensburg Collision has nearly doubled to $2 million over the last three years.

That’s attracted attention from other repair shops across the nation.

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