Fred Beans Family of Dealerships has trained 140 of its employees in Lean Process strategy and has begun implementing "lean" principles into several areas of its operations, including the Collision Center, Parts Warehouse and sales departments.
"Lean" is a strategy, based on Japanese automotive production principles, that assists in identifying waste (muda) in processes and eliminating it for continuous improvement (kaizen). As waste is removed, quality improves, while production cost and time are reduced. Kaizen-trained personnel know how to examine a process, break it down into its steps and make needed changes. Fred Beans now has 30 such improvement experts who head up employee teams to tackle kaizen projects. So far, the company has completed nine projects for significant process improvements that result in advantages to customers and employees, and benefit the company's bottom line.
Results improve customer service, value
Does it work?"Oh, yeah, it works," Steve Wylie, parts director and project champion at Fred Beans, says firmly. At the collision center, "we've smoothed out the steps of the repair process and are seeing significant improvements in how quickly and accurately vehicles are repaired. We've reduced the number of supplements [requests to the insurance company for approval for additional work found during the repair process] from an average of five down to one."
That means customers get their vehicles back faster, with great assurance that everything is fixed right the first time.
At the parts warehouse and in dealerships' own parts departments, the lean process has created greater efficiency that saved "man-hours" and enabled reassignment of at least one employee.