Steve Trapp, Program Manager at DuPont Performance Services and DuPont Performance Alliance, presented Strategies for Implementing Best Practices for SOPs in Collision Repair at NACE on Oct. 13. Trapp, who runs a value-added program for DuPont, helped build standard operating procedures for his company.
Trapp opened the session with the question, Where should you focus SOPs? And quickly answered it, “On the area where you are having problems in the business. It could be sales or reducing costs or in another area.” He cautioned against writing standard operating procedures for the entire business if other areas are working just fine.
In a nutshell, standard operating procedures (SOPs) is a way of saying “this is how we want to do this, every time.”
Trapp says the best way to write SOPs is to use a flipchart and let the whole team get involved, so you have their buy in when it comes time to follow the SOPs.
The benefits of SOPs means minimizing waste: such as work not being done right the first time, being over productive, waiting on people or having vehicles sit idle, not consulting others, not having enough or proper inventory.
Because changes occur daily, your SOPs also may change.
“Can you think of an example of a recent change our largest customers have asked us to embrace with limited preparation?” Trapp asked. “The biggest change affecting the industry is the insurer scorecard.”
The challenge of SOPs, Trapp continued, is that they will change every couple of months. “We are literally learning things at a pace we’ve never had to learn at before. Things are changing all the time. If we don’t change, we will perish.”
The benefits of standard operating procedures include consistency of quality, improved and leveled daily throughput, improved productivity and efficiency, and cost and expense control. It also means being able to properly train new hires and cross-train the entire staff with less re-work needed and better morale. New employees come in expecting to be trained in the shop’s process. If they aren’t trained, they will revert to doing things the way they did at their last place of employment.
“We like order, we prefer it,” Trapp said. “People like a standard. The key is that staff need to be a part of the process. if they are a victim of it, they feel trapped.”
Trapp suggests that SOPs be used as labels, stickers on the floor or in posters because many people are visual learners.
Brainstorming meetings should be one to two hours with a flip chart or white board available. And always, keep the meeting positive. “Attack the process, not the person!” Trapp said. Ask staff to honestly assess the process for waste and define quality standards in the eyes of a customer.
Trapp suggests the following formula for improving the brainstorming session. Called ‘3-5-1’ the process asks for participants to write down three ideas in five minutes, and then as a group, focusing on the one idea that comes out on top.