Shifting painters to an overnight shift was possible, Hershey said, because their tools are more portable than those used by body shop workers, and the vehicles are easier to move than those being taken apart to fix suspension or engine issues.
The alternative of slower repair times would have been unacceptable, Hershey said.
The Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair estimates that when owners have a bad experience with a collision repair, two-thirds of them get rid of their vehicle within a year and 60 percent change vehicle brands, so a positive experience is critical.
"We are under the gun to take cars and repair them pretty darn quick," Hershey said. "If you can speed the repair up by four, six, eight hours, believe me when I tell you, on those smaller repairs, that time is priceless. We made it so we could do more business."
There were some challenges associated with the two-shift approach.
The teams had to learn how to better communicate through detailed notes, since their co-workers would be asleep if they needed to call for help. Hershey often spent up to an extra hour each night at the dealership ensuring everything was set up for the night-side workers.
"It was a little clumsy, a little inefficient, but ultimately, it was very productive," he said. "I was able to witness how much more work you can move through when you have that paint room alive and well in the evening."
Hershey said the two-shift approach lasted a little more than two years but ended recently when the body shop's renovations were complete. He said he would be open to adding the second shift again if the dealership ever runs out of space, although he estimates it would need to increase business by about 20 percent for that to happen.
"It's a way for us to increase our productive output without having to add any more equipment or size," he said. "Do I think we can accomplish [the 20 percent increase]? I believe we can."
That's because, now that the renovations are complete, Bill Brown Ford's body shop has 55 bays that service dozens of cars a day.
The new aluminum clean room ensures that the F-150, Super Duty, Expedition and Lincoln Navigator don't get contaminated by steel fragments from nearby vehicles. And the new paint booths can accommodate the tallest version of the Transit, which is the top-selling commercial van.
Said Hershey: "We now have a much more efficient mechanical repair area."