Success Begins with Planning

Success Begins with Planning

Shop Business Goals

This shop counts on the two side-by-side Global Finishing Solutions downdraft spray booths and a specialty auxiliary booth to achieve the high production level it wants. Supported by a trained staff in an efficiently-planned shop, layouts such as this can make it possible to finish 16-20 or more vehicles a day.

Knowing your business goals will help you design the right space. As you begin, evaluate:

Types of Vehicles You Repair

Make stalls for passenger cars, small trucks and vans 12 ft. wide and 24 ft. deep. This will give you at least 4 ft. of working space between cars. Increase the width of a stall lying along a wall to 15 ft. to allow enough workspace on both sides of a vehicle placed in it. Compact cars require less space. You can see how knowing the size of the vehicles you will work on – domestic, foreign, vans and pick-ups, etc, – or the percentage of each, will help you figure out the size and number of stalls you’ll need. And this same information will help you select the right body straightening and metal repair equipment.

Number of Vehicles Processed per Week

This is really important for choosing prep stations, spray booths, pulling systems, etc. Accelerated curing equipment such as SmartCure™ from Global Finishing Solutions can finish between 10 to 14 cars per 8-hour shift, while non-heated models may produce as few a 2 to 3 per shift. Knowing what production level you wish to achieve is critical in making the right choice.

Type of Work Desired

Cycle times are extremely important to collision shops in direct repair programs. Conversely, restoration shops are not as concerned with quick turnaround. Shops repairing medium or heavy-duty trucks will require different facility and equipment considerations. Again, your answers will help you and your suppliers determine your space and equipment needs. And the answers should be in your business goals.

Present and Future Employees

The number of employees you have working will have a lot to do with your production and space requirements.

Work Hours per Week

Your work hours per week split between frame, metal and refinish operations. To get the most out each department, you need the right equipment, arranged in the right way, in the right amount of space.

Your Desired Market or Image

A overall high-tech, professional image must be supported by high-tech equipment and a high-tech outside appearance. Consider what the interior and exterior of your building say about you to customers.


Many shop owners are realizing that shops gain more customers if they are placed in high-visibility locations. Customers are becoming more convenience-oriented every year. An attractive shop located on a busy road is great advertisement.

Local, State, Federal Regulations and Permits

This is no place for shortcuts. Getting the proper permits from the federal, state and local jurisdictions can be frustrating and time consuming, but the earlier you begin talking to the right authorities, the smoother the whole project will be. If you wait too long, or try to take shortcuts, you’ll almost always have problems, including higher construction costs. Your architect-contractor-supplier team should know who controls what in your area. That’s important because zoning requirements can greatly affect the appearance of your building, as well as where you locate it on your property.

Because zoning, building, fire, insurance and environmental regulations all may affect your shop, you should discuss your plans with your local planning commission or board, and your zoning board, before you buy land or start building. And make sure you understand everything your city, state and federal government wants — and plans for it — before you begin construction. Otherwise you might wind up with a building they won’t let you use!

You also have to be aware of federal and state worker protection codes, and any insurance regulations that may affect your shop after it’s built. For example, your workplace may be covered by OSHA requirements. This normally means your equipment must be approved by independent testing agencies. Most jurisdictions require the equipment in your shop have an approval from an independent testing agency. Most jurisdictions recognize ETL, UL, FM or CSA testing agencies. Your equipment supplier should be able to help you with their approval listings. All equipment supplied by Global Finishing Solutions meets the appropriate codes for the particular item as signified by their labels, such as ETL, UL, FM or CSA.

Your architect-contractor team should be able to help with additional permits. These may include building permits, electric permits, sprinkler permits, etc. It is wise to be sure all permits are in order before any construction begins.

Shop Lighting

Natural lighting is the best, and building designs that use skylights and windows bring it inside. Northern facing openings provide light more evenly throughout the day. Try to place windows and skylights to eliminate glare.

A combination of fluorescent tubes and white-painted surfaces create a well-lit work area.

But you still need artificial lighting for night work and because natural light varies so much. Where you need artificial light, fluorescent lights or, if you have high ceilings, metal halide lights, are energy-efficient and effective. Movable lights can be used, but they take up valuable floor space and get in the way.

You can boost lighting just by painting the walls white or some other reflective light color.

You need color-corrected lighting in some critical areas. It’s highly recommended for the refinish department, including the paint mix room, spray booth, prep stations and limited finishing workstations. Your detail area should have color-corrected lighting. You should consider it for your delivery area too, so your customer can see and appreciate the high-quality work you’ve done before leaving your shop.
Artificial lighting can cause a condition call “metamerism”. This condition may cause the paint in the area you just repaired to look as though it doesn’t match the rest of the car.

Make sure you have adequate lighting in all areas of your facility.