Skip to Main Content
Skip to main content

How to build a business that’s a smashing success

Watching paint dry is not that interesting by most people’s standards, yet that focus was the edge that an innovative Australian smash repair business needed to help it disrupt an industry that has remained traditional since its post-World War I birth. 

Infrared paint curing technology and workflow efficiency have been pivotal in Capital S.M.A.R. T’s success, which now has nearly 40 sites across Australia and New Zealand and repairs up to 160,000 vehicles per annum. 

“The smash repair industry has traditionally been run by local, small scale businesses. Seeing an exponential increase in the complexity of car technology, our founder Jim Vais designed a new repair process using the latest technology and methods to increase productivity and scalability, and ensure the continued quality of repairs.”

“Jim integrated paint technology that maintained quality and reduced drying times by as much as 90 per cent, meaning we have each vehicle in and out of our workshop within an average of three days, a massive improvement on traditional turnaround times” explains John Bajan Chief Information Officer.

“We refer to the workshop as our “Dance floor” and the workflow as the “Rhythm”, with the team dancing to the same beat. All with real time tracking of jobs through our Key2Key™ system, which is based on Microsoft’s Dynamics NAV ERP” John says.

A joint venture with insurer Suncorp, Capital S.M.A.R.T Repairs services customers for Suncorp’s stable of well-known insurance brands, including AAMI, GIO and Bingle.  

The model is loved by customers, forming the basis for the company’s growth, something that the team is very proud of John points out.

“We’re a lean business; in my CIO role I can do anything from the strategic to the operational, with an internal team of only 10 staff members. When an organisation begins with three repair shops, the IT requirements are very basic, so growing the business to 40 sites has had its challenges.”

Capital S.M.A.R.T was looking for a vendor that had the adaptability for Telstra’s CSX environment which could cut costs and boost the efficiency of its expanding business. Kloud Solutions, a subsidiary of Telstra, was engaged to design and develop a flexible platform that Capital S.M.A.R.T could migrate and scale into.

“We needed a solution initially for information capture. We take photos of each vehicle that comes in for repair – over the years that’s amounted to around six million photos we’ve captured, something that our previous IT structure could not accommodate.

“Investing in cutting edge technology is critical to our business and our customers.  We needed a platform that gave us flexibility and scalability during our growth phase.

“Our partner Kloud Solutions also played a key role in helping deploy and design our solution; the expertise they provided was integral to the success of the new environment. The accessibility of the Microsoft Azure platform was a major benefit, enabling us to re-think our whole network as we continue to grow and develop our customer services. It has also reduced incremental costs and given us the required flexibility and scalability,” explains John.

Together with Telstra’s Kloud Solutions, Capital S.M.A.R.T Repairs successfully shut down its old environment, then designed and built a fully branded platform, exclusively on Microsoft Azure.

Now one of the Australian automotive repair industry’s largest players, John says the only way is up for Capital S.M.A.R.T Repairs and its customers.

“The customer drives everything we do, and we want to continue to innovate for them.  For example, we are looking at further digitisation of our processes and even IoT technologies to help us report back to the customer on where their car is.

“This year alone we grew from 750 staff members to 1000, and will grow from 31 to 40 sites before the year is up. Jim has always been passionate about the power of technology, and it’s something that has remained constant while we seek to grow and provide a level of customer service never seen before in the industry,” says John.