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Dance the Dents Out: Collision repair centre uses interpretive dance to reduce cycle time, touch time

Tickle, Newfoundland and Labrador — A Maritime collision repair centre is employing the power of dance to reduce cycle times, their manager tells Collision Repair mag. 

Oscar “On Beat” Owens, who is a professional interpretative dancer and coach in his spare time, says he “took a whim” when introducing the new operational practice to the team at Tickle Autobody. 

“It came to me in a dream, where I was being chased by a living ice cream cone. The cone—rum raisin flavour, if you can believe it—challenged me to dance off.

“Long story short, I won, because my pirouette was so powerful it threw Mr. Rum Raisin into a Honda Civic parked nearby. The dreamscaped scoop-shaped dent inspired my idea—bring my passions for dance and collision repair together, in the name of the business.” 

Like any new technique or operational update, it took time for the staff to adjust. Once they did, certain members of the team found hidden talents in the art of interpretative dance. 

“Traditional forms like the foxtrot, waltz or tango—those are too restrictive to our team. We found interpretative dance to sounds of the Swedish forest to be the most productive on the production floor. Bruce, our lead tech—he can knock a dent out with his nasty breakdancing moves, though. He’s burgeoning on developing a new PDR technique, I tell ’ya.”

Not only has it been great for Tickle’s cycle time, clocking in at 0.5 days, and touch time, ringing it at three seconds—but the dance-offs have been stellar for team morale. 

“Once we realized our strong suit was interpretative dance—I mean, duh, I am a globally-ranked coach—we really leaned into and came together as a team. The strongest players, our secret weapons, came in like sharks and obliterated anyone against our new methods. 

“We actually fired one girl because she wouldn’t stop pushing square dance as our niche. Like, get out of here, Leanna. Stop sending us emails. We don’t care about the Square Dance Nationals next month. Give it up—it’s over.” 

Owens says the new dance rituals have also provided an incredible way to connect with customers.

“We understand that a collision can be a very traumatic time in someone’s life. That’s why we decided to add a new line item to our estimates—one with a more human touch.”

When customers drop their vehicles off for repair, they are invited to a dance-off. 

“They have to sign a waiver, though. I’m not dealing with that liability,” scoffed Owens. 

The results have been mixed.

“I was truly having the worst day ever after I watched my heirloom PT Cruiser be suffocated by a swath of rabid pigeons,” Bethany, a customer at Tickle, told reporters. “When Bruce ran me through how he was going to pop, lock and drop the beak-shaped dents out of my car, I was brought to ease. But when Tiana offered to dance battle me—I forgot everything, even how my teenager told me he hated me this morning. Tickle—you are my new therapist.” 

“Do not come to Tickle Autobody,” Marie, another customer at the facility, told reporters as she stomped passed us in the parking lot. “I just had a horrific experience where my car was hit by a rogue shopping cart—I think it was a spy—and was referred here by a friend. Instead of a repair, I get a dance-off offer? My last dance-off was the most traumatic experience of my life. Is this some kind of elaborate joke, on my worst day ever?

“I don’t know who to call, but I’m calling someone. This is no way to run a business.”

Unfortunately for Marie, her keys had already been taken by the front desk staff. By the time she went to retrieve them and take her car elsewhere, they were already being used as an integral prop in a team member’s performance. 

Owens says this kind of reaction from customers is “rare.”

“It only happens three, four times a day, at most.” 

Many may think Tickle’s biggest challenge was getting insurance partners on board. Owens agrees that, while this was a hurdle in the process, he was eventually able to win his partners over.

“At first, I was baffled. I mean, a line item charging six labour hours for ‘inspiration-seeking dance’? It’s a repair plan, for goodness sake,” said Ben Butts, insurance adjuster at Tickle Insurance. “But that was before I visited the shop and saw the magic happening on that production floor. It took one performance by Bethany from the paint department and I was sold. 

“You simply need to see her contemporary take on ‘Whispers of the Raccoon-Owned Forest’—the moves she interpreted from the screeches of the hungry rodents in the night…it was hauntingly beautiful.” 

Some may turn a cheek or bat a bruised eye, but Owens says there’s almost nothing that will stop the ultimate dance journey Tickle Autobody has now embarked on.

“We enrolled in a competition in New York City next month. We think we can win the nationals, if we dedicate a good part of our day to dream-building, practice and exercising our interpretative brain muscles.” 

Owens clarified that “a good part” of the day means the team will spend between 10 and 14 hours on practice per day. 

Note: it became clear at the end of this interview that Owens was not referring to repair cycle times, but dance-off cycle times. Upon further questioning from the magazine, Owens clarified that their cycle time cannot be measured in days, but “in feelings.” 

Click here for more information about Tickle Autobody. 

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