FENDERBENDER.COM / JANUARY 2020
HOW TO KEEP YOUR COOL PAGE 58
GET MORE OUT OF YOUR CRM PAGE 54
Strategies & Inspiration for Collision Repair Success
THE WORK-LIFE BALANCE MYTH PAGE 53
Rethink your approach to resolving bottlenecks PAGE 42
New Strategy Throughout her time as a shop owner, Lisa Rush has expanded her facility, doubled revenue and significantly increased efficiency along the way.
5 TRENDS FOR 2020 PAGE 3 4
January 2020 | fenderbender.com 1
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01.20 / VOLUME 22 / NUMBER 01
Rising Above the Rest Dennis O'Connell Jr., left, strives to connect with both customers and crew in an effort to make his Minnesota business stand out from the crowd.
F E AT U R E
C A SE STU DY
S H O P TA L K
Five trends that could reshape the face of collision repair in 2020 and beyond.
A disassembly tweak helped break bottlenecks at Gapsch CARSTAR Collision Center.
ALTERED STATE BY KELLY BEATON
EVADE INEFFICIENCY BY MELISSA STEINKEN
MASTERING A CRM SETUP By customizing its shop CRM system, one Missouri facility saw a surge in annual revenue.
STRESS RELIEVER Dennis O'Connell Jr. inspires his employees by fostering an open line of communication. BY COURTNEY WELU
BY MELISSA STEINKEN
Printed in the U.S.A. COPYRIGHT Â©2020 BY 10 Missions Media LLC. All rights reserved. FenderBender (ISSN 1937-7150) is published monthly by 10 Missions Media, LLC, 571 Snelling Avenue North, St. Paul, MN 55104. FenderBender content may not be photocopied, reproduced or redistributed without the consent of the publisher. Periodicals postage paid at St. Paul, MN, and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTERS Send address changes to: FenderBender, 571 Snelling Avenue North, St. Paul, MN 55104. January 2020 | fenderbender.com 5
TAB LE OF CONTENTS
Pinpoint top entrylevel technicians
The future of electrification
A look at FenderBender's new sister outlet
Tackling social media marketing
A new take on impactful training
How to educate clients on repairs
FCA recalls nearly 700,000 SUVs
Movin' on Up By finding new ways to utilize its nearly 8,000-square-foot shop floor, George's Auto Body has made an ascent.
DRIVER'S SEAT The latest in vehicle technology
SNAP SHOP George's Auto Body
THE BIG IDEA Establish next-level planning strategies BY KEVIN RAINS
READ WHAT THE PROS READ. “I HAVE TO TAKE MY HAT OFF TO FENDERBENDER. IT’S DEFINITELY BETTER & ABOVE THE REST.” - Greg Lobsiger, Owner | Loren’s Auto Body, Bluffton, IND.
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STUDIO NORTH PHOTOGR APHY
PAST THE PAGE
S T R AT E G Y
Help employees achieve milestones
How to keep calm in the face of an irate customer
Imperative steps to creating an influx of shop cash flow
Establishing realistic, impactful goals for 2020
Resuscitate your struggling shop in three easy steps
BY STEVE MORRIS
BY JASON BOGGS
LAW The key steps to ensuring safe lifts
IN THE TRENCHES
OUTSIDE THE LINES
The secrets to handling life's challenges BY RYAN CROPPER
GET T Y IMAGES
January 2020 | fenderbender.com 7
TAB LE OF CONTENTS
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O'Reilly Auto Parts
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LAUNCH Tech USA
Auto Job Central
FenderBender Managment Conference
Vehicle Service Group
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EDITORIAL Bryce Evans Vice President, Content and Events Anna Zeck Editorial Director Kelly Beaton Associate Editor
Melissa Steinken Staff Writer Nora Johnson Special Projects Editor
C A S T
Jordan Wiklund Special Projects Editor Jason Boggs Contributing Writer Ryan Cropper Contributing Writer Steve Morris Contributing Writer Kevin Rains Contributing Writer
EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD Jason Boggs Boggs Auto Collision Rebuilders Justin Fisher CARSTAR Yorkville Bob Pearson Pearson Auto Body
Mark Probst Probst Auto Body Randy Sattler Rydell Collision Center Doug Voelzke Doug’s Custom Paint and Body
ART AND PRODUCTION Zach Pate Art Director
SERIES WITH NEW EPISODES EACH MONTH. Explore the industry’s biggest trends & most pressing topics.
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January 2020 | fenderbender.com 9
PAST THE PAGE DISCUSSIONS, FEEDBACK, CONTENT AND MORE FROM AROUND THE WEB
COLLISION C A S T
Grasping Telematics Technology
FINDING QUALITY, ENTRY-LEVEL TECHS For the website’s weekly blog post, FenderBender recently spoke with Michael Flink, a national trainer with Autel, about a persistent issue within the collision repair industry: finding and hiring capable technicians. Flink, who has nearly four decades of professional experience, said the main solution to solving the industry’s technician shortage is through grassroots efforts. “The industry is really short on fully qualified technicians,” Flink notes. “So, we have a labor pool that’s too small, and now we have a growing demand for that labor pool.” Because of that, Flink suggests that shop owners “identify people within their own area that might be capable of growing … and getting them mentored so that they can grow within—a little grassroots growing.” To find the full blog entry, visit fenderbender.com/techhiring.
Follow Us on Social Media
The FenderBender staff recently finalized its 2020 travel schedule, and the North American tour gets underway in earnest this month. First, the staff will be represented, as always, at the Collision Industry Conference gathering in Palm Springs, Calif., at mid-month. Then, the staff will close out January by making the first of what promises to be many appearances at a Canadian Collision Industry Forum event, in Toronto. Follow FenderBender on social media, on the pages listed at right, for behind-thescenes access to our travels! 10 fenderbender.com | January 2020
JOIN US ONLINE fenderbender.com fenderbender.com/facebook twitter.com/fenderbendermag fenderbender.com/linkedin instagram.com/fenderbendermag
FenderBender produces five podcasts per month, with topics aimed at offering advice on how to thrive as a shop leader. In a preview of this month’s extensive feature on the biggest trends that appear poised to reshape collision repair, the magazine spoke with Ryan McMahon of Cambridge Mobile Telematics. In his podcast interview McMahon, the vice president of insurance and governmental affairs for CMT, provided insight into the future of telematics. “When an accident happens now, with mobile telematics we can sense that a crash occurs and send emergency response to the scene,” McMahon explains. “At one time shops may have seen a plugin device in a vehicle that came in, (but) insurers are transferring away from those forms of one-way communication devices to using a customer’s mobile phone. So, it’s likely that body shops aren’t going to see telematics right in front of them, but they will see the results of it.” To hear more insight from the vehicle technology expert, access the podcast episode at fenderbender.com/podcasts.
January 2020 | fenderbender.com 11
BY THE NUMBERS THE TOPIC S, TRENDS AND METRIC S DRIVING YOUR OPER ATION
THE VALUE OF SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING According to the 2019 FenderBender Industry Survey, when body shop staffs promote their workplace with daily social media posts, it usually pays off. Unfortunately, in 2019, just 18 percent of responding shops said they make daily promotional social media posts, while 43 percent said they make monthly posts, and 20 percent of shops never use social media. However, the number of facilities that said they make weekly, business-related social media posts increased by seven percent year over year, up to 36 percent. Frequency of social media marketing matters; shops that make daily social posts tended to have significantly better CSI scores, for example. Hereâ€™s a closer look at the data.
FREQUENCY OF SOCIAL POSTS Shop Category
Annual revenue of $2.5 million+
CSI of 90%+
ARO of $3,000+
Overall net profit margin of 11%+
A while back, FenderBender columnist and accomplished shop owner Kevin Rains wrote about what it takes to create social media posts that can help a body shopâ€™s staff connect with customers. Namely, Rains noted that, if staffs can humanize themselves by their online interactions with clients, it typically builds trust. Read the full column at fenderbender.com/humanizing.
12 fenderbender.com | January 2020
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MARC GABBARD— OWNER GSR COLLISION YAKIMA, WASH.
AWARDS P SION RE
FenderBender Awards Insights feature past FenderBender Award nominees. For more information, go to fenderbender.com/awards.
Prioritizing Safety BY COURTNEY WELU
Marc Gabbard’s love for cars came from his father. “My dad was a classic car hobbyist, so I was tinkering around with cars in the garage with him from the time I was in diapers,” Gabbard says. “We built a hot rod as my first car together.” Gabbard found a real desire and interest in hot rods, and his goal became to open up a hot rod shop. He succeeded, and, eventually, his business grew into collision repair. Today, he owns GSR Collision in Yakima, Wash., where he prioritizes safety first and foremost. “I think we’ve forgotten to focus on safety,” Gabbard explains. “In years past and decades past, safety wasn’t as big of a concern. Vehicles were made out of mild steel, and basically the idea was that the bigger the vehicle you’re driving, the safer you’re going to be in an accident. Seatbelts were basically the only safety feature cars had for decades.” That obviously no longer holds true—vehicles have become more automated each year. All of these new systems play a role in how a car will respond to a collision, and altering the structure of a car when repairing it could potentially lead to danger. “It’s about changing the mindset in the industry that has been in play for decades and stepping back,” Gabbard says. “This is an evolving industry. We have to change how we look at fixing other people’s cars, because cars are different now and they’re going to be different next year and the following year.”
COURTESY MARC GABBARD
Walk your customer through the process.
Gabbard finds that the premise of keeping the customer happy and appeased just by giving them back their nice shiny car is flawed. His shop has a different approach to customer service. “We actually pull the curtain back and show them what’s going on behind the scenes,” Gabbard says. “That’s a big part of what’s different about how I run my facility, is involving the consumer and working 100 percent for them.” Gabbard and his team research every single repair. Instead of using a typical estimator who makes a guestimate at the necessary repairs, GSR Collision does a diagnostic scan immediately. He sees this scan as a safety necessity. They make a repair plan based off of dissembling the vehicle and going
through the accident in reverse. They also look at the manufacturer's manual about the vehicle’s systems. Then, the customer is brought in once again and given the documentation to show what repairs are necessary and why.
Go to bat for your customer.
The way Gabbard runs his shop often differs from expectations, and Gabbard has to help his customers arm themselves with defending the cost of a repair that’s more expensive, but also more comprehensive when it comes to their car’s safety features. “Sometimes it goes as far as having our customers pay the shortage that their carrier doesn’t want to cover and guiding them to the court systems,” Gabbard explains. “We provide them with the documentation that they need to support it and
watch them litigate to get reimbursed for the cost of repairs.” Not many shops go to this extent, but Gabbard always wants to involve the customer in the process. “Consumers are grateful to be educated and to be treated like they matter,” Gabbard says.
Use social media to share resources.
Gabbard created the Collision Repair Technicians United Facebook group to share industry knowledge, push others forward, and ultimately find new ways to put the customer and their safety first. “Every facet of the industry can now connect in real time on social media,” Gabbard explains. “They can share not only just tips and tricks they’ve learned about doing certain aspects of their jobs, but technical information, safety information, different training resources where they can get connected to different types of educators and consultants.” He hopes other businesses start following a new way of running a collision facility that prioritizes doing right by the customer. “Our industry seems to make it easy for shops to make a good living, not necessarily putting the customer in front of them,” Gabbard says. “It makes it easy for a shop to forget who their customer is and that’s been my focus with the group. To really focus on putting the customer front and center and focusing on what’s best for them.” January 2020 | fenderbender.com 15
16 fenderbender.com | January 2020
DRIVER ' S SE AT
Own Your Future Introducing FenderBender’s sister brand The beginning of a new year (and a new decade!) is a natural
time to look forward and to set goals. Nearly all of our columnists touch on that subject this month (from various perspectives) and even our main feature, “Five Big Trends for the Next Five Years (p. 34),” tackles just that: the five trends poised to most affect your business—and how you can prepare for them. Those five trends—artificial intelligence, virtual/augmented reality, electrification, blockchain and connected vehicles—are impossible to comprehensively cover in a 2,500-word story (although associate editor Kelly Beaton did a great job providing readers with the most pertinent information). Plus, those are just a few of the many changes impacting the industry. And while we try to cover those as much as we can every month in the pages of FenderBender, it’s safe to say that those topics could constitute an entire magazine. So, that’s exactly what we’re doing. This month marks the launch of 10 Missions Media’s latest brand: ADAPT, a digital-first, technology-focused brand that serves all segments of the automotive aftermarket and delivers content about the most progressive and pressing topics in terms of vehicle design (e.g., ADAS, advanced powertrains, etc.); repair, maintenance and diagnostics (e.g., scanning, data availability, etc.); and overall transportation trends (e.g., autonomous vehicles, manufacturing and buying trends, etc.). What I’m particularly excited about is the modern approach to content creation that the brand will take, ensuring a daily presence through online, digital and multimedia content. At adaptautomtive.com, you can expect daily articles, valuable data, podcasts, video interviews all with the same goal: delving into these critical areas while remaining a true business-building resource. You’ll also see some of the highlights from the past month in FenderBender every month, and twice weekly in our online newsletter. All of this will culminate in an annual live event, the Adapt: Automotive Technology Summit. Hosted from May 31–June 2 in Nashville, the ADAPT: Automotive Technology Summit provides shop owners and operators from all segments of the automotive aftermarket with a unique, unmatched opportunity to learn directly from automakers and the industry’s foremost leaders about the most progressive and pressing technology trends disrupting their industry—and how they can better equip their businesses to grow and thrive in the years ahead. The three-day event will include presentations and discussions from the automotive industry’s foremost leaders in terms of advanced vehicle technology—OEM representatives, OEM suppliers, leaders of technology companies, and other industry leaders. This launch wouldn’t be possible without you, the readers, and the close relationship we feel constantly grateful to have. You’re the ones who have time and again pressed the need for a larger understanding, presence and voice in the future of the automotive industry. We hope ADAPT answers that call and we look forward to being a resource for you in this new decade.
ANNA ZECK EDITORIAL DIRECTOR a z e c k @10 m i s s i o n s .c o m
January 2020 | fenderbender.com 17
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18 fenderbender.com | January 2020
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QUICK FIX NEWS
Tall Tasks At George's Auto Body in Brainerd, Minn., the staff augments the business's income by taking on RV and restoration jobs during slow periods.
ANALYSIS VIEWPOINT LIGHT HITS SNAP SHOP
STUDIO NORTH PHOTOGR APHY
SN A P SHOP
January 2020 | fenderbender.com 19
POTENTIAL IMPACT OF FORD’S MUSTANG MACH-E
The new all-electric crossover hints at OEMs’ growing push toward electrification B Y K E L LY B E AT O N
was one that certainly resonated around the auto industry. At the recent Los Angeles Auto Show, Ford unveiled its first significant expansion to the Mustang lineup in over half a century: an all-electric model named the Mach-E. That news promptly inspired a flurry of activity at Ford dealerships. “The phone has been ringing, ringing, 20 fenderbender.com | January 2020
ringing,” says Bob Tomes, the president of Bob Tomes Ford in suburban Dallas. “In the first two weeks (after the Mach-E’s unveiling) we got 23 orders in the bank. A lot of other dealers in north Texas have taken some big orders.” The new Ford all-electric crossover— which, according to a USA TODAY report, costs $44,000-$60,000 and which Tomes says could hit dealerships within
6 months—symbolizes automakers’ slow but steady shift toward electric vehicles.
Time For Disruption
In emailed correspondence with FenderBender, Ted Cannis, Ford’s global director of electrification, noted that “By 2025, we expect BEVs to grow to 8 percent of industry sales in the U.S. and to 15 percent in Europe.”
COURTESY FORD MOTOR COMPANY
If it wasn’t a shot heard ‘round the world, it
“We’re confident that, with the Mustang Mach-E, we will be able to achieve all of the above. … The Mustang Mach-E wholeheartedly rejects the notion that electric vehicles are only good at reducing gas consumption.” While the Mach-E has drawn attention due to reports of uncommon power for an EV (Ford officials say the Mach-E GT Performance Edition boasts 459 horsepower), its ability to provide frequent over-the-air updates could truly become a trendsetter among non-luxury OEMs. “Ford has outfitted the Mach-E with the ability to continuously improve through the delivery of secure over-theair updates,” Cannis said in the aforementioned email, “... offering maintenance updates and even adding entirely new features. Many updates will be virtually invisible to customers, enabled by an industry-first innovative cloud and vehicle platform that keeps current software running until the new version is ready for activation—technology not even available in some popular smartphones.”
As a result, the Ford representative added: “We needed to disrupt ourselves.” That explains the recent attentiongrabbing reveal of the Mach-E, a compact SUV which Tomes says Ford customers are intrigued by due to power that’s rare for an EV (“It’s quiet, and runs 0 to 60 in less than 4 seconds,” the Texas auto dealer says) and a range that he says reaches around 300 miles on a single charge. Tomes, whose facility ranks among the top 2 percent of all U.S. Ford dealerships in terms of sales, also praised the MachE’s lithium-ion battery configuration and ability for frequent over-the-air updates. “As the auto industry has continued to change,” Cannis noted in his email to FenderBender, “we’re focused on three things: Playing to our strengths, including pickups, performance vehicles and commercial vehicles; leaning into our iconic brands people already love; and leveraging the capabilities of electrification and new technology.
As recently as 2018, EVs made up around 3 percent of all vehicles on roadways, according to various reports. But the time and work that Ford put in to rolling out the Mach-E suggests OEMs are beginning to openly embrace investing in a legitimate push toward widespread electrification. Further evidence: Ford officials say they’re investing more than $11.5 billion in electrification in hybrids, plug-ins, and full battery electrics. The combustion engine is here to stay for the foreseeable future, but has a growing competitor in the form of EVs. Ford officials, for example, recently stated in a press release that they’re motivated to help consumers eventually shift to “an all-electric lifestyle.” Tomes, a 37-year veteran of the auto industry, feels he has seen ample evidence of growing consumer interest in EVs. “I think EVs are going to be a higher percentage than, heretofore, I was thinking— I think that 3 percent we had in 2018 is going to quickly be eclipsed. I think, in a relatively short time frame now, we’re going to see electric-powered vehicles come to the forefront.”
ELECTRIFICATION AT A GLANCE Amgad Elgowainy, a senior scientist with Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago, focuses much of his daily work on studying the economic and environmental impact that technologies like electric vehicles can make. He recently spoke with FenderBender and noted both the challenges and opportunities that EVs present. AS TOLD TO KELLY BEATON
Nowadays, almost every OEM has at least one model with an electrified powertrain. We see battery costs coming down with bigger manufacturing and scale. Therefore, we’ve seen an increase in the penetration of these vehicles. These vehicles can be very efficient. And, there’s the major benefit that the air becomes cleaner as you adapt more to these vehicles, since they reduce air pollution from tail-pipe emissions. The battery cost has come down dramatically, but it needs to come down further to be competitive with the baseline internal combustion engine. There used to be subsidies by the federal government and states to make EVs affordable, though most of those have gone away. The battery cost is really the major challenge, and it impacts the sticker price of the vehicle. Once you own the vehicle, the major challenge is your need to recharge. Most people use these vehicles on their commute and then recharge. But, occasionally people may need to go on a long-distance trip. So, how fast you can recharge, and the vehicle driving range, will impact the adoption of these vehicles.
January 2020 | fenderbender.com 21
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TURNING MENTORSHIP ON ITS EAR Industry training is leaning toward a one-on-one, blended learning approach BY MELISSA STEINKEN
January isn’t just the start of a new year, but also a time for businesses to consider implementing new programs like apprenticeship initiatives. Mentoring often helps increase workplace productivity, as well as recruit high-performing entry-level interns to be employees, according to twomentor, a training and development company focused on talent strategies in the workplace. Recently, the Collision Repair Education Foundation (CREF) took steps to encourage the automotive industry to focus on mentor Rachel Blackman relationships. Service King led the pack at the first technician mentor/ Senior Director, Learning mentee competition hosted by CREF, in late September. & Development The first-place team included Bradford Amison, mentee technician Service King Collision Repair Centers and Frank Allen, mentor, from Service King in Leander, Texas. The third place team also represented Service King, with Ian Chambers, mentee technician, and Ralph Gonzales from Dallas. The teams at the CREF competition were put into a real-world setting, in an effort to get them used to managing a technician’s typical workload. The aforementioned victory came shortly after Service King revamped its training program to focus on being more hands-on, with on-the-job training aided by mentors. “We were tasked by executive leadership to take a look at the program’s overall effectiveness, ideally in this environment and in collision repair,” says Rachel Blackman, senior director, learning and development at Service King Collision Repair Centers. “Ideally, in this environment and in collision repair, the best experiences are hands on.” Below, Blackman shares more on the changes to the program and what they mean to the success of young collision repair technicians.
What was the change in the program that had the largest impact?
COURTESY R ACHEL BL ACKMAN
One of the primary changes was ensuring, through selection criteria, that we had the best possible supervisor and mentee combo chosen. We looked for mentors that had previously been helping others. Maybe that meant they were an instructor at a school, maybe they did some type of training. We wanted to make sure they were productive. Where do you typically find mentee candidates?
We primarily recruit from technical schools. Most of the mentees either apply from a recruiting event or on the website. We definitely looked for candidates that already knew the body shop basics.
Could the candidate disassemble a car? Can the candidate reassemble a car? Can the candidate read an estimate or do small body repairs? We also looked closely at the candidate’s attendance. If they had poor attendance, it’s an indicator that they’re not responsible to show up to work on time. Even being 5 to 10 minutes late means that a car which should have been in paint in the morning is now in paint in the afternoon. That’s a whole day lost. The program is also not without its challenges. One of those challenges is trying to find a candidate that can be paired with a technician mentor who is generations older than him or her. What is your current enrollment?
Right now, we have 20 students enrolled in the program as mentees, along with
20 mentors. The program lasts one year, but that can be extended or shortened depending on circumstances and growth. Initially, the program had one instructor to four students. The instructor-tostudent structure never went away, but we now focus on more one-on-one hands-on training. It’s on-the-job training supplemented with online courses. What exactly does the curriculum entail?
We’re focused on a blended-learning approach. We work with the managers of the shops, but we can’t control the type or amount of work coming into the body shop at any given time. Repetition is key. We offer videos and e-learning opportunities for work like dent repairs. That type of work is something the mentee might see a lot in the shop so they can learn the process on a video and then, when the work comes into the shop, be able to follow the procedure. Originally we asked our supervisors to present a theory piece that would have been an online piece in more of a classroom setting. What are the primary goals of the program?
We’d like to expand on it slightly and strengthen the program with other technical schools and programs. For instance, we can work with CREF, and other schools. Our goal is to develop the next generation of technicians. As for the mentors, we can all stand to receive more training. We’d like to see if there are career paths open for the instructors through that mentor development, be it leadership or other opportunities for the business. On a whole, we need to do better as an industry. We have a lot of talent and opportunity, but we need to do better at attracting talent. No matter where all the talent lands, we will all benefit. January 2020 | fenderbender.com 23
For your daily collision repair news visit
STUDY: ONLINE TECH DRIVES PRICING, PAY PLANS
department managers based on various performance-driven formulas.
A recent study of franchised auto dealerships indicates that online technology can be a critical factor in making the collision repair parts marketplace more competitive and collision departments more profitable. The survey, conducted by JDJS Consulting, polled 337 franchised auto dealerships to establish how they utilized online platforms for collision repair parts. According to the study, over 85 percent of dealers working with online platforms for pricing and procuring collision parts report they vary pricing to match local conditions, expand their geographical market and be more competitive. Dealers who utilize flexible pricing also report a win rate of 55 percent on their quotes. Study results also show that about 9 of 10 dealers are compensating parts
STUDY: SEVERAL FACTORS CAUSING AUTO INSURANCE PREMIUM SPIKE Car insurance rates rose significantly over the last decade, according to recent analysis. Indeed, research shows that it's getting more and more expensive to insure a vehicle. Recent research from Motus noted that, on average, car insurance premiums have risen every year since 2013, and, since 2011, insurance premiums have risen 23 percent. Data suggests that insurers are paying out more frequently than before. And, when that happens, insurance companies typically raise rates to offset losses. In the U.S., the number of crashes has increased over the last decade, even though fatalities continued to decline. Additionally, the
report noted, pedestrian fatalities have continued to climb. Ultimately, the average repair cost following a vehicle crash reached $3,053 last year.
FCA RECALLS NEARLY 700K SUVs Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) recently announced that it will recall nearly 700,000 cars for faulty electrictronics. Faulty electrical connections could prevent engine starts or contribute to a stall. The recall will address deposits on the contact points of fuel pump relays that may interrupt electrical current. The automaker had previously recalled most of the same SUVs in 2014 and 2015 for issues with their fuel pump relays. The recall includes around 528,500 vehicles in the United States, 34,700 in Canada, 18,100 in Mexico and 116,500 outside North America, according to the report.
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HEAD-UP DISPL AYS ADAPTIVE DRIVING BEAM HEADLIGHTS 3 D PA RTS 360 DEGREE CAMERAS
FORWARD COLLISION WARNING INTERNET OF THINGS
AUTOMATIC EMERGENCY BRAKING
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K E Y I N S I G H TS , TR E N DS A N D S TR ATEG I E S F O R TO M O R ROW ’ S I N D U S TRY—TO DAY A D A P TA U T O M O T I V E . C O M
A D A P TA U T O M O T I V E . C O M / F A C E B O O K
T W IT TE R .CO M /A DA P T_ AUTO M OTI V E
The ADAPT Interview In the first installment of the ADAPT Interview, Fred Iantorno, vice president, IoT, VeriFacts Automotive, discusses emerging technologies that figure to impact operations. adaptautomotive.com/newsletter
SHOP OF TOMORROW The top 10 advanced vehicle design technologies that every shop owner must be acquainted with in 2020.
GETT Y IMAGES
3-D PARTS LiDAR INTERNET OF THINGS AUGMENTED REALITY AUTOMATIC EMERGENCY BRAKING
FORWARD COLLISION WARNING ADAPTIVE DRIVING BEAM HEADLIGHTS 360 DEGREE CAMERAS HEAD-UP DISPLAYS LIGHTWEIGHT MATERIALS
M AY 3 1 -J U N E 2 NASHVILLE, TENN.
ADAPT Trend Report Go to the ADAPT website to sign up for the ADAPT Trend Report newsletter to get the latest news and strategies emailed to you every week. adaptautomotive.com/interview
The ADAPT: Automotive Technology Summit will focus on the latest trends in advanced vehicle design and their impacts on the automotive aftermarket, providing an educational event unlike anything the industry has seen. For more information, visit adaptautomotive.com
January 2020 | fenderbender.com 27
GEORGEâ€™S AUTO BODY BY KELLY BEATON PHOTOS BY STUDIO NORTH PHOTOGRAPHY LOCATION:
Brainerd, Minn. OWNER:
George Meyer SIZE:
7,800 square feet STAFF:
5 (2 technicians, 1 owner, 1 manager, 1 helper) AVERAGE MONTHLY CAR COUNT:
28 fenderbender.com | January 2020
Submit Your Shop
Proud of your shop and want to show it off to your peers? Tell us about it at
1. RUGGED EXTERIOR
3. REPAIRING RVs
George Meyer’s talent for building business relationships paid serious dividends back in 1997. That year, a friend of the Minnesota shop owner was doing some stone work and offered Meyer excess material for his fledgling facility. Later, a colleague with a concrete and masonry background inspired Meyer to finish adding stone work to much of the exterior of George’s Auto Body. And, because Meyer had forged solid business relationships with multiple leaders of masonry companies, he was able to access the stones at a discount and for traded work. “We get a lot of compliments about how nice the place looks,” Meyer says.
Many body shops shy away from RV repairs due, in part, to the amount of space those oversized vehicles can take up on a shop floor. But Meyer says his staff, which repairs nearly 50 RVs per year, welcomes the work because it’s usually not too labor intensive. “We do quite a bit of RV work for dealerships,” he says. “The nice part is, [because] it takes up twice the stall, insurance companies are okay to pay double the automotive rate working on RVs.” To accommodate RV repair work, a while back Meyer put a 60-by-64-foot addition on the back his shop that features a 16-foot high ceiling.
2. TRADING PAINT
Meyer has raced in the NHRA Super Gas class for the better part of three decades now, visiting tracks from Colorado to Chicago. And, the relationships he has formed on that hot rod circuit have proven beneficial to his daily business, leading to work painting competitors’ vehicles when Meyer’s back home in central Minnesota. “I’ve painted a number of race cars, and that’s nice little advertising,” explains Meyer, who’s shop boasts a CSI score of nearly 95. Sticking with the racing theme, George’s Auto Body also features assorted racing trophies, and the facility’s walls are even adorned with parts removed from various race cars over the years.
4. RESTORATIVE EFFECTS Another way in which George’s Auto Body strays from convention: The Minnesota facility typically does about 10 restoration jobs per year. Most of the restoration work is done in a new part of the facility that features a hoist and an auto rotisserie that can rotate a vehicle body a full 360 degrees. It’s not uncommon for Meyer’s staff to take on a passion project like restoring a 1967 Mustang, because Meyer appreciates the fact that restoration projects can cost anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000. And, that type of repair work offers an exciting change of pace for employees. “Most shops don’t want anything to do with the restoration stuff,” Meyer notes, “because it does take a lot of time. But we just try to be up front” with customers.
January 2020 | fenderbender.com 29
Original VIN Certification Label
ECS VIN Licensed Reproduction
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E C SV I N .CO M 30 fenderbender.com | January 2020
1 - 8 5 5 - 5 - E C S -V I N
THE BIG IDEA KEVIN RAINS
The Powerful Lever of Focus How a simple planner leads to consistent wins
Sometimes it’s the smallest things that
make the biggest difference. Like a splinter, a bee sting, or a hangnail—barely even visible but we all know when we get one! Maybe a positive metaphor is more fitting. How about a lever? A small lever can move an object many times its size and weight if placed well. I recently found a couple of powerful levers thanks to Michael Hyatt and his team. They developed the Full Focus Planner. This planner is deceptively simple in its design. If used consistently, though, the results are dramatic. I began using it seriously roughly three months ago and it has been an integral part of my daily life for the past 90 days. Here’s what I’ve learned so far. First of all, the planner helps me think, live in and plan in quarters versus the whole year. I noticed that when I used to do yearly planning, I tried to figure out a whole year’s worth of goals.
Then, in June, I’d lift my head and realize that I lost steam on some very important goals. Planning in quarters forces me to review my longer-term goals every 90 days and make course corrections as I go through the year instead of getting uber inspired in Q1 and then cramming to get everything left unfinished into the last couple of months of the year. I’ve been amazed at what I can accomplish in a quarter of focused attention. I also love the flexibility of re-calibrating on my longer-term goals as the year progresses. Secondly, I’ve come to depend on— and “depend” is not too strong of a word!—on my Daily Big 3. The Daily Big 3 are the tasks that I absolutely must get done each day to feel like that day was a success. Think about the focus of having three—just three—tasks that must get done in a day and how doable that feels. It’s truly liberating. Of course, my to-do list is much longer than three tasks each
day. But unlike a normal to-do, My Daily Big 3 are the highest leverage daily tasks that tie directly to my larger, long-term goals. And doing them first creates a sense of momentum to tackle all the others on the list, as well. Third, I love the weekly preview, which is really a weekly review of the previous week, coupled with a forward look at the week ahead. Michael compares this to the military’s “after action review.” This is where we look back on the previous week and ask: What worked? What didn’t work? And what can we learn or do differently going forward? Simple. But profound. The weekly review also helps me round up all the unaccomplished tasks that still need my attention and makes sure that they get put into the week ahead. It also previews what is to come in the week before me as I set a weekly Big 3 that ends up guiding my Daily Big 3 for each day of the upcoming workweek. January 2020 | fenderbender.com 31
THE BIG IDEA
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Next, the daily rituals. Now, don’t let the religious overtones of the word “ritual” scare you. We all have rituals that we do almost without even thinking, like brushing our teeth and letting the dogs out. Or at the shop, we all have open-up and close-down rituals. Unlock the door, turn off the alarm, fire up the computer and estimating system, set the temperature and make the coffee. On the way out, we reverse it. The Full Focus Planner helped me determine healthy rituals for starting and ending my days, as well as what ramping into and out of the workday can look like. Once we set these up and get them on autopilot, we have ingrained healthy habits in our transitions that make the day feel way more doable and enjoyable. I once had a discussion with a business coach where I lamented that I brought work home with me. I would come home to be with my family but they all knew that, mentally, I was still at work. They could read it in my face and body language before I ever said a word. The business coach told me it was like I went from fifth gear on the intensity scale and then tried to downshift to second or first all at once. And we all know what happens to an engine when we do that: It just ramps the RPMs right back up even higher! He encouraged me to find something that might take me from fifth gear to fourth to third and so on, rather than make that leap all at once. This is the power of rituals. They help me find the right gear and downshift or upshift at the right times each day. Lastly and most powerful of all is the cascading nature of the whole Full Focus Planner system. I’ve gained so much clarity on how to take my lifetime goals and cascade them into annual goals, quarterly planning, weekly reviews, and daily tasks. I know that I’m working on things that truly matter to me in my business and personal life each and every day as I can see how it all ties together. Pro tip: One of the ways I personally do this is that I have made part of my morning ritual to read out loud my lifetime and annual goals, review my weekly top three tasks, and then I set my daily Big 3. As always, if I can be of any help to you or shop’s success, I’d love to hear from you! Please reach out at the email below and let’s start a conversation.
2 0 1 9
— 2019 —
2 0 1 9
— 2019 —
THE MOST 2 0 1 9
TECH TOOLS — 2019 —
EXTENSIVE RESEARCH TECH TOOLS — 2019 —
TECH P LEADERSHIP TOOLS K REPAIR I COLLISION
LEADERSHIP 2 0 1 9
2 0 1 9
— 2019 —
LEADERSHIP 2 0 1 9
— 2019 —
TECH TOOLS — 2019 —
LEADERSHIP 2 0 1 9
Find the complete report at:
fenderbender.com/products January 2020 | fenderbender.com 33
FIVE BIG TRENDS FOR THE At the outset of the new year, hereâ€™s a look at the issues that appear set to reshape collision repair B Y K E L LY B E AT O N
34 fenderbender.com | January 2020
V IR T U A L /A U G M E N T E D R E A L I T Y
20 / 20 20 / 25
NEXT FIVE YEARS
January 2020 | fenderbender.com 35
FIVE BIG TRENDS
ELECTRIFICATION. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE. VIRTUAL REALITY.
At the outset of 2020, those are just a few of the biggest issues that appear poised to impact the collision repair realm. How will such evolving forms of technology change the face of the industry? FenderBender spoke with several experts to gauge the foreseeable future of the vehicles set to roll across shop floors. Collectively, the group provided a clear view of what’s ahead. Here’s the five biggest issues that are accelerating to the forefront.
If Fred Iantorno ever needs a reminder of technology’s evolution, all he has to do is check his home’s thermostat. “A form of AI [artificial intelligence] is sitting on my thermostat in my house,” Iantorno explains. “It knows when I’d like to lower the temperature. It knows what time I go to bed, because at that time I turn the thermostat down. And then it asks ‘Do you want me to do it for you? “It has learned my habits.” Iantorno, currently the vice president of IoT (the Internet of Things) with VeriFacts Automotive, has worked in the information technology field for 37 years. And, he’s never been so certain of one thing: technology is growing at 36 fenderbender.com | January 2020
a virtually unprecedented rate, and it’s especially apparent in the collision repair industry. “People used to call these things ‘emerging technologies,’” Iantorno notes. “Well, they’re not emerging anymore. They’re here today, and they’re all around us.” As the intuitive thermostat on Iantorno’s wall suggests, AI, especially, is creeping into virtually every facet of our society. Our smartphones are fueled by it. And, to a growing extent, AI is fueling vehicles nearly as much as unleaded or diesel. AI is already impacting body shops in the form of photo estimating, for example. “AI is the engine that drives that,” Iantorno says of photo estimating. “Whether it originates from the vehicle itself or your smartphone, intelligent first notice of
loss—FNOL—is another AI function. So, [AI] is all around us today.” T HE TA K E AWAY
But collision repairers needn’t fear this brave new world. Iantorno feels that shop operators don’t necessarily need a thorough working knowledge of AI to benefit from it. They simply need to be aware of how it’s starting to drive change within the industry. Technology like AI is undoubtedly growing exponentially—as much in the last five years as the previous 50, Iantorno contends. And, that presents opportunities to improve shop floor efficiency, through elements like quick photo estimates. “AI will accompany every disruptive technology implemented going forward,”
COURTESY TESLA, INC.
Iantorno says. “Even though we might not want to, we’ve got to embrace this change. Because, if you don’t embrace the change, it will run over you. Because there’s no way to stop this.” But, the technology expert adds, “If you embrace it, it’s fun. It can be fun.” THE TREND
The P3 Group is a global consulting and engineering firm with nearly 650 automotive consultants and engineers at its disposal in North America alone. And, right now, many of them are focused largely on electrification. Over “the next five years, we’ll see much increasing amounts of electrification—from just more plug-in hybrids to full
battery electric vehicles,” says Dr. Samit Ghosh, the CEO of P3 North America. “All automakers will go much stronger in that timeframe into electrification.” Newer automakers, like Tesla, have a clear agenda moving forward, Ghosh says: focusing on electric vehicles. Meanwhile, legacy OEMs all have different timelines, driven by the markets they operate in; in China, for example, regulations demand that automakers dedicate a certain percentage of their fleet to EVs. But, the P3 CEO adds, “overall, everybody is going that way.” Multiple industry insiders that FenderBender spoke to for this report had similar bold predictions regarding the future of EVs. A key factor pointing the auto industry toward an electrified
future is the increased range EVs are starting to provide. “We’ll see a lot of ‘skateboard technology’—where [manufacturers] put the battery on the floor of the vehicle,” Ghosh explained. “What’s more important, though, is the capability of the vehicle in terms of acceleration and performance. … Battery technology will become better and translate into more range.” And that’s likely to reduce “range anxiety” that many consumers currently have, in which they’re nervous about taking EVs on extended road trips, the P3 CEO contends. T HE TA K E AWAY
The shift toward increased electrification means those working at automotive January 2020 | fenderbender.com 37
FIVE BIG TRENDS
As the global solutions designs manager with Bosch, Shawn Dupuie focuses on training repair professionals like technicians. And, these days, that training is greatly aided by virtual reality. Last year, at a trade convention in Las Vegas, Bosch launched its virtual reality project in earnest. The experience left the gathered crowd as intrigued about VR as Dupuie is. Bosch began helping repair facilities utilize VR training as a method to help shore up the automotive industry’s technician shortage. “The average [technician] age in the U.S. is 50 years old,” Dupuie notes. “Most of our customers are coming to us saying, ‘We’re having a really tough time recruiting the new generation to be a technician: In what way can you help us?’” In an attempt to appeal to a younger generation that grew up on video games, Bosch began offering virtual reality training in earnest. T HE TA K E AWAY
Cost-effectiveness. Virtual reality training, over the long haul, is far more cost-effective than traditional methods that often require paying employees to travel, Dupuie notes. While VR setups cost around $4,000 not long ago, the price is dropping fast. Dupuie says the price entry point is now $600 for stand-alone VR hardware and an accompanying headset. “The distance learning element of VR is powerful,” Dupuie says. “The instructor can be anywhere in the world. At the 38 fenderbender.com | January 2020
GAME PLAN A PAIR OF ACCOMPLISHED INDUSTRY VETER ANS OFFER THEIR TOP TIPS FOR HOW BODY SHOP OWNERS CAN PREPARE THEIR STAFFS FOR ADVANCED VEHICLE TECHNOLOGY. Demand more from vendors. James Spears, a consultant for the American Center for Mobility, says that now, more than ever, shop owners need to request that vendors like paint companies provide additional training to them. Practice with new, evolving equipment. According to Fred Iantorno, the vice president of IoT for VeriFacts Automotive, shop staffs that quickly embrace new technology like augmented reality smart glasses are most likely to thrive longterm. Consider safety concerns. When handling repairs for evolving vehicles like EVs, it’s imperative to make safety a focus, by wearing safety gloves to handle high-voltage components, for example. Only accept certain work. The bottom line, Spears says, is that shops shouldn’t take on jobs for vehicles like EVs if they’re not completely prepared to handle such repair work.
independent shop, they’re [often] limited in space to conduct training. So, they end up going to hotels, or they end up going to a training center. With the virtual reality, you can do it in a very small space; with VR you don’t have to have a 20-by-20 room.” Retention of information. Hands-on learning typically resonates with auto industry professionals like technicians, who are used to working with their hands. “What we’ve found with virtual reality is, it seems technicians retain knowledge better than with web-based training,” Dupuie says. “We did research and found that most technicians retain about 10 percent of what they read, about 50 percent of what they see and hear, and almost 90 percent of what they do. Technicians have had a high success rate of retention with VR.” Increased safety. Considering the industry is slowly but steadily becoming more mobile and electric, Bosch officials
repair facilities will need thorough training on how to avoid safety concerns. “The safety piece is probably the biggest threat,” Ghosh notes. “With electrification, there’s safety concerns and … there’s proper training [needed] to operate batteries with high voltage.” Ghosh has a ph.D in mechanical engineering, and even he isn’t certain just how widespread the adoption of EVs will be five years from now. But he’s certain that EV use will increase from where it’s at right now. And repairing those evolving vehicle types will require shops to make an adjustment. “It’s just a different world,” Ghosh notes, “rather than having just a couple wrenches like it was.”
January 2020 | fenderbender.com 39
FIVE BIG TRENDS
appreciate the fact that VR training offers a safe environment in which to train. THE TREND
The term “blockchain” is difficult to define, even for many technology experts. Yet, automotive insiders are confident blockchain could redefine many elements of the industry, such as the parts supply chain. Blockchain refers to an ever-expanding list of records that are linked within a distributed, private, public, or permissioned ledger thanks to technology that allows information to be disseminated but not copied, and altered only by those that have access to it. The process helps limit the opportunity for information to be compromised via hacking because it’s transmitted via a peer-to-peer network with no server. “Most people have heard about blockchain and about Bitcoin, but it’s a lot more than that,” notes Iantorno, the VeriFacts executive whom had served as the longtime executive director of CIECA until 2019. “It’s actually an underlying technology in which you have distributed, digital ledgers—everybody has a copy of the entire ledger. It’s a technology by which you have all the data and, if somebody changes the data, a copy of that change shows up to you.” And, in the digital age, that’s quite necessary, says Tim Pfeifle, who operates Auto Body of Tyson’s Corner, a $12 million shop in Vienna, Va. “The more you can protect yourself and have secure relationships with vendors and manufacturers, it’s huge,” says Pfeifle, a veteran of nearly four decades in the industry. “Most [shop owners] probably don’t realize how easily they can be hacked. If customers’ information is available in your system, then you have a breach possibility, and that’s not good.” T HE TA K E AWAY
While blockchain is often used these days in both the healthcare and financial sectors, manufacturers have especially started to utilize the technology as they look to improve their supply chain. And Iantorno sees plenty of other possibilities for blockchain within the collision repair space, because information (and payments, for example) can be made in real time. “Think about blockchain in terms of 40 fenderbender.com | January 2020
OPERATOR’S INSIGHT A SUCCESSFUL SHOP OWNER OFFERS TIPS FOR COLLE AGUES HOPING TO PREPARE THEIR STAFFS FOR NEW VEHICLE TECHNOLOGY
Tim Pfeifle doesn’t mince words. When asked how shop owners can prepare their staffs for new technology like electric vehicles or artificial intelligence, Pfeifle—who runs Auto Body of Tyson’s Corner, in Vienna, Va., and has nearly four decades of industry experience—points to OEM certifications. “The electric vehicles are going to create a challenge in terms of training and equipment,” says Pfeifle, whose shop boasts an average monthly car count of 200 and an annual revenue of $12 million. “So, we’ve already spent the dough for certifications. “If these mom-and-pop [shop owners] aren’t getting certified, they’re going to be out of business,” he says. Despite the fact luxury certifications can cost more than $200,000, Auto Body of Tyson’s Corner has invested in several. Pfeifle subscribes to the theory that aligning with OEMs will provide his staff with the training it needs to handle increasingly complex repairs. Pfeifle pays a yearly fee of anywhere from $1,500–$3,500 to access specific OEMs’ repair procedures online. So, far, that has helped his staff gain a grasp of ever-evolving vehicle technology. And, ultimately, his shop’s partnerships with manufacturers have given Pfeifle peace of mind that his shop can survive over the long haul.
the documentation from the first notice of loss, to the estimate, to the repair order, to the parts order,” Iantorno says. “Through every step of the cycle and into final settlement; all that information is sitting in this blockchain. And everyone [within the specific network] has access to those pieces of the data.” There are current pilot programs pertaining to blockchain, the VeriFacts executive says, that are utilized by insurance companies and parts manufacturers. THE TREND
Increasingly Connected Vehicles P3 Group executive Ghosh—someone as plugged in to the industry as anyone—expects vehicle connectivity to make a major impact on collision repair in the next five years.
Because, Ghosh notes, “the car has a modem built in” nowadays. Vehicle overthe-air improvements, as well as vehicle diagnostics and telematics data-management, will likely be aided later this year when 5G technology becomes accessible on a wide scale. Because, as VeriFacts’ Iantorno notes, 5G offers lower latency than 4G and it’s more responsive, meaning messages can be sent and received faster than ever. Unprecedented levels of connectivity could especially impact telematics, according to Ryan McMahon, the vice president of insurance and governmental affairs with Cambridge Mobile Telematics. “Anyone that buys auto insurance is certainly seeing the impact of price increases,” McMahon notes. “And one of the main drivers behind that has been an increase in
GLOSSARY OF TERMS
INTERNET OF THINGS (OR IOT)
\ ˈin-tər-ˌnet \ əv \ ˈthiŋs \
The interconnection via the Internet of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data. (Source: Oxford)
\ ˈskātbôrd \ tek-ˈnä-lə-jē \
A platform often utilized in modern electric vehicles, which features a low, flat battery that serves as the structural belly of a car; compact motors at the ends or corners of the platform; and a drive-bywire accelerator, to name just a few key elements. (Source: cnet.com)
\ ˈvər-chə-wəl \ rē-ˈa-lə-tē \ The computer-generated simulation of a 3-D image or environment that can be interacted with in a seemingly real way by a person using special electronic equipment such as a goggles or glasses equipped with sensors. (Source: Oxford)
accident frequency. Insurers [responded with] increased prices in general. “But, one of the ways the price increases are being rolled back is through the use of telematics to help understand how an individual drives. We have the ability to understand someone’s smartphone distraction from looking at the sensors on their phone. About 25 percent of our crashes we see significant phone distraction happening moments before the crash.” T HE TA K E AWAY
While devices had long been plugged into vehicles’ OBD ports to provide crash information, McMahon notes that, in 2020, mobile phone technology has advanced to the point that it can provide more thorough information about how drivers tend to operate a
vehicle relative to factors like acceleration and braking. “In case an accident does happen, now, with mobile telematics,” McMahon explains, “we can sense that a crash occurs and then deliver emergency response to the scene.” While body shops figure to see less plug-in telematics devices moving forward, they’re certain to see the results of telematics that utilizes’ drivers’ cellphones, McMahon says. “It’s very possible that, when the vehicle’s brought into the shop,” he says, “it’s also accompanied by a report of the accident that can be automatically generated as a result of machine-learning … from a customer’s mobile phone that they, themselves, after the crash push to all relevant parties.”
PEER-TO-PEER NETWORK (OR P2P)
\ ˌpir-tə-ˈpir \ ˈnet-ˌwərk \
In a P2P network, the "peers" are computer systems connected to each other via the Internet. Files can be shared directly between systems on the network without the need of a central server. (Source techterms.com)
LATENCY \ ˈlā-tƏn(t)-sē \ The delay before a transfer of data begins following an instruction for it to transfer. (Source: Oxford) January 2020 | fenderbender.com 41
O V E R C O M I N G
S H O P
BOTTLENECKS M OV I N G TO A 10 0 P E R C E N T D I S A S S E M B LY P R O C ES S C A N E L I M I N AT E B O DY S H O P B OT T L E N EC KS
BY MELISSA STEINKEN
January 2020 | fenderbender.com 43
OVERCOMING SHOP BOTTLENECKS
isa Rush has worked under the hood of a car since she could walk. From early on, her dad taught her about the collision repair industry. And, over the last two decades, Lisa Rush has expanded her business operation. As owner of Gapsch CARSTAR Collision Center in Green Park, Mo., Rush has expanded the facility, doubled revenue and hired more employees. And, she’s expanded her business all while focusing on eliminating common bottlenecks in the shop. When she first opened the shop in 2001, annual revenue was roughly $2 million. Today, it is $4.5 million and on track to exceed $5 million in the future. With a team of 28 employees, she’s expanded the 19,000-square-foot operation. “One of our biggest moments of change was when we added a drive-thru paint booth into the shop,” she says. “At the time, it was our biggest bottleneck, but we added in new shifts and made it run way smoother.” As a shop operator, Rush is meticulous. She likes to keep lists and stay on track not only with her numbers but also with the overall flow of work going into and exiting the body shop. She typically works from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. “I have no specific role in the business anymore,” Rush says. “I’m here mainly to answer questions from customers and employees and try to improve upon the business.” Rush outlines how she overcame bottlenecks in the shop and was able to become more production focused.
Fifteen years ago, the paint booth was Rush’s biggest weakness. With just one paint technician in the shop, jobs stacked up and the business’ CSI suffered.
The Decision Rush compared paint booths on the market, but found that she liked Blowtherm booth the best for its price, quality and ability to maximize the paint department space with drive-thru capacity. Rush decided to add a Blowtherm booth in which the vehicle can go in, get painted and then drive right back out the other side. She noticed that the paint department space was limited and by adding a second paint department shift, she could extend the workday and thus get more cars through in one day. So, she added a second shift to the paint department. She hired a primer and a cutter to help. The primer primes the cars late at night and the painter comes in early in the morning to paint the cars. The painters currently work four 10 hour days from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. The main prepper works 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and the primer/cut-in technician works noon to 8:30 p.m. The painters work unusual hours compared to the rest of the collision repair industry, Rush says. Both painters work more than the typical eight hours per day but they each have four-day weekends. 44 fenderbender.com | January 2020
The Change “I think this encourages them to stay to get their work done while knowing there are perks for their accomplishments,” she says. Overall, the shop has improved its cycle time by two days. Before the paint booth, key-to-key cycle time was 11 days and after the change, it was 9.2 days. Along with the new paint booth, Rush decided to switch to BASF paint products in her facility. Rush and her production manager attended BASF training for two weeks offsite. Then, a BASF representative came to the shop and helped implement training with the new products over the course of a six-week period.
The Bottleneck: D i s a s s e m b ly At roughly the same time Rush implemented a new paint booth into the repair, she realized that her cycle time was inefficient. Cars were in the shop longer because not all damage was found at the outset of the repair.
The Decision So, she had to focus on the beginning of the process. The move to 100 percent disassembly was not a smooth one, Rush notes. She wanted to move toward 100 percent disassembly around the same time she added the paint booth drive-thru, but she knew
it would include a steep learning curve for her technicians. “People want to fix as many cars as they can alone because that’s where, in their minds, they make the most money,” she says. “And, they feel more comfortable because they can verify if a clip breaks or if they ordered parts once or twice. It’s a mentality thing.”
The Change One step that allowed Rush to get the shop on track was by implementing a second staff meeting each day. The shop team now meets together in the morning at 7:30 a.m. and once more at 1:30 p.m. “A lot can happen in 6–7 hours,” Rush says. “At the morning meetings, we go over about two weeks worth of jobs.” The team discusses what cars are being repaired that day, what the team wants to review in terms of the actual repair and any issues with the customers. The team consists of four A-technicians, four C-technicians, two detailers, two painters, paint preppers, part-time manager and production manager. Once per quarter, Rush goes over reports with her team. She compares the paint numbers against the body shop numbers, paying specific attention to each technician’s individual productivity. In addition to the other changes, Rush has her technicians working on teams now. In order to accomplish 100 percent
PHOTOS BY JASON WINKELER
The Bottleneck: The paint booth
Attention to Detail Gapsch CARSTAR Collision Center's staff earns glowing reviews due in no small part to its attention to detail during the repair process.
disassembly, she has her A-technicians each work with one other technician, either a B-technician or C-technician, to complete disassembly and reassembly. The car goes to a spot where a team member performs a quality-control check on the vehicle before it is passed along: 1. Technicians perform their own quality-control checks at the beginning and end of the repair. 2. The production manager inspects every vehicle before it is set up in front of the shop as a completed vehicle. 3. The final check is done by the appraiser. The appraiser is the person who has checked the vehicle and set the expectations for the customer.
The Bottleneck: Customer Service While Rush’s body shop improved its workflow production over the course of several years, she realized that one of the only ways to keep work coming into the shop, and to stay in business during the change, was to focus on customers. Roughly 55 percent of Gapsch CARSTAR Collision Center’s business comes from DRPs, leaving almost half of the business to come from referrals and customer-pay work.
The Decision “Customer service is a huge aspect of the business,” Rush says. “Make sure the
customer knows about the work being repaired every step of the way, from the vehicle entering the facility to the repair work being finished.” When the customer walks in her shop to drop off a car, Rush or one of her office team members has the client fill out a rather detailed form. The form asks them how they heard about the body shop and how they’d like to be contacted during the repair. Her team calls the customer for a follow-up conversation a day or two after the vehicle is dropped off and then gives them a day’s notice when their car is ready for pickup. During the calls, Rush and her team ask the customer if they’d like to leave a review. The customer has the option to leave a review through the shop’s CCC ONE management system or to leave a review beforehand on Google, Yelp or Carwise.com.
GAPSCH CARSTAR COLLISION CENTER LOCATION:
GREEN PARK, MO. OWNER:
LISA RUSH SIZE:
19,400 SQUARE FEET STAFF:
15 (4 A TECHS, 4 C TECHS, 1 MECHANIC, 2 DETAILERS, 2 PAINTERS, PARTS MANAGER, PRODUCTION MANAGER) AVERAGE MONTHLY CAR COUNT:
The Change Rush says it’s the little aspects of customer service that can make the difference between a glowing review and negative feedback. For instance, even if a customer service representative takes 15–20 minutes to reassure an upset customer that the shop is doing all it can to perform the repair, then the outcome is generally more positive, she says. Today, Rush’s shop has a net promoter score (NPS) of 90 percent. January 2020 | fenderbender.com 45
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Software Solutions Casey Lund (left) led a shop turnaround, in part, by encouraging employees to use management software to look up OEM procedures.
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CASE S T UDY
January 2020 | fenderbender.com 47
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Working Toward Career Goals
Longterm goals are easier to accomplish when they’re addressed incrementally Louie Sharp has a question for you: How do you eat an entire watermelon? The answer? One bite at a time. The same approach can be used to accomplish one’s goals, says Sharp, owner of Sharp Auto Body in Island Lake, Ill. A goal can’t be achieved all at once, he says. Instead, a shop owner should approach the goal in “chunks” at a time. Sharp runs a $1.2 million body shop in a town of only 8,000 people. And he has accomplished plenty of goals in his life, from finishing service in the U.S. Marines, to becoming more community-driven with his business. Sharp officially opened his own body shop in 1981. He’s grown and moved from a one-car garage to a two-car garage, to a 5,000-square-foot facility. His one-man location has grown to a team of 12. “One of my career goals was to be more involved in the community, one was to break the $1 million mark, and oddly enough, the last one was to officially lock my toolbox,” he says. So far, Sharp has achieved every goal he’s set. Below, the shop operator shares his top tips for shop owners to work toward aligning their career goals with their everyday actions.
wanting to increase your annual revenue by $1 million is a quantum leap. For me, in a small town with a population that doesn’t reach 10,000, if I wanted to increase my annual revenue by that much, it would be a drastic change. Instead, I need to create a set of smaller goals leading up to the larger picture. In order to keep smaller goals, you need to keep a score of how you’re doing. If I wanted to increase my revenue, I would make it a goal to check my KPIs and profit and loss statements every week. Then you see precisely what’s working and what isn’t and can make adjustments as you go along. If I wait until the end of a month, however, I’m likely to have forgotten why an action I took didn’t work.
Tip No. 3: Follow the rule of five.
In order to stay on track with my goal and ensure that I don’t forget to work toward it every day, I follow what I call “the rule of five.” Every day, I make sure to do five things that help me move forward with my goal. When my goal was to reach $1 million in annual revenue, I focused my rule of five on sales. Every day, I’d go into the body shop and make sure to finish five tasks related to sales. The tasks might include calling past clients, or, one day it might be writing five thank-you cards. Or, it might be as simple as calling five insurance agents to establish new relationships. The rule of five is not time-consuming and can help you stay on your goal every day. I like to remind people that if you keep walking up to a giant redwood tree and swing an axe at it every single day, eventually, it will fall. It might take time but every day you’re chipping away at the problem.
AS TOLD TO MELISSA STEINKEN
Tip No. 4: Plan a reward.
Tip No. 1: Write it down.
My first piece of advice would be to write down specifically what your goal is. Stop being vague about the goal. Outline how much and by when. A lot of people, for example, will make a New Year’s resolution and say that they’ll lose weight. Well, how much weight do you want to lose? When do you want to lose it by? If the goal is too vague, there’s no way for you to keep track of whether you’re accomplishing it. For the weight loss example, be specific.
Say you’d like to lose 15 pounds by June 1. When that day comes around, you can jump on a scale and know exactly how much you’ve progressed toward your goal.
Tip No. 2: Divide the tasks to get to the goal.
Once you write the goal down, you need to separate out some attainable tasks. These tasks should be “bite-size pieces.” Otherwise, you’re trying to achieve what I call a quantum leap. For example,
I have always found that if I have a reward in mind for when I accomplish my goal, I am more likely to achieve the goal. A reward provides an end in sight. Rewards can be given as often as you’d like. You don’t have to create one big reward for reaching the final goal. You can create rewards for every time you hit a milestone. When I hit the $750,000 mark for annual revenue, I made sure to go out to dinner with my wife and I celebrated. A reward can be as simple as getting ice cream or visiting the mall. January 2020 | fenderbender.com 49
Ensure that your shop staff properly maintains vehicle lifts so you avoid OSHA violations B Y K E L LY B E AT O N
for nearly a quarter century. Because of his work, he takes OSHA’s general duty clause to heart. That clause, Soos notes, requires furnishing a safe working environment for employees. “And a planned maintenance program,” he says, “is the best security for shop owners to keep employees safe for now and for the future.” And take it from Soos, a senior project engineer with the Automotive Lift Institute: vehicle lifts can, and do, break down over time, making periodic inspections and maintenance imperative. “The majority of lifts are made out of steel, which is corrosive,” Soos notes. They’re “made of the same steel as automotive bodies—they rot from the corrosion, the rust.” An American National Standards Institute (ANSI) national regulation covers lift inspections and requires that every installed vehicle lift be inspected at least once per year. But that’s not enough, Soos says. Body shop employees need to be vigilant with regard to checking lifts continuously. Otherwise, issues can arise with lift equipment like hydraulic hoses that can leave shops susceptible to OSHA citations or violations of city codes. “As you become familiar with any piece of equipment,” Soos notes, “you become complacent, as you rely on that product to do what it’s supposed to do, day in and day out.” And complacency, the engineer notes, can lead to workplace injuries involving lifts. For evidence of that fact, type the term “vehicle lift injury” into an Internet search engine and note the thousands of recent incidents—including deaths—involving that key piece of body shop equipment. 50 fenderbender.com | January 2020
Fortunately, such unfortunate workplace incidents can largely be avoided if body shops iron out clearly defined procedures for inspecting and maintaining their lifts— steps like those indicated below.
Purchase a certified lift.
Soos, who tested his first automotive lift in 1995, suggests that shop owners do their homework up front before purchasing a lift. If they don’t heed that advice, shop operators open themselves up to potentially being liable in the case of a workplace injury. “With a certified automotive lift,” Soos explains, “you know that it was designed correctly by a duly represented engineering staff, and that there are drawings and calculations that back up the design and the strength factors. If [shop owners] purchase a certified automotive lift that’s a great start to the safety equation. And, if they don’t, then you have no idea of the history of a particular product.”
Utilize qualified inspectors.
In Soos’ experience, certified lift inspectors leave no stone unturned when examining lifts. Not only does a certified inspector typically apply a serialized, dated and signed label to each lift that passes an inspection—making it clear to all when a lift was last inspected—but their exhaustive knowledge of lifts tends to provide peace of mind to all involved, as well. After all, Soos notes, before certified inspectors can even step foot on a shop floor, they must pass written examinations, practical experience testing, and have a written quality system. “They also have to sign a code of ethics,” he adds, in reference to qualified lift inspectors, “saying, ‘I’m taking responsibility for the safety of this product and,
today, as I perform this inspection, it is safe to be used by this lift operator.’”
Keep written documentation.
Shop staff would be well-advised to keep notes of every inspection that’s performed on their lifts. Such documentation can ease any shop safety concerns expressed by insurers, OSHA, or corporate health and safety directors, Soos says. Otherwise, businesses like body shops run the risk of being fined several thousands of dollars by organizations like OSHA if they can’t prove that an annual lift inspection was conducted by a certified inspector, for example.
Dales Soos has tested automotive lifts
two-minute, ‘Hey, you press this button and it goes up’ type of thing. “When OSHA’s giving out citations, they’re [largely] based on lack of operator training. … You know, it’s not simply purchase a product, install it, and forget about it.”
Implement a maintenance program.
Similar to how vehicles need to have their tires rotated every 5,000 miles, or their transmission fluid changed every 50,000 miles, automotive lifts require meticulous—and fairly frequent—maintenance. For example, hydraulic lifts require periodic filter or fluid changes, as the manufacturer’s instructions dictate. “Replace wire ropes [i.e. electrical cables] periodically,” Soos suggests. “Just like the tires on your vehicle, they will fail after a certain amount of time. “And one thing that most people don’t think about as a replacement item are the hydraulic hoses; they’re susceptible to fatigue by age.”
Do daily examinations.
“Any authorities having jurisdiction are looking to reduce the liability for a company and the exposure, legally, from injuries that can occur there,” Soos says. “It’s the report that conveys all that information and the specifics. They’ll generally ask if there’s been an inspection performed on [a lift], and ask to see the paperwork.” Often he adds, “it’s the insurance company that’s driving this. They say, ‘Hey, you’ve got a piece of equipment here; where’s the certification on it? We’re not going to issue a certificate to you for insurance unless you have a certified product here.’”
Thoroughly train lift operators.
Established ALOIM (automotive lift operation inspection and maintenance) standards dictate that every certified automotive lift instructional package includes various elements like a lifting points guide that identifies where vehicles are to be picked up, and a safety tips card. In Soos’ view, training of a shop’s lift operators must include an exhaustive review of such equipment manufacturer instructions. “This is probably the biggest element that’s misunderstood,” he says. “The training of a lift operator isn’t a
The ALI recommends that shop employees regularly check lifts and report any irregularities or concerns to their supervisors. Items that should be addressed daily include: a check for any corrosion, cracks, or leaks, or low fluid levels, and observance of any unusual noises. If those checks aren’t done daily, lift maintenance can become unwieldy, in Soos’ experience. That’s why he hates to hear shop workers gripe about being forced to perform daily walkaround checks of their workplaces’ lifts. “It’s frustrating to hear that when it’s something that can easily be performed in 3–5 minutes,” Soos says. “What do you see the flight crew do before a plane leaves the ground? You see them do a walkaround of the aircraft,” he says. “Everything that has a safety implication, like an aircraft, any time that crews come on shift, they’re checking all their equipment to make sure that it’s in tip-top condition.” January 2020 | fenderbender.com 51
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PROCESS DRIVEN R YA N C R O P P E R
Dealing with Life’s Challenges
How to maintain poise as a leader, even amid major, unexpected events in your personal life
Long ago, one of my eventual mentors
showed up at our 20 Group meeting, to be voted in. So, we were questioning him, and he said something I’ll never forget. He said “Hey, my name is Tim Beal, and I have a shop in Arizona. I work a couple days per month, and I travel the rest of the time.” I remember thinking, Is this some kind of joke?” At that time, I was working 15 hours per day. But, I thought about it a bit and came to a realization: I could probably learn something from this guy. Well, we voted him, and I learned that Tim had been diagnosed with a brain tumor. And, during his big health scare, he went into his shop virtually every day and wrote down his usual tasks, and started assigning many of them to his employees. Initially, Tim didn’t know if he’d ever come back from his big surgery. But, he eventually did, and when Tim returned to his shop it was running even better than when he left. So, I’ve taken that concept, and I apply it as my business gets busier and busier. At least once per year I sit back and look at the duties I’m doing and I write them down. I note the duties I have that others could, theoretically, handle. Then, I start assigning those tasks out until I get my workload back to a manageable point. Because you just never know what a new day could throw your way. You and your spouse might be blessed with a pregnancy. Or, a loved one could be hospitalized. As a matter of fact, I got to work this morning and I had an employee whose mom just went into a coma. You have to be as prepared as possible for life’s unexpected events. Especially as a business leader.
That’s why it’s important to take inventory—either daily, monthly, or quarterly—and evaluate your usual duties, deciding if it’s something that somebody else on staff could handle. And guess what: When you say, “Hey, I need this off my plate,” employees usually take a lot of pride in taking those projects on, in my experience. It’s also important that, as a leader, you set your business up to survive if you need to take time away from the job. If you believe that you have to be there for your business to run correctly then, chances are, you’re making some mistakes. You need to strive for your shop to run as well—if not better—when you’re gone. The epitome of being a great leader is that you don’t need to be on-site for things to go right. If you think about it, in some cases, shop owners actually slow their business down when they’re there. I know when I’m in the office, I might say, “Hey, let’s sit down and have a meeting about this.” But, if I’m not here, then my employees simply do their jobs the way they’ve been taught to do them. If you want to set your
shop up for success and growth, you have to be able to step away and have it run similarly. In a worst-case scenario, you at least learn what fails when you step away. It’s important to be prepared for life’s challenges. One thing I preach to my staff is that my personal life will never affect their lives. Nothing that ever happens in my life will make it so you can’t go home on time. Nothing that happens in my life will ever keep you from getting a paycheck. I can tell you that my life is more in order now than it was 15 years ago. Here’s proof: I was on a vacation recently in Mexico and had been gone for 5 or 6 days when an employee called me with a random question. He didn’t realize I had been out of the shop. It was a major relief to me to know that my absence wasn’t severely impacting anyone’s life. Earlier in my career, I would spend half my vacation taking work-related phone calls. Life throws unexpected challenges your way. But, as a business leader, if you empower your staff correctly, then you don’t have to be there to have your business keep rolling along smoothly.
RYA N C R O P P E R is the owner of Able Body Shop, with three locations in Anchorage, Alaska, and Total Truck Accessory Center.
E M A I L : r c r o p p e r @ ab l e b o d y s h o p .c o m
January 2020 | fenderbender.com 53
CASE STUDY ODESSA
WARRENSBURG WHITEMAN AFB
54 fenderbender.com | January 2020
GAUGING CRM EFFECTIVENESS A LOOK AT HOW ONE SHOP CUSTOMIZED ITS CRM TO INCREASE LOYALTY BY MELISSA STEINKEN
PHOTOGRAPHY BY AARON LINDBERG
While close to 70 percent of collision repair shop respondents in the 2019 FenderBender Industry Survey say they use an electronic management system, only 25 percent use a type of customer relationship management (CRM) software. According to Invesp, 60 percent of customers say no four times before saying yes and 48 percent of salespeople never make a single follow-up call. Yet, collision repair shop operators have options to solve those issues. CRMs are typically incorporated into management systems. For example, CCC has a CRM that helps a shop staff touch base with customers frequently throughout the repair process. ALLDATA Market helps shops
receive customer reviews and retain clients with service reminders. Assured Performance Network offers ShopOps Business Operating System, which offers features like letting customers book appointments online. Shop owner Casey Lund is part of the minority that uses their shop management’s CRM daily. Lund, owner of Warrensburg (Mo.) Collision, entered the family business in 2004, when his dad underwent heart surgery and needed an extra set of hands in the shop. In 2012, after spending a significant amount of time running the business, Lund decided to “draw a line in the sand.” He decided to push the shop into the future, and part of doing so required utilizing all of the technology available to his team.
January 2020 | fenderbender.com 55
When Lund graduated high school, his father specifically told him, “don’t touch any tools and stay out of the collision repair business.” Lund’s father didn’t want Casey to feel like he had to join the family business out of duty or obligation. So, Lund took the advice, went to school and got a business degree and his MBA, and then got a job at the University of Missouri, fundraising. For a while, Lund worked in the body shop while keeping his job at the university. In 2012, he decided his feather needed more help. That prompted Lund to focus solely on his duties at the repair facility. The body shop was not running smoothly. Lund was writing all the 56 fenderbender.com | January 2020
estimates, his father was repairing vehicles after his recovery and the only other employee was a painter. Between 2004 and 2012, the shop actually lost $5,000 in annual revenue. Lund decided the shop needed a few drastic changes to bring in more customers. So, he started to look at management systems that could be seamlessly incorporated into Warrensburg Collision’s operations. There was one main issue, though: the Missouri facility couldn’t afford a management system until it grew more.
In 2012, Lund made every effort to grow his family’s shop. Lund implemented what he calls the
“X-ray department” into the repair process. He started to have the team work on disassembling the car completely before beginning the repair process. Discovering all damage up front helped the team avoid parts supplements down the line, and it helped reduce the shop’s cycle time. By reducing cycle time, the team was able to work on more cars and bring in more money each month. Lund also started to hire more employees and work on achieving OEM certifications. Today, the body shop has 17 OEM certifications. Once revenue picked up, Lund discovered the shop needed a system that could manage not only the schedule of cars but the shop’s customers. He added the CCC management
Cycle Time Surge By focusing on using every element of its management system, the staff at Warrensburg Collision lowered its cycle time by nearly five days.
“I like that any employee can step in for each other and pull up the customer’s file to find all the information about a repair,” Lund says. To keep repair documents as thorough as possible, Lund has each member of his team write down notes about every conversation they have with customers. “I’ve learned that transparency goes a long way with building customer loyalty,” he says. “People like having the option to have access to more information.” Not only has the CRM helped Lund communicate with customers more frequently, but it also helps eliminate some steps of the repair process. At the end of the repair, when the car is paid for and delivered, the team can transfer that data and payment details to QuickBooks simply by pressing a button.
WARRENSBURG COLLISION LOCATION:
WARRENSBURG, MO. SIZE:
13,600 SQUARE FEET STAFF:
20 EMPLOYEES (11 BACK END, 9 ADMINISTRATIVE) AVERAGE MONTHLY CAR COUNT:
system into the shop. He wanted a system that could consolidate all repair information and documents at once and also save notes about customers in each repair document.
Lund’s team can even search for OEM repair procedures through the management software, he says. As the years passed, Lund added modules to the system so that he could contact customers effortlessly throughout repairs (See Sidebar: How to Get the Most Out of the CRM). He recently added Podium to the system, which was an additional $500 per month. One other additional module allowed the CRM to contact the customer to know the car is ready for pickup.
Lund discovered fairly quickly that the best use of the CRM is to use it to have multiple touchpoints with customers. At minimum, the system reminds a staff member to call the client two times during the repair process. The customer receives a phone call update after the “Xray” portion of the repair, and once the parts are ordered and the team creates the week’s schedule, the customer receives a second phone call explaining how long the repair is expected to take. Then, during the repair process, the customer might receive automatic text updates from the CRM and then one final phone call notifying them about the car’s delivery. Simply using a management system and keeping a detailed record of the repair process helped Lund’s shop reduce its cycle time from 11 days to 6.3 days.
While most of the CRM features increase customer loyalty and work well, Lund says he wishes he could have the option to text a customer whenever he wants through the system. Right now, Lund’s CRM only allows him to send text messages to customers after they drop off their vehicle at the shop. Yet, it’d be helpful to text a reminder about the drop-off appointment. Yet, despite the one small hiccup, Lund was able to increase the body shop’s revenue to its current $3.4 million. Today, the shop operates with 20 employees in a facility that is 13,600 square feet.
HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF THE CRM LUKE SALTER , OPER ATIONS OFFICER FOR TRUBILT COLLISION CENTER IN E AU CL AIRE , WIS., HAS LE ARNED THE INSIDE TRICKS TO USING A CRM. HE SHARES HIS TOP FIVE TIPS FOR GET TING THE MOST INFORMATION OUT OF THE SYSTEM.
Tip No. 1: Use the system as a visual management tool. Salter typically pulls up his CRM application on his phone and refers to the data provided as he walks around the shop floor.
Tip No. 2: Build files electronically. At the end of the repair, the customer can sign the documents via the CRM and then those documents can easily be stored electronically.
Tip No. 3: Increase customer reviews substantially. Salter recommends sending a survey through the CRM at the end of the repair. The software can send an electronic survey or ask the customer to leave a Google review.
Tip No.4: Save time on pictures of damage. The CRM lets the customer take pictures of his or her car, send them in and upload a picture of the VIN to the repair shop.
Tip No. 5: Cultivate customer communication. Salter has noticed more of his customers prefer texting over phone calls because they might be at school or work during the day.
January 2020 | fenderbender.com 57
Customer complaints can be tricky, but keeping your cool as a leader is paramount
Elissa Larremore often fills in for her cus-
tomer service representatives if they’re out sick or on vacation. One day, she was sitting at her front desk post and received a phone call. A customer was extremely disgruntled, asking “Where’s my car? Why haven’t I heard from the shop about my vehicle?” Larremore, the owner of CBS Collision Centers in Shreveport and Bossier City, La., was shocked. She spent the next 15 minutes running around her shop, try58 fenderbender.com | January 2020
ing to find out why the car wasn’t scheduled for delivery. She found out that parts had been backordered, causing the delay. A technician and CSR had not kept notes on the repair or updated the team. Instead of holding it against employees, Larremore used it as a learning opportunity. “Communication is key between you and your team,” Larremore says. “You need to have communication during release meetings and keep notes on the repairs.” Since then, she has focused on view-
ing the situation from her employees’ perspective, enabling her to observe problems as they occur and fix them on the fly. Larremore previously served on the 2018 board of directors for the Automotive Service Association. Shop owners face unexpected challenges every day. In fact, the business requires it. A customer never expects to be in an accident, after all. At the end of the day, the important part of the process is how the unexpected situation is handled.
BY MELISSA STEINKEN
Was it handled with grace and dignity, or did the shop owner end up losing a longterm customer in the process? Bob McSherry, the owner of North Haven (Conn.) Auto Body, is an owner known for his “hot temper.” As the main representative of his brand, he’s learned how to set frustration aside and face problems head on. He’s spoken out in the industry about owning your leadership style since 2012. Larremore and McSherry share how a leader can maintain composure in the face of customer-related challenges.
Trick No. 1: Stay informed so you don’t overreact.
Sound simple enough? Well, if a shop owner doesn’t know the problems with the repairs, then he or she can’t anticipate a customer asking about them. Larremore recommends that shop owners conduct two production meetings per day. She says to keep them concise. During the meetings, go over whether parts have been ordered, any parts delays, and where the car is in the repair process. Have one meeting in the morning and one meeting right after a lunch break. It’s important for the owner to not hide in the back of the shop and let the front office staff handle complaints. Larremore says the owner needs to face issues head-on. McSherry also stresses the importance of listening as an owner. Shop owners need to not only listen to a customer but also listen to their staff. Employees might have provided an incorrect answer but had a reason as to why that occurred.
Trick No. 2: Embrace change instead of fighting unexpected hiccups.
“We’re not in the old-school collision repair era,” Larremore says. “You can’t just bring in a car and one person can immediately work on it.” Larremore says that, in order for a leader to be able to handle change, he or she needs to lead a team that can adapt as well. One way Larremore cuts down on surprises associated with repair changes is by encouraging her team to update all tasks in CCC ONE. When there’s a change in the repair,
one technician can go into the management system, push a red flag button and assign a task to another technician. This way, there’s less likely to be a surprise on any end of the repair. McSherry switched over in June 2019 to a management system that allows technicians to take detailed notes. He often references notes on every repair before talking to customers. And, if a customer was called or texted, that information will also be stored in a system that anyone on his team can access.
Trick No. 3: Cross-train employees to fill in during an emergency.
In case of emergencies when the shop’s team is missing multiple employees, cross-training can help solve issues. If the estimators are all busy with customers, then another CSR can step in and help someone else because he or she would have been trained to know how to fill in for that role. Larremore says she cross-trains all her estimating, CSR and parts employees at her two shop locations. “Sometimes it’s the perfect storm, and a CSR will be out sick and someone else has to fill in,” Larremore notes. She also says owners should train their employees in person, because then the staff members can learn the same habits the shop leaders have.
Trick No. 4: Step away from the situation.
McSherry says the best way to calm down in the heat of the moment is to take a short walk away from the confrontation. He will take a short walk around the outside of his buildings to make sure he can take a few breaths and fully assess the problem. He says that it’s best to keep his cool and not let the employee see how it affects him. If walking away does not help him refocus or gives the customer a moment to refocus, McSherry will ultimately let the customer go. He says this scenario is rare.
Trick No. 5: Have a back-up plan.
Larremore once had all her work notes on her phone and suddenly at night, her phone screen went dark and stopped working.
She panicked. What would the shop owner do without her notes? Fortunately, Larremore’s phone turned back on after about an hour, but she says she learned a lesson she’ll never forget. Now, she takes handwritten notes, as well. While she still keeps notes on the notes app on her phone, she also has a stack of legal pads that she records information on, as well. She also tries to train her team to recognize customers that have problems. If the customer is upset at the beginning of the repair, it’s likely they will be upset at the end of the repair, to some extent. as well. Or, if the situation throws the employee for a loop, then step away from the conversation for a moment. Larremore suggests stepping away and discussing a solution with another employee to gain perspective. “Anger never solves anything,” Larremore says. “My employees take their cues from me. If they see me acting angry with a customer, then they will do the same.” McSherry comes equipped to every customer interaction with a few rehearsed lines. If the customer is being rude to him or his staff, he’ll simply stop the topic of conversation and attempt to diffuse the situation. He says stopping the customer gives the employee involved time to formulate their thoughts.
Trick No. 6: Be fully present with the customer.
“One of the worst things a shop owner can do is ignore a customer complaint,” Larremore says. “Don’t dodge their calls, don’t hide in the back and wait for the customer service representative to handle it. Head it off before it gets bad.” Larremore says if customer challenges aren’t dealt with, the customer is more likely to escalate the situation and become more upset. She leaves behind frustration, anger and fatigue. Instead, she focuses on listening and makes sure to let customers share concerns. A shop owner needs to own up to a mistake made, McSherry says. The owner needs to listen and then tell the customer how it’s going to be fixed. Most importantly, the shop team must act with a sense of urgency in fixing the issue—he suggests fixing the car the same day if it’s on-site. January 2020 | fenderbender.com 59
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60 fenderbender.com | January 2020
IN THE TRENCHES STEVE MORRIS
Achieve Your Goals Five easy steps for setting realistic goals
Happy New Year! When I was very new
to the collision repair business, I had a boss that always said the same thing on the morning of January 2. He said, “Everyone, the holidays are over; now let’s get to work!” He scoffed at the idea of making New Year’s resolutions and he always seemed to know what to work on to be successful and move his business forward. Making New Year’s resolutions is a long-standing tradition in the U.S. and recent research shows that 61 percent of us admit to making resolutions each year. Unfortunately, only about 8 percent of us are successful in achieving those resolutions. Most people admit that they fail their resolution before January 31. An article last year in Inc. magazine cited a survey of 2000 people and listed these as the top five resolutions: 1. Diet or eat healthier (71 percent) 2. Exercise more (65 percent) 3. Lose weight (54 percent) 4. Save more and spend less (32 percent) 5. Learn a new skill or hobby (26 percent) It seems to me that we’ve got it all wrong when it comes to making these resolutions and several quotable notables agree. Mark Twain observed, “New Year’s Day: Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.” Why is it so difficult to achieve our resolutions? I think that the resolutions we make are not framed properly to be achievable because they are vague and largely negative. For example, losing weight is a negative construct. Nobody likes losing, even if the losing results in something positive. Most importantly, though, is that resolutions are not S.M.A.R.T. goals. What do I mean by SMART goals? SMART goals are established using a specific set of criteria that ensures your goals are attainable. SMART is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. These terms are slightly different than those used by the inventor of the SMART goal setting process back in 1981. The November 1981 issue of Management Review contained a paper by George T. Doran called There's a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management's goals and objectives. The paper discussed the importance of
objectives and the difficulty of setting them. Here is a quote from Doran’s paper: “Ideally speaking, each corporate, department, and section objective should be: • Specific: target a specific area for improvement. • Measurable: quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress. • Assignable: specify who will do it. • Realistic: state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources. • Time-related: specify when the result(s) can be achieved. Notice that these criteria don't say that all objectives must be quantified on all levels of management. In certain situations it is not realistic to attempt quantification, particularly in staff middle-management positions. Practicing managers and corporations can lose the benefit of a more abstract objective in order to gain quantification. It is the combination of the objective and its action plan that is really important. Therefore serious management should focus on these twins and not just the objective.” When writing a SMART goal, you work through each of those terms to construct a goal that states exactly what needs to be accomplished, when it needs to be accomplished by, and how you’ll know when you’ve successfully reached your goal. Setting goals this way is obviously better than making resolutions, because it eliminates generalities, guesswork, and negative verbiage and sets a definitive “win” opportunity all the while making it easy to track your progress to the goal. Let’s unpack each of these terms and apply some real world examples to each one so we can better understand how to use this system.
The first term is “specific” and is the foundation piece of the system. Specific goals are more likely to be attained than general goals and resolutions. To set a specific goal, you have to address the five “W” questions. • Who: Who is involved? • What: What do I want to accomplish? • Where: Where will the actions occur? • When: When will the actions occur, within what timeframe? • Why: What are the specific reasons and benefits of accomplishing this goal? As an example, a general goal or resolution might sound like, “I want to get in shape” whereas a specific goal is, “I will join Gold’s Gym and do workouts every week.” A financial goal that is general in nature might sound like, “I want to save more and spend less” whereas a specific goal is, “I want to pay off credit card debt.” The next element is “measurable” and, in a nutshell, refers to the ability to track your goal using numbers. If you notice in the examples above, we don’t have any numbers and measurements in place. A well-constructed SMART goal of doing workouts should sound like this: “I will join the gym and do four workouts of one hour each per week.” Paying off credit card debt goals sounds like, “I will pay off $3,000 of credit card debt by applying at least $150 to that debt each month.” By adding a measurable element to your goal, you can easily track your progress and also be aware when you get off course toward your goal. I’ll go over the last three elements of SMART goals in my next column. For now, there is one very important step that you must take when establishing your SMART goals. It sounds so simple, yet most people fail to execute on it. The most important step is write it down.
S T E V E M O R R I S is the director of operations for Pride Collision Centers, a seven-location MSO located in Southern California. He is an Accredited Automotive Manager (AAM) and ASE-certified master technician.
E M A I L : s t ev e m @ p r i d e au t o b o d y.c o m A R C H I V E : f e n d e r b e n d e r.c o m /m o r r i s
January 2020 | fenderbender.com 61
SHOP MANAGER SUBURBAN AUTO BODY ST. PAUL, MINN.
Dennis O’Connell Jr. “YOU NEVER STOP PRESSING FORWARD WITH DIFFERENTIATING AND DOING A GOOD JOB FOR PEOPLE.”
Standup Individual Shop manager Dennis O’Connell Jr. makes connecting with customers and employees a daily focus at his family-run business.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JESSIENA LAKE 62 fenderbender.com | January 2020
January 2020 | fenderbender.com 63
DENNIS O’CONNELL JR.
Dennis O’Connell Jr.’s family inspired his passion for collision repair. His father, Dennis O’Connell Sr., started Suburban Auto Body in St. Paul, Minn., in 1979 and has been there nearly every day since with no signs of slowing down. Nowadays, O’Connell Jr. is a shop manager, with his primary duties being marketing and dealer accounts. “My title is president, but my real job title or position is to do whatever my father asks me to do,” O’Connell Jr. says with a laugh. “He reminds me of that all the time. It’s not the worst. It’s the second-best job there.” Business isn’t slowing either, despite fierce competition. “We’re challenged having high-quality, high-output first-class shops in this area,” O’Connell Jr. explains. “When there’s more than just one good name, you never stop pressing forward with differentiating and doing a good job for people.” O’Connell Jr. says the business is incredibly busy, which he appreciates. They retain a heavy workload nearly year round. “We’re surrounded by other like-minded shops who are investing in the future,” O’Connell Jr. says. “It takes a lot of thoughtful babysitting, thoughtful execution, and thoughtful marketing to differentiate yourself.” The auto body climate in the Twin Cities area serves the O’Connells well. Suburban Auto Body has a staff of 24, and an annual revenue of nearly $7 million. O’Connell Jr. works hard to make his shop stand out and rise above the competition by forming meaningful relationships with customers, employees and dealerships. AS TOLD TO COURTNEY WELU
I’m the person who fills in missing gaps.
I spend a lot of my day taking over the responsibilities of other employees who might be sick. If someone’s missing and their position needs filling, I fulfill the need. I think of it like a position on a basketball team; there’s five people on the team, but there’s a sixth man waiting on the bench to go in when needed. I believe that our shop is welcoming to employees because it’s not a micromanaged operation—it’s a process where we all have a part. There’s a certain level of autonomy in doing your job here, and people are allowed to fit themselves into the process however they want. It sounds like I’m being lax, but we work in a crazy environment, and it helps that no one has to check in with the boss 64 fenderbender.com | January 2020
constantly. Everyone is empowered to make the best possible decision on their own. There are many management styles that are much more strict, but our flow is determined by each person in his or her own process. I’m there to serve our employees. It’s the owner’s job to make sure that every one of their employees has the tools they need to do the best possible job. If I’m serving my employees by assisting them, we can all have a servant attitude toward our customers.
my responsibilities. I’m there to make things smoother for everyone else, both employees and customers. I want to help our customers accomplish what they’re setting out to do. Our shop should be a valuable resource so that customers can be informed of their options to help them make a decision. My typical workday consists of assisting employees, running parts, delivering customer cars, picking up and delivering vehicles from fleets, and then, importantly, marketing.
I try to make everything easy for our customers. If someone needs a car
Marketing at satellite locations takes up a significant part of my time. One of my
delivered, or a rental car driven to their house, that’s part of what I do. I consider this an “assisting” part of
primary responsibilities is overseeing our dealership accounts at satellite locations. I keep up with all of our accounts
SUBURBAN AUTO BODY LOCATION:
ST. PAUL, MINN. OWNER:
DENNIS O’CONNELL SR. SIZE:
10,000 SQUARE FEET (3 BUILDINGS) STAFF:
26 (4 ESTIMATORS, 3 BLUEPRINTERS, 2 CSR, 4 DETAIL, 3 PAINT, 8 TECHS, 2 MANAGER/OWNERS AVERAGE MONTHLY CAR COUNT:
$7 MILLION Variety Show Dennis O’Connell Jr. handles a multitude of tasks for his family’s high-volume business, but he stays on top of his schedule by making specific to-do lists.
Three days per week, I go to one of our satellite locations and make a game plan for what the rest of my day will look like. Circumstances change constantly, and the list of things that need doing gets updated with or without me. I always try to stay on top of my responsibilities with specific to-do lists for both marketing and assisting employees and customers. At the end of my day, I also make a light list for the next morning when I come in. It can get busy so quickly, and the lists help orient my days even when the shop gets crazy. I structure my days by bookending.
with dealerships to ensure we’re doing a good job for our clients. Our certifications dictate to which dealerships we go. If I’m certified in Mazda, I go to the Mazda dealership to meet up with their service people and convince them that we’re worth sending over their customers. If they have a customer who calls and needs help because of an accident, we’ll be right there to help. Marketing at these satellite locations, both in respect to bringing in new customers and customer retention, is integral to my daily routine. I don’t usually take breaks in my daily workflow. Although breaks aren’t a
part of the structure of my day, my job includes many different tasks which
gives my day variety. In between tasks, I can chill out in my car, or catch up on calls or emails. But my workday is only so many hours, and I spend it as productively as possible. I purposefully stay away from things that are distracting. There are plenty of diversions that take me down a rabbit hole, and I want to stay focused on what’s most important. I make frequent to-do lists. The first
thing I do every morning is download my father’s to-do list for me, made up of items he sees as opportunities for me. Then I go to our shop next door to do a walkthrough and see if any of the employees have anything more for me to add to my list.
I may not have a full plan for all of my day right away, but I always know what I need to do before I leave. I have a handful of items on my checklist of things to do, which could be related to business or the management of certification pieces, which require many steps on my part. Bookending my days with structure allows the middle of the day to remain open for all of the fun, unexpected things that come up in the day. The most essential thing I do is create and maintain relationships. I think one
thing we do especially well as a company is the unseen value-added things that take the stress of an accident off of our customers. We want to form a meaningful relationship with our customers, and help them as best we can. Whether it’s with customers, employees, dealerships, or any of the other people I deal with on a daily basis, I want to create and maintain mutually beneficial, valuable relationships for all of us. January 2020 | fenderbender.com 65
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66 fenderbender.com | January 2020
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January 2020 | fenderbender.com 67
MAACO OF BRIDGEPORT
Feeling a Ripple Effect Philadelphia-area shop owner John Terrizzi Jr.'s staff sets aside money from each repair to save for valuable training.
two facilities project to combine for $2.25 million in revenue this year—no small feat considering Maaco of Bridgeport brought in around $750,000 in its first year in operation, in 2013. “We always ask how people find us, and we get a sizable amount from social media” says Terrizzi Jr., whose business garners 4.5-star reviews on Google. “It’s important to get as much exposure as you can and keep the word in front of people.”
Secure multiple fleet accounts.
The keys to effortlessly improving your shop’s bottom line B Y K E L LY B E AT O N
John Terrizzi Jr. got his start in the automotive industry at the age of 10, cleaning tools for technicians at his family’s shop. Things were far simpler then. More than four decades later, Terrizzi Jr. is the owner of a pair of Philadelphia-area Maaco facilities. And, like most owners, he has taken his share of lumps while operating his collision repair businesses. When Terrizzi Jr. first opened Maaco of Bridgeport earlier this decade, for example, he got started with around $25,000 in working capital. In retrospect, he needed to borrow $60,000 more, as the shop owner noted in a 2017 FenderBender article (fenderbender.com/creatingcashflow). “The business itself has changed in my lifetime—many times over,” Terrizzi Jr. said recently. “If you want to be in this business, you have to be fully invested. It’s a much more intense business now. It’s not just about slapping fenders on a car, or pulling a frame; there’s so many more components now.” That means money needs to be set aside for training, and equipping a body shop to meet the demands of today’s advanced vehicles. Fortunately for Terrizzi Jr., his early days spent operating Maaco of Bridgeport have taught him how to create an influx of cash flow without a ton of effort. Here are his biggest suggestions for doing so:
Market via social media.
At this point in his career, Terrizzi Jr. has learned all the time-tested methods for marketing a body shop. Namely, pound the pavement—get facetime by having a table and banner at local charity events, and by sponsoring little league athletics. But, nowadays, there are even easier ways to market a body shop in a manner that nets a return: via social media. 68 fenderbender.com | January 2020
Since employees at his facilities, Maaco of Bridgeport and his second facility, Maaco of Manayunk, tend to be fairly young and tech-savvy, Terrizzi Jr. has encouraged them to spread the word about the shops on platforms like Facebook. The Philadelphia-area Maaco employees frequently post pictures of repair work they’ve done, and the community has clearly taken notice, considering Terrizzi Jr.’s
Save from every job possible.
Though it isn’t always comfortable to do so, both Maaco of Bridgeport and Maaco of Manayunk save $20–$30 from each repair to build a budget for future expenditures like training. Specifically, the staff transfers .05-1 percent of every job, less parts cost, to a dedicated bank account. “That can [add up] quite substantially,” Terrizzi Jr. notes. “It can get up to $6,000, which we use for I-CAR training.” Terrizzi Jr. has learned that what seems like a drop in the bucket today can have a significant ripple effect down the line. While a shop owner can’t save significant sums of money overnight, they’re likely to over the long run provided they use time-tested methods. While he wishes he would’ve borrowed six figures when starting Maaco of Bridgeport six years ago, Terrizzi Jr. learned his lesson before long. “Had I known the model a little bit better, I would’ve borrowed about $100,000 more,” he says, “and it would’ve been an easier ride. But we figured it out. And we’re in a better position now.”
Creating an Influx of Cash Flow
In his early days leading a Maaco shop, Terrizzi Jr. had just one fleet account with which to work. Thus, he felt the need to expend a ton of energy on keeping that client happy. In the years since, he has begun partnering with several fleet clients, like landscaping companies and sizable rental car businesses. “They’re all fairly regular accounts,” Terrizzi Jr. explains, “where we can get a constant flow of business. “When we were depending on one fleet account, when they would slow up then we would slow up, and we couldn’t keep a mix of customers.”
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OUTSIDE THE LINES JASON BOGGS
Three simple lessons to improve struggling businesses
sure with you. I rarely watch TV, but when I do, I love watching episodes of The Profit. If you aren’t familiar with the show’s concept here’s a quick overview: Marcus Lemonis, aka The Profit, surveys a struggling business (at their request) and decides whether he can help turn things around and ultimately invest in the company. My question for you is, if The Profit dug into the details of your business, do you think he would be interested in investing in your company? There’s an awful lot of value in getting yourself in the position to answer that question with a confident “yes.” While the types of businesses featured on the show vary greatly, there are very few unique problems. The most common problem these struggling businesses face is not knowing their numbers. And, for the record, knowing how much money is in your bank account today doesn’t qualify as knowing your numbers. I recently watched an episode that featured an Italian restaurant in New Jersey, my home state. I think there is a lot of wisdom we can gain from this episode and apply it to our industry. If a restaurant is struggling most people would assume the food isn’t very good. However, this restaurant has excellent food. While it is very important to have a good product in our industry, this restaurant proves that it’s not the only thing needed for success. When The Profit asked to see their numbers, they brought out a notebook with handwritten details for daily sales. The last time I saw data on how many shops in our industry used accounting software, it was around 10 percent. If you fall into the 90 percent that don’t own an accounting package, I strongly recommend joining the 10 percent. Accurate numbers will help you make almost every important decision you make in your business. One of the exercises The Profit had the restaurant owner do, was to get the exact cost, to the penny, for each meal on the menu. When he went through that exercise, he found out that some menu items 70 fenderbender.com | January 2020
were priced to the customer at less than the amount it cost to make it. It would be an extremely valuable exercise to go through ten repair orders and figure out the exact cost on each one. In the restaurant example, they figured out how much it cost for a teaspoon of olive oil. I would recommend going to the same level and getting the cost for all the materials you used on each repair. I’m not talking about expenses here, just costs. Anything associated with labor, parts, materials, and sublet. You should be making 40 percent profit on whatever you sold the job for. If you don’t know how to figure that out, there are many people in the industry who would be happy to help you for free, your paint supplier being one of the obvious choices. Another one of the exercises The Profit made the restaurant owner do was walk around the perimeter of the building and parking lot. What he found was trash, weeds, and a worn-down looking place. We have the good fortune of working in an industry with a low consumer confidence level. Most people don’t have a good feeling when they think of auto body. That makes our job easy. With low expectations, it’s quite easy to impress. I encourage you to walk around your building and put on the customers’ glasses for a second. How does the place look compared to other professional office buildings you know? Do you do anything to make your place look attractive? If a stranger pulled into your lot, would they get the feeling you care about your property? If you don’t care about your own property, why would they think you will care about their vehicle?
The third thing I loved about this episode, was the story behind the restaurant. The owner was a father-andson duo who lost their mother/wife on September 11 in the World Trade Center attacks. The money that was used to start the business was from the settlement they received. Most of the people working in the restaurant didn’t know their story. When the owners shared their story with their staff, it immediately changed the morale. The employees went from working a job to realizing they were helping someone honor the memory of their loved one who was lost in tragedy. The owners embraced their story and started sharing with their customers, which gave the entire community a reason to patronize the restaurant. I love hearing the back stories of why people got into this industry. Most of them are unique and interesting. However, those stories are rarely shared with anyone involved in the business. Years ago, I attended the Disney Institute, where I learned how Disney ran their operations. One of their most important objectives is the be storytellers. When people hear a story of who they are dealing with, they find it much easier to relate to them and form a bond. I encourage you to think about your story and what makes you unique. Once you do that, share it with everyone. There are some simple steps to succeeding in any business, including collision repair. Know your numbers, set your business apart with curb appeal, and share your unique story.
JASON BOGGS is the owner of Boggs Auto Collision Rebuilders in Woodbury, N.J. He has attended the Disney Institute and Discover Leadership, and has studied lean manufacturing processes.
E M A I L : j a s o n @b o g g s au t o .c o m A R C H I V E : f e n d e r b e n d e r.c o m / b o g g s
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January 2020 | fenderbender.com 71
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