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FENDERBENDER.COM / FEBRUARY 2020

IS YOUR WEBSITE CUSTOMER FRIENDLY? PAGE 60

MAKE A TEAM PAY PLAN WORK FOR YOU PAGE 56

Strategies & Inspiration for Collision Repair Success

“If you’re not organized you can’t get a strategy to move your business forward.” ANDREW SUGGS, CO-OWNER OF EUROPEAN COLLISION REPAIR

RAINS:

7 HABITS FOR PRODUCTION MANAGER SUCCESS PAGE 33

STRATEGIC GROWTH HOW TO FOLLOW MARKET DEMANDS, SEIZE OPPORTUNITIES AND ADAPT TO CHANGE PAGE 42

YOUR ULTIMATE HIRING GUIDE

February 2020 | fenderbender.com 1 E 36 PAG


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February 2020 | fenderbender.com 3


SPONSORED CONTENT

Passing the Test with Toyota Genuine Parts Toyota Genuine replacement radiators and condensers are tested to the same high-quality standards as new vehicle parts.

After months of rigorous laboratory tests, Toyota engineers were ready to tackle realworld road testing of the new Toyota Genuine Radiator and Condenser product line in the harshest, extreme heat conditions. They found the ideal proving ground in the heart of California’s Mojave Desert. There, a stretch of road runs 31 miles along Interstate 15 from Baker, California, to Jean, Nevada. Temperatures reach up to 107 degrees and elevation jumps from 923 to over 4,700 feet. This route, named the Baker Grade, is infamous for its severe conditions and variables—which makes this desert road ideal for the ultimate test of quality. Toyota engineers challenged vehicles equipped with their new radiator and condenser product line on the legendary Baker Grade. The results proved that even in the extreme heat and changing elevation, the new parts passed the test and performed up to Toyota’s quality standards. All Toyota Genuine Parts are developed and tested from the beginning of the design process. Toyota emphasizes replacement part integrity. From the designers to the “takumis”, strict procedures ensure part accuracy and eliminate flaws throughout production.

PASSING THE TEST Before Toyota Genuine radiators and condensers hit the road, an extensive series of stringent laboratory tests must be executed and passed. Toyota Genuine Parts are tested to the same high-quality standards as new vehicle parts, and the quality control begins with checking individual parts relative to their original design standards. Radiators, specifically, must pass six stringent tests before moving forward to road testing. The product testing criteria starts

with radiation rate testing, followed by a ventilation resistance test, a passage resistance test, an air tightness test, a pressure resistance test, and, finally, a corrosion test. On the other hand, condensers must pass the following exacting laboratory tests: heat radiation performance, air flow restriction, flow path resistance, residual foreign substance, tube strength, pressure resistance, damage, repeated pressurization, and corrosion resistance dewing. Once all of the above individual tests have been executed and passed, the radiators and condensers move on to in-vehicle testing, ensuring the consistency, accuracy, and safety of the parts. This then leads to the Baker Grade, where the radiators and condensers are tested in extreme conditions—radiator coolant temperatures, heat exchanger air temperatures, and A/C performance are all evaluated.

THE GENUINE DIFFERENCE Toyota’s dedication to testing is unwavering, and a stark contrast to its aftermarket competitors. Most aftermarket parts are typically

developed after the vehicle goes on sale, and then rushed to market. Aftermarket parts can also be manufactured on the exact same production lines as other OEMs’ vehicle parts. When faced with a repair decision involving an aftermarket part, consider the extensive testing procedures Toyota Genuine Parts go through in order to ensure their quality. This genuine difference allows for technicians to have an easier replacement process and for customers to have peace of mind that their radiators and condensers will be of the superior quality associated with Toyota. Collision repair shops nationwide are touting the benefits of Toyota’s new Genuine Radiator and Condenser product line. Now they can ensure their repair processes meet Toyota standards for fit, function and reliability at “better than aftermarket” prices and with highly tested and quality genuine parts. Contact your Toyota Genuine Wholesale Parts dealer for more information, or visit toyotapartsandservice.com.


february

02.20 / VOLUME 22 / NUMBER 02

Plotting Improvement Georgia shop operator Andrew Suggs spurred efficiency by strategically streamlining shop processes.

F E AT U R E

PROFILE

C A SE STU DY

S H O P TA L K

36

42

56

64

Tips for finding top-notch, entrylevel job candidates to take your business to the next level.

Andrew Suggs has focused on SOPs and certifications to inspire business growth.

Due to a carefully implemented team pay plan, CSN Kingston’s staff is as motivated as ever.

BY MELISSA STEINKEN

BY MELISSA STEINKEN

‘HIRE LEARNING’ BY KELLY BEATON

CERTIFIED SUCCESS

GROUP THINK

DIVIDE AND CONQUER CARSTAR Liss Auto Body’s coowners divvy up daily tasks that match each other’s strengths.

STEVE GLASS

BY MELISSA STEINKEN

Printed in the U.S.A. COPYRIGHT ©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. February 2020 | fenderbender.com 5


TAB LE OF CONTENTS

FEBRUARY

QUICK FIX

10

22

29

A look at key I-CAR changes for 2020

Accommodating for ADAS repairs

13

25

FenderBender’s sister publication hits the Internet

VIEWPOINT

30

3-D measuring’s role in productivity

How to take advantage of new SBA standards

Fix Auto Silverdale

ANALYSIS

NUMBERS

15

26

AWARDS INSIGHT

LIGHT HITS

Knowing when to expand a business

Shops’ lawsuit versus insurers dismissed by court

17

DRIVER’S SEAT Pushing beyond your comfort zone

All on Display Fix Auto Silverdale captures potential customers’ attention with a unique glass facade.

ADAPT

SNAP SHOP

33

THE BIG IDEA Get the most out of production staffers BY KEVIN RAINS

30

AS E ASY AS... 1 2 3

POST A JOB RECEIVE QUALIFIED APPLICANTS GROW YOUR TEAM

USE CODE: AJC123 TO TAKE $100 OFF YOUR FIRST LISTING!

autojobcentral.com 6 fenderbender.com | February 2020

JOLLY SIENDA PHOTOGR APHY

PAST THE PAGE


S T R AT E G Y

51

60

70

Avoid firings with simple tweaks

How to create an attention-grabbing shop website

Steps for earning buy-in from young shop employees

63

72

Plotting timely goals that inspire business growth

Inspire your staff with a focus on positivity

BY STEVE MORRIS

BY JASON BOGGS

IDEA SHOP

52

SALES+MARKETING Master Google My Business’s setup

55

PROCESS DRIVEN

CUSTOMER SERVICE

UPDATE

IN THE TRENCHES

OUTSIDE THE LINES

Tips for building a cohesive staff BY RYAN CROPPER

GET T Y IMAGES

52

I push the limits and do what i love Because i'm a tech.

GET HANDS 0N. Sitting behind a desk all day? That’s not you.

Jumpstart your technical career in the transportation industry at TECHFORCE.ORG February 2020 | fenderbender.com 7


TAB LE OF CONTENTS

ONLINE EXTRAS

CLICK ON THE LOGO BELOW FOR PRODUCT INFORMATION

AutoNation

ADAPT

FenderBender Managment Conference

Nissan

TechForce Foundation

2020

AirPro Diagnostics

Axalta Coating Systems

I-CAR

PPG

Toyota

American Honda Motor Company

CARSTAR

Industrial Finishes

ProSpot

Vehicle Service Group

CCC Information Services

LAUNCH Tech USA

SATA/Dan-Am Company

Women's Industry Network

GENUINE PARTS

AUTEL

TECH USA

Auto Job Central

8 fenderbender.com | February 2020

ECS Automotive

Mitsubishi

Spanesi Americas


EDITORIAL Bryce Evans Vice President, Content and Events Anna Zeck Editorial Director Kelly Beaton Associate Editor Melissa Steinken Staff Writer

COLLISION

Nora Johnson Special Projects Editor Jordan Wiklund Special Projects Editor

C A S T

Hanna Bubser Editorial Intern Courtney Welu Editorial Intern 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 Ryan Hillenbrand Urb’s Garage and Collision Center Jesse Jacobson Heppner’s Auto Body

FenderBender’s

PODCAST NETWORK

Tiffany Menefee Pronto Body Shop Bob Pearson Pearson Auto Body Louie Sharp Sharp Auto Body Doug Voelzke Doug’s Custom Paint and Body

ART AND PRODUCTION

SERIES WITH NEW EPISODES EACH MONTH. Explore the industry’s biggest trends & most pressing topics.

Zach Pate Art Director Mitch Bradford Graphic Designer Fue Vang Graphic Designer Lauren Coleman Production Artist

SALES Chris Messer Vice President and Publisher 651.846.9462 / cmesser@10missions.com Andrew Johnson Associate Publisher 651.846.9459 / ajohnson@10missions.com

ADVANCE.

Nathan Smock Marketing Strategist 651.846.9452 / nsmock@10missions.com Ross Kirgiss Regional Advertising Sales 651.846.9485 / rkirgiss@10missions.com Shayna Smith Customer Success Representative 651.846.9460 / ssmith@10missions.com Jen George Client Service Specialist 651.846.9465 / jgeorge@10missions.com

10 MISSIONS MEDIA Jay DeWitt President Mariah Straub General Manager and Production Manager Meghann Moore Bookkeeper and Client Service Specialist Katie Cornet Event Coordinator Tiffany Fowler Senior Digital Media Strategist Kasey Lanenberg Marketing Communications Specialist Corey Steinhoff Administrative Assistant

DISRUPT. HOW I DID IT. MSO PODCAST. VISION.

HOW TO REACH US 571 Snelling Avenue North, St. Paul, MN 55104 tel 651.224.6207 fax 651.224.6212 web 10missions.com The annual subscription rate is $72 (U.S.A. only) for companies not qualified to receive complimentary copies of FenderBender. BACK ISSUES Past issue single copies are $8. Go to fenderbender.com/backissues LETTERS TO THE EDITOR editor@fenderbender.com ARTICLE REPRINTS For high-quality reprints or e-prints of articles in this issue call 651.846.9488 or email reprints@fenderbender.com. Opinions expressed in FenderBender are not necessarily those of 10 Missions Media, and 10 Missions Media does not accept responsibility for advertising content.

LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE SEARCH “COLLISIONCAST” IN APPS FOR APPLE AND ANDROID

PODCASTS

STITCHER

POCKET CASTS

AUTOMOTIVE GROUP

February 2020 | fenderbender.com 9


PAST THE PAGE DISCUSSIONS, FEEDBACK, CONTENT AND MORE FROM AROUND THE WEB

ARE YOUR EMPLOYEES IN COMPLIANCE? Every week, you can catch additional reporting and insights from experts in FenderBender’s Reporter’s Blog. A recent blog item (available at fenderbender.com/compliance) explores the potential impact of A.B. 5, a law that reclassifies many independent contractors as employees in California—a ruling some feel could set a trend for other areas, too. A.B. 5 serves as a reminder that shop owners need to make sure their full staff is compliant or else they risk a fine or lawsuit.

FenderBender News

Six days per week, FenderBender delivers collision repair–related news straight to your inbox. Sign up for our newsletters at fenderbender.com/subscribe. 10 fenderbender.com | February 2020

PODCAST PRIMER

Inside I-CAR’s Revamp

COLLISION C A S T

FenderBender produces five businessbuilding podcasts per month, and a recent episode examined I- CAR’s updated membership programming and revamped governance model. To hear an in-depth update from I- CAR CEO John VanAlstyne, visit fenderbender.com/podcasts.

JOIN US ONLINE fenderbender.com fenderbender.com/facebook twitter.com/fenderbendermag fenderbender.com/linkedin instagram.com/fenderbendermag

GETTY IMAGES

REPORTER'S BLOG


Essentials for Safe and Proper Honda and Acura Repairs

Collision Industry Support from the Source

Remain a cut above Maintain your edge as an American Honda Motor ProFirst Certified program collision center

:

Keeping Parts Ordering Simple y Promotional Pricing upfront while you write an estimate y Easy, streamlined ordering process saves time and reduces errors

You Supply the Tools and Skills, We’ll Equip You with the Latest Information. Search for Honda and Acura Genuine Parts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!

Techinfo.Honda.com Techinfo.Acura.com

ProFirst Certified program collision centers: y Meet and maintain strict certification program requirements y Receive access to the Honda and Acura Service Information Systems and Parts Catalogs y Appear on the Honda Owners and Acura Owners ProFirst Certified Shop Locator

ProFirstInfo.Honda.com Owners.Honda.com/Collision/ Owners.Acura.com/Collision/

February 2020 | fenderbender.com 11


12 fenderbender.com | February 2020


BY THE NUMBERS THE TOPIC S, TRENDS AND METRIC S DRIVING YOUR OPER ATION

THE VALUE OF 3-D MEASURING SYSTEMS The 2019 FenderBender Industry Survey indicates that 64 percent of responding body shops possess a 3-D measuring system with a current data subscription covering the last 10 model years. And, those shops that have a 3-D measuring system on their shop floor not only have a higher sales volume than competitors that don’t, but they also tend to have better technician productivity and better supplement ratios, too. Here’s a closer look at how shops with 3-D measuring at their disposal size up.

0%

10%

20%

30%

40%

50%

60%

70%

80%

90%

100%

Cycle time of 7 days or less Average supplement ratio of 15% or less Technician productivity of 110%+ HAVE 3-D MEASURING SYSTEMS

Total sales have grown over last 5 years

DON’T HAVE 3-D MEASURING SYSTEMS

GETTY IMAGES, STAFF GRAPHIC

FIND MORE ONLINE

In 2018, FenderBender took an extensive look at how utilizing a 3-D measuring system aided the shop floor at Bruce Hoecker’s collision repair center in Jefferson City, Mo. Namely, the innovative machinery helped with overall efficiency, and with regard to documentation for Riley Toyota and Riley Chevrolet Buick GMC. The computerized printouts the electronic measuring system provided “were good documentation to the insurance company,” Hoecker explained. Read the full article at fenderbender.com/measuring.

February 2020 | fenderbender.com 13


WHAT DO STRIKER BOLTS AND CENTER PILLAR TRIM HAVE IN COMMON? ONCE IS ENOUGH Single-use parts like these should be discarded once removed. Always look for this symbol: Always replace after every disassembly.

Stationary glass, safety restraint systems, mechanical components, emblems, fasteners, clips, bolts, screws, or interior trim pieces are often in this category. Refer to the Electronic Service Manual (ESM) for information specific to each model at nissan-techinfo.com.

COMPETITIVE PRICING*

Use CCC®, TraxPod™ or CollisionLink® to receive competitive pricing* on new Genuine Nissan Parts. Nobody stocks more Genuine Nissan Parts than your local Nissan Dealer.

TRUST THE ORIGINAL. GENUINE NISSAN PARTS. PartsAdvantage.NissanUSA.com

*Discount off MSRP for eligible popular part categories only. MSRP excludes all applicable taxes. Dealer sets actual price. See participating Dealer for details. Exclusions apply. Subject to part availability. Dealers not required to support all tools. Contact your Dealer for available parts ordering options that best meet your needs. Always wear your seat belt and please don't drink and drive. The Nissan names, logos and slogans are trademarks owned by or licensed to Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. and/or its North American subsidiaries. Other trademarks and trade names are those of their respective owners. ©2020 Nissan North America, Inc. All rights reserved.


CO

LLI

AI

IN

OWNER SCOTSMAN AUTO BODY LONG ISLAND, NY

R

AWARDS

AWARDS NOMINEE:

JOHN YAZAK—

FINES HE

T

T

AWARDS INSIGHT

P SION RE

FenderBender Awards Insights feature past FenderBender Award nominees. For more information, go to fenderbender.com/awards.

The Foundation Needed for Expansion BY COURTNEY WELU

John Yazak is no stranger to the auto body world. He left his home country of Turkey and has been in the American auto body business since 1986. In 2010, he opened the first location of the New York-based Scotsman Auto Body. In 2016 and 2017, Yazak expanded his business into two more Long Island–based shops. “I will probably continue to grow up a little more,” Yazak says. “My goal is six shops.” Yazak attributes the success of his expansions to his willingness to take opportunities when they come along—and the right timing. “When I first opened my shop about 2010, I started with zero cars,” he says. “I didn’t have anything.” Yazak’s business philosophy is about risk-taking. If you’re planning on expanding your business, be on the lookout for opportunities—and then take the plunge. Yazak thinks that other shop owners who want to expand need to search for opportunities everywhere, and embrace them when they come along. “Everybody wants to expand. As soon as they get an opportunity, they will,” Yazak says. “Keep your eyes open, and look for it.” If you’re thinking about a shop expansion in the near future but don’t know where to start, here are three key foundational ideas from Yazak’s success to keep in mind.

COURTESY JOHN YAZAK

Play to your strengths.

Yazak credits his ability to expand quickly and successfully to two strengths: customer reputation and positive insurance company relationships. “I’m good with every customer,” he says. “We have no problems with our customers. They always come first. That’s my main thing that I always tell my managers.” In Yazak’s experience, the best advertising is word-of-mouth among his customers, along with relying on the support of his insurance companies. Yazak’s shops are on the Geico ARX program, where the company sends him cars on a schedule. “My insurance companies are always behind me,” he says. “Most of my managers come from insurance companies, and they know the other parts of the business. I always work in the body shop.”

By hiring for expertise and focusing on customer service, Yazak is able to run a successful shop, and that strong foundation allowed him to expand his business. It’s clearly worked for the best. Yazak says that between its three locations, Scotsman Auto Body has serviced almost 10,000 customers in its near-decade in business. Find a space that works best for your needs. For Yazak, location is key to running a successful business, and it’s what he focuses on when deciding on the right time to expand. “They’re all good locations, that’s important for me,” Yazak says. “They have to be on a main street. They have to be big.” Yazak’s three shops are 17,000, 16,000, and 21,000 square feet, respectively,

located on some of the busiest streets on Long Island. Each shop is able to service 70–120 cars per month. “I have the biggest shops around here,” Yazak says. Whether the right place for you is big or small, you have to be prepared for the commitment that a new location requires. Be ready with the time, money and resources necessary for a new place of business. “It was a big process,” Yazak says about opening his expansions. “Especially when you’re buying someone else’s old shop and you’re getting all brand new equipment.”

Depend on your staff.

“The staff is the most important thing in this business,” Yazak says. “I have six shop managers and one office manager. They’re great, they all look after me.” Between his three shops, he currently employees around 50 people. He hired seven different managers, two for each shop, plus one office manager. “Some of them come and go, but most of them right now have been with me for more than three years,” Yazak says. When it came time to expand, he went to his staff for support. “I have one manager who has been with me for a long time,” Yazak says. “I always ask him what he thinks about this place, or how we can do this stuff … My staff is my biggest help. When I need something, when I can’t handle it, we come together and we try to solve the problem.” With three locations, he must rely on his staff to run day-to-day operations when he’s not there. He commutes between all three shops daily, where he spends two hours at each before moving to the next one. The staff has to be responsible for the daily upkeep of each location. “We all work together. We’re just like a big family,” Yazak says. “I love them, and they love me.” February 2020 | fenderbender.com 15


FIVE TIPS TO WIN MORE INSURANCE BUSINESS With rising repair costs and shrinking resources, insurers are always looking for collision repair partners that are easy to work with. So how do you become a source of relief for your local insurance partners? 1. Prioritize the customer experience by ensuring you have open communication and every interaction is a positive one. 2. Uphold a positive image by investing in your store cleanliness, waiting area and exterior to make insurers feel comfortable in sending their customers your way. 3. Have trusted operational processes, like the EDGE Performance Platform, which stores use as a blueprint to achieve that premier level of collision repair excellence – for every repair. 4. Keep an eye on KPIs like cycle time, customer service scores, touch time and length of rental - as carries are constantly looking at these to judge your performance. 5. Make room for education to ensure technicians are educated in the latest repair standards and you earn certifications that make sense for your book of business. If you do not want to sell to a consolidator, but want support in earning more business from insurers, consider joining the CARSTAR family. CARSTAR is a franchise system that provides resources to enhance your business, while allowing you to continue independently owning and operating your business. To see if CARSTAR is right for you, visit CARSTARfranchise.com or call 888-638-5062.

16 fenderbender.com | February 2020


DRIVER ' S SE AT

Beginner’s (Non) Luck How to stop thinking, let things happen and be the ball A couple years ago, I decided I wanted to find some new hob-

bies. I was ready to discover my “thing.” After I was rejected from a calligraphy class due to being left-handed (the injustice!), I settled on tennis and golf. I casually played both as a kid and I figured it would come back to me easily, just like riding a bike. Plus, I had visions of leisurely Saturday afternoons, cold drink in hand, playing a round with my dad. Sounds adorable and idyllic, right? There was just one problem, I learned: I wasn’t very good. I topped the ball constantly, I struggled with chipping, and I frequently lost balls. I would be at the driving range, and look over to see a 10-yearold effortlessly drive a ball further than I could ever hope, and think, “How can he do that so easily and I can’t?!” It’s a good thing I had the wonderful self-awareness to realize that kid had probably played for years, and there was no reason I should be good after a 15-year break. Oh wait, no, I didn’t. I was a huge baby and pouted. That’s when I realized: being a beginner, especially as an adult, is hard. It’s uncomfortable, it’s humbling, and it forces you to put aside your ego. But that’s exactly why it’s important. Trying new things and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is how you grow. Sure, it’s more comfortable to stick with what’s familiar, but where’s the benefit in that? Giving up on being a learner and letting fear hold you back is a one-way ticket to complacency. Luckily, I chose a sport that doesn’t care about my feelings. If there’s one thing I learned from those summers of golf lessons, it’s that golf demands letting go of your bad shots and staying in the present moment. There’s something to that. If you can accept and allow yourself to be bad at something while you work at it, there’s actually a lot of fun to be had in those moments. It’s not easy; if I’m honest, I didn’t pick up a club a single time this year. But I’m determined to start back up again. Quitting just because I’m not ready to join the tour? That doesn’t sit well. If you haven’t caught on by now, there are a ton of business parallels here. The industry is changing rapidly. And in doing so, it may have forced you out of your comfort zone and into new, unfamiliar roles: leader, marketer, accountant, human resources manager. In this month’s issue alone, there are articles on hiring (p. 36), firing (p. 51), maintaining your Google standing (p. 52), improving your website (p. 60) and implementing a team pay plan (p. 56). There’s no way you can be good at all of that immediately. That’s OK. Stick with it, and allow yourself to be a beginner. See you at the course!

ANNA ZECK EDITORIAL DIRECTOR a z e c k @10 m i s s i o n s .c o m

February 2020 | fenderbender.com 17


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QUICK FIX NEWS

|

IDEAS

|

PEOPLE

|

TRENDS

In Clear View Fix Auto Silverdale sets itself apart from competitors with its unique area dedicated to vehicle estimates.

ANALYSIS VIEWPOINT LIGHT HITS SNAP SHOP

JOLLY SIENDA PHOTOGR APHY

SN A P SHOP

30

February 2020 | fenderbender.com 21


QUICK FIX

ANALYSIS

TRAINING TO BRACE FOR ADAS REPAIRS Experts say not one step can be missed when repairing vehicles’ advanced driver-assistance systems Vehicles today are a far cry from what

they were 20 years ago, when cars weren’t equipped with a single advanced driverassistance system (ADAS). Today, cars are coming equipped with automatic emergency braking (AEB), forward collision warning (FCW) and radar sensors, not to mention LIDAR remote sensing. New technology brings with it new demands for repairing vehicles accurately and efficiently. Collision repair companies are launching new solutions to help technicians fix vehicles properly. For instance, Chief Collision Technology launched one of the industry’s first automated ADAS calibration systems. I-CAR even launched enhancements to its core education program to include vehicle and technology specific training. “If we don’t repair this vehicle the way it was intended to be repaired, per OEMs’ standards, it’s not going to react the same way,” says Mike Croker, global repair and training product manager for Chief. 22 fenderbender.com | February 2020

“And then we’re taking someone’s life into our own hands.” Croker emphasizes that the biggest factor leading to a shop’s success is its ability to complete a safe and accurate repair. He says body shops need to keep up with everevolving technological advancements. “It’s different than anything we’ve ever seen in the industry in the past,” says Bud Center, I-CAR subject matter expert and lead associate. “These technicians will need to be more of a learner type and thrive on going into service manuals and researching service information.” So, here’s a question for you; Has your shop advanced far enough to survive?

What to Expect in ADAS Technician Training

Several ADAS courses are currently available for technicians. (See Sidebar: ADAS Course Opportunities) ICAR experts work closely with auto-

makers to develop courses that techs can take. Center says a technician’s success in repairing vehicles with advanced technology will be based on OE requirements for completing the repairs, strong understanding of how the systems are designed and perform, and the ability to go out and test the systems. Croker feels that, for a system like Chief’s, the technician will be trained on how to use it before even being able to start the device. The training takes a little more than two hours and can be done virtually. Once a technician passes the training, he or she will be given a site key to turn on the calibration system. One challenge to industry organizations working together to build standardized ADAS training courses is the discontinuity between manufacturers and their individual repair requirements. “Basically, the more training you have

GETT Y IMAGES

BY MELISSA STEINKEN


on repairing any type of ADAS system, the better the outcome will be,” Croker adds. Another challenge in teaching the repair process stems from the chance for mistakes. Croker says that, while performing these repairs, the technician is required to take so many measurements with tape measures and string, that it does create room for error. “Just because they did a process does not mean it was done correctly,” Croker says.

What to Plan for ADAS Work on the Shop Floor

The shop owner, Center says, will need to do more research in the foreseeable future. The owner will need to analyze his or her business and determine which makes and models are arriving at their shop most frequently. Then, the owner will need to obtain the specific vehicles’ repair procedures, and stay updated on them as they get updated. Shops will need to require a space the size of at least one bay of unobstructed floor space in order to perform accurate ADAS calibrations. In some cases, the space will need to have no reflective surfaces, because sunlight coming through a window could cause issues with calibrations. “When it comes to ADAS repairs and calibrations, floor space is always at a premium,” Center says. “It can be very difficult

to dedicate floor space to these calibrations.” And, when it comes to the current manual calibration process there isn’t a way to verify the target is in the correct position easily, and there isn’t an ideal way to verify if the calibration is correct. With a system like the Chief Mosaic the machine calibrates itself every 24 hours or every calibration, if needed. It also has technology that verifies correct target placement. Croker says a shop will need to make sure the vehicle structure is straight

and will need a 3-D measuring system that can document that. In the case of proper calibration, it is critical that the vehicle structure and wheel alignments are done, and done correctly. The wheel alignment may be OEM specific. The shop operator will need to obtain documentation of the calibration. “Each step in ADAS repairs is so critical to the overall function of the repair that technicians can’t skip a single one,” Croker notes.

ADAS COURSE OPPORTUNITIES I-CAR currently offers multiple ADAS courses. These courses include: 1. ADAS and Convenience Systems Overview and Service 2. Bosch Scan Tool and Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS) Calibration Kit 3. Incorporating ADAS in Your Business 4. Post Repair Advanced DriverAssistance Systems (ADAS) Testing 5. Windshields and Advanced DriverAssist Systems (ADAS)

February 2020 | fenderbender.com 23


Your Dust-Free Solution

Dust-Free Sanding Systems • No Electricity • Aluminum Safe • Portable • Just Add Air Pro Spot offers the perfect Dust-Free Sanding Solution for any shop. Our systems are safe for use on steel and aluminum materials. Keep the shop air clean and dust-free using low volume compressed air only. There are no electrical parts in any system making it perfect for any aluminum job. Each system doubles as a dedicated storage space for sanding materials, tools and abrasives. Pair one of our systems with our new sanding abrasives, sold separately, to create the ultimate mobile sanding station.

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24 fenderbender.com | February 2020

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QUICK FIX

VIEWPOINT

Analyzing Updated SBA Standards Following its latest changes, the SBA could award as much as $750 million in federal loans to small businesses, including many body shops BY MELISSA STEINKEN

Sandra Baker-Assemi President Elite Auto Collision

In late 2019, the Small Business Administration (SBA) issued a new rule that would adjust monetary-based small business size standards to allow more businesses to be eligible for the administration’s loan and contracting programs. Elite Auto Collision and its eight employees are classified as a small business. And, recently, EAC faced a dilemma. The body shop had been leasing a location for the past 15 years and all of a sudden was being forced to move by the owner. In the southern California area, renters are facing developing pressures because landlords are seeking to build more housing. Sandra Baker-Assemi, president of Elite Auto Collision in El Cajon, Calif., had searched for a new location for the body shop for over a decade. One of her goals was to keep the shop’s DRPs intact, because roughly 90 percent of its business was coming from those partnerships. Baker-Assemi first went through the Service Corp of Retired Executives (SCORE), a national nonprofit organization that counsels business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs, program. She met with a financial counselor and found out what business finances she needed to get in order so she could apply for a small business loan. About two years ago, the shop operator applied for a small business loan from the SBA. Through that process she learned small body shops could receive as much as $2 million. The SBA adjusted monetary-based size standards by nearly 8.4 percent to reflect the inflation that occurred since the last adjustment for inflation in 2014. With the adjustment, about 90,000 more small businesses would be able to gain small business status and could be awarded millions in additional federal contracts. “I think [the amount of work that goes into applying] is one of the principal reasons that so many shops seem to opt for shuttering,” Baker-Assemi says, “since this involves an intensive dive into all aspects of the business finances for several years running.” Below, Baker-Assemi provides further insight on what shop owners need to know these days when applying for SBA loans.

How do you view access to capital for small businesses?

I think access to capital for body shops is the number one challenge for anyone who wants to start a small business. It could be an issue even for a family member like a son taking over for the father. When you ask the SBA about finding a bank that the organization partners with, they will give you a list that has more than 50 banks on it. My advice is to keep talking to as many people as you can. We ended up only submitting our loan petition to three banks. Money is a big issue and, for some shops, simply investing in a paint booth and a paint booth permit could cost around $80,000. If a body shop wants to look into cheaper, affordable options for tools and equipment, that shop could end

shop facility but wanted to buy for our next location. Since we were leasing, our tax returns and other documents helped to show the bank that my husband and I did have equity in the form of other houses. We also brought with us proof that we had previously been at a failing body shop and turned that failing business around to make a profit.

up getting in trouble with the local fire departments for violating safety codes. What documentation did you need to provide to banks?

I sat down with a certified personal accountant (CPA) and discussed the situation. This is a very important step to do because, in order to request any kind of loan, your business and personal finances need to be straightened out. One thing I was told to do at this time was to call the IRS and request a transcript of the last three years of tax returns. We needed not only our business tax returns but our personal tax returns, as well. We also gathered our profit and loss statement and an organized balance sheet for the previous three years. We were leasing our previous body

Why did you choose the type of loan you did?

We opted for an SBA loan with 10 percent down at a 10-year term. The loan is below 8 percent per annum. The loan interest rate has decreased since the SBA issued its new rule on small business sizes. It took us five months to complete applying for the loan. The other bank loans we were considering involved 50 percent down and varying terms. We got about $200,000 in a loan but I do know that small businesses can get up to $2 million from federal funding. We went to a small bank to get a loan because it was a lot easier to find a time to sit down with an advocate that could lay out all the options. The bank has to be affiliated with the SBA, however. What has life been like since receiving the loan?

We moved into our new facility in August 2019 and today we’re making $1.3 million per year. We’ve established some improved business practices. For instance, we track our finances once per month to make sure we’re taking detailed notes on our statements like our profit and loss statement. We were also able to move and keep our whole book of business. We kept all the same DRPs in the move. I advise other shops in a similar position to wait until you have a plan as to where you are moving before you notify your insurance company partners. We told them about two weeks before we moved facilities. The process was pretty simple once we had a location set. Most of the companies only needed us to send the letter from our landlord asking us to leave our old facility. If you’re in a similar position, get on the Google list early with all of your website and business information including the physical address, business hours and location. Switching your business to a different location on Google maps can take up to four weeks to update. February 2020 | fenderbender.com 25


News

QUICK FIX

For your daily collision repair news visit

LIGHT HITS

fenderbender.com/lighthits

COURT DISMISSES RACKETEERING LAWSUIT FROM BODY SHOPS A federal appellate court recently threw out a racketeering lawsuit brought by a group of 126 auto body collision repair shops, per a report from the Insurance Journal. The body shops brought the lawsuit against seven of the largest U.S. insurers. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta agreed with the district court that the repair shops failed to state a valid claim that the insurers had conspired to commit a fraud by demanding that they accept lower rates for their work in order to participate in their repair networks. The court said in order to pursue a claim under the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), the repair shops would have to show that they there were the victim of a fraud or extortion. The

fraud alleged in the complaint, however, consisted of nothing more than “vague allusions” to misrepresentations made by the insurers.

growth plan" and an effort to streamline its offerings.

ALLSTATE TO RETIRE ESURANCE

General Motors recently issued two recalls worldwide to address brake software and fire risk. The automaker is recalling more than 550,000 2019 light-duty Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Cadillac CT6 and GMC Sierra 1500 vehicles due to potential software issues related to the vehicles’ service brake system notifications. GM is also recalling more than 400,000 units of the 2019-2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 trucks because battery positive cable rings may have been manufactured with excessive glue. That could result in a fire, and one fire has already been reported.

Allstate is retiring its Esurance brand. Consumers currently can separately access Allstate personal lines products through four channels: Allstate (exclusive agents), Encompass (independent agents) and Answer Financial and Esurance (online and call center). The auto and home insurance offerings now available by the various brands will be joined in a “circle of protection” that will include personal liability and life insurance, product protection plans and identity protection. The Chicago Tribune reported that the move is part of Allstate's "transformative

GM ISSUES PAIR OF RECALLS

READ WHAT THE PROS READ. “This magazine has been a key component to our organization in keeping us up to date with new vehicle trends and technologies in our forever evolving industry.” —Jonathon Best, Vice President, Fender Mender Collision, Charleston, S.C.

TO S U B S C R I B E O R R E N E W AT F E N D E R B E N D E R . C O M / S U B S C R I B E 26 fenderbender.com | February 2020


Calibrate, don’t compromise. Introducing Mosaic ADT: The first-ever automated ADAS calibration system powered by end-of-line technology from Burke Porter Group. See the future of collision repair at chieftechnology.com/mosaic

February 2020 | fenderbender.com 27


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The Latest from the Consumer Electronics Show The Consumer Electronics Show (CES), held annually in January in Las Vegas, is not only for the consumer but also features more than 200,000 net square feet of space for automotive exhibitors. It’s also the show for the latest in advanced vehicle design and technology. 2020’s show was no exception—head to adaptautomotive.com/CES for a recap of the top announcements made.

Four Ways AI Saves Time in the Shop Artificial intelligence has the potential to improve customer experience, retention and loyalty, and repurpose time to other areas of a facility, including:

1. Reducing admin work 2. Reducing customer communication 3. Increasing sales 4. Costing less than traditional advertising

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Registration and hotel accommodations are now open for The ADAPT: Automotive Technology Summit. Head to adaptautmotive.com/Summit to learn more about the event, who can attend and the schedule of the two-and-a-half day event.

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February 2020 | fenderbender.com 29


QUICK FIX

SNAP SHOP

1

FIX AUTO SILVERDALE BY KELLY BEATON PHOTOS BY JOLLY SIENDA PHOTOGRAPHY LOCATION:

Silverdale, Wash. OWNER:

Ken Miller SIZE:

8,900 Square feet STAFF:

1 (3 technicians, 2 parts/ detailers, 1 owner, 1 painter, 1 prepper, 1 manager, 1 assistant manager, 1 CSR) AVERAGE MONTHLY CAR COUNT:

75

ANNUAL REVENUE:

$2.2 million

1. SLEEK EXTERIOR The building that currently houses Fix Auto Silverdale was originally a glass business. That lends to the roughly 10-year-old facility’s rather unique appearance. The nearly 9,000-square-foot building features an airy atmosphere that visitors consistently compliment, according Fix Auto Silverdale’s owner, Ken Miller. “It shows very well for insurance companies and partners,” Miller says of the two-story, $2.2-million-per-year shop, which features an abundance of glass that the staff thoroughly cleans once per year. “It makes it easier for us to get customers and capture the job—it’s not like a lot of body shops.”

30 fenderbender.com | February 2020

2


2. EXPANSIVE SHOWROOM The facility features approximately 2,000 square feet of showroom space, giving it a far less claustrophobic feel than most businesses’ customer waiting areas. The lobby area features not only an energetic, personable customer service rep, but also leather chairs, couches, and a love seat by Tribecca, a massive 16-by-24-foot U.S. flag, plus soothing background music over the speakers. There’s even a meeting room nearby upstairs, where additional space is leased. “We wanted an area that’s comforting to a customer, that they can leave their car with us and trust that it’ll be treated” with care, Miller explains.

3. TOP-OF-THE-LINE WELDERS Over the last few years, Miller invested nearly $85,000 in four welders. Now, he doesn’t have to worry about his facility being able to adequately handle modern vehicles’ high-strength steels. The shop’s Pro Spot SP-5 smart mig is used to weld steel, silicone bronze, and aluminum, for example. “We’ve invested in this equipment to repair cars properly,” the shop owner says, in reference to spot welders from both Pro Spot and Chief that are 240v and 60A. “With today’s high strength steel integration, these new smart welders have the squeeze pressure and output to meet the manufacturer’s parameters. “We make sure that we have the proper equipment and have people trained to use it.”

3

4. KEEPING IT IN-HOUSE

4

In an effort to control as much of the full repair process as possible on-site, Fix Auto Silverdale’s staff often does in-house mechanical work, like suspension jobs, air conditioning replacement and repair, or steering component replacements. That fact typically helps the shop get vehicles back in customers’ hands more quickly than competitors can. Miller’s staff, which repairs an average of 75 vehicles per month, boasts an average length of rental of about 8.5 days, in a market that averages 11 days. “We try to avoid most mechanical sublets if possible,” Miller says, “to assist in keeping our cycle time in line and to have more control over liability and the final product.”

February 2020 | fenderbender.com 31


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COLUMNS

THE BIG IDEA KEVIN RAINS

High Throughput Tactics The 7 habits of highly effective production managers Occasionally, I need to jump into the

MICHAEL HOEWELER, GETTY IMAGES

production manager role at one of my shops. While not always by choice, production management is something that I have done on and off for over 15 years now. And I love it! This role like no other puts me in touch quickly with the overall health of a shop. It also exposes any issues and opportunities with a clarity that rivals wet clear. Not only have I had the opportunity to run production myself, but I also have had the privilege to work closely with some great production managers over the years. Here are seven of the keystone habits I’ve discovered of highly effective production managers: 1. Create urgency without anxiety. Usually, when I need to jump back into production management, it’s because there is a problem. Revenue dips. A key person moves on to another opportunity. Typically, the shop knows that if I’m showing up daily and getting really involved, something must be “off.” While I hope that my presence brings calm and confidence to my team, too much of me is not a good thing. Like

coffee—a little bit goes a long way. Also like coffee, I can create anxiety! There’s not space here to delve too far into this topic, but psychologist Edwin Friedman’s work on being a “non-anxious presence” has been some of the most profound leadership learnings of my life. There are some summary videos and articles of his work online. Great production managers take decisive action, while setting a high bar of expectation for their teams, but they leave the anxiety out of the mix. 2. Clear the runway for delivery. Have you ever seen the Olympic sport

of curling? That is the production manager’s job! The puck is the car. And the production manager is out in front of it—key point there!—smoothing the ice in front of it to make it go exactly as far and as fast as it should to hit the mark: a timely delivery. What is in the way of your team and how might you smooth the path for them? Production blocks can be things like empty boxes, being out of sandpaper, and cars with dead batteries. 3. Keep techs in their stalls. Production managers go to their team; parts managers go to the techs.

KEVIN RAINS Kevin Rains is the owner of Rains CARSTAR Group with locations in Cincinnati, Ohio, West Chester, Ohio and Lexington, Ky. He is also an industry consultant and founder of Body Shop 2.0.

E M A I L : kev i n r a i n s @ g m a i l .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 /r a i n s

February 2020 | fenderbender.com 33


KEVIN RAINS

THE BIG IDEA

Material carts and tool carts are always close at hand. If techs have to come out of their stall to get information or materials, that is 100 percent wasted time. This is the essence of servant leadership. Go to your team so they can stay focused on repairs. 4. Stay 1–3 steps ahead on each vehicle. Stay ahead of where the car is going.

Is the car almost ready for paint? Are you sure? Has it been quality checked by the tech and manager? Has the glass been pulled to prep it for paint? Has the color been matched before it even hits the paint department? What about the part that is being painted off the car? Has it been mirror-matched by the parts manager and the tech and

taken to the paint department? It’s easy to think, “Got it. The next step is to get the car to paint.” But several steps need to be orchestrated long before the car physically moves into the paint department. Nobody can do several things at once. But production managers can coordinate the efforts of others to get the car from where it is to where it needs to be next. 5. Implement a speed lane. We all have those problem child jobs that just take too long! You know, those ROs that in spite of our best efforts are a 1-hour touch time. How do you offset that? Speed lanes to the rescue! A speed lane is a job where you go for a crazy good touch time, like a 10. A quick bumper and fender repair with no hidden damage can easily be out on the same day if things are orchestrated properly and prepped ahead of time. 6. Build momentum by celebrating wins. Most recently for me, that was cars delivered. I wanted to create a cadence of two per day, then three, then four, etc. Even if those cars didn’t add up to our revenue goals at first, it still created momentum for the team and got all departments used to seeing that number of cars go out the door. Paint gets used to painting two, then three. Detail gets used to cleaning that same number. And on it goes. Over time, a solid mix of job size will ensure you hit your revenue goals. But getting those reps early on and increasing car count delivered will set you up for those bigger wins.

Why Join WIN? WIN offers education, mentoring and leadership development opportunities to build critical skills for success in the collision repair market.

• Local/Regional

Networking Events

• Annual Education Conference

• Educational Webinars • Mentoring Opportunities

womensindustrynetwork.com

• Scholarship Program • School Outreach Program

• Most Influential Women (MIW) Award

7. Lead visually. It can be simple whiteboards or high tech screens. It doesn’t matter. So, even if you’re not physically present, any team member can know what you’re aiming for and what’s next. This creates a pull through the shop as each department looks for and prepares for the cars that will be coming toward them. These seven habits, if practiced consistently day in and day out, will produce the results you’re looking for. Remember: Car flow equals cash flow. As you create a cadence of high throughput, the rewards will surely follow.

34 fenderbender.com | February 2020 WIN_FBender join 4.5x7.2_0120.indd 2

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36 fenderbender.com | February 2020

GETTY IMAGES

B Y K E L LY B E AT O N


At first glance, the state of the collision

repair industry’s current workforce looks like a college kid’s bank account—there’s a lot more going out than there is coming in. Recent TechForce Foundation data indicates that, this year, there’s a demand for 15,897 total new collision repair technicians in the U.S. alone. As a result, hiring has become quite the chore for body shop owners. “We have this issue—the perfect storm,” explains Anne Bojko, a UTI official who oversees collision-repair employment for the school. “There’s a shortage of technicians, but the demand is rising at the same time because we have a good economy. The demand is rising, (but) there’s less students coming into the programs.” Rob Stringer, the owner of Arizona Collision Center, has certainly felt that strain. “There’s not a lot of new people coming into the industry,” says Stringer, a veteran of nearly two decades in collision repair. “Some of the hardest positions to fill are entry-level jobs, like lot attendant.” Stringer, who runs a $3 million shop with a staff of 16, has noticed that many entry-level employees simply aren’t interested in slowly but surely climbing a shop’s staffing hierarchy. “I tell people, ‘Chase opportunity, not money,’” he says. Fortunately, Stringer and several other industry veterans have eventually found ways to overcome the obstacles often associated with the hiring process. And, they recently shared several such tips with FenderBender. So, sit back, break out a highlighter, and let’s thumb through the hiring handbook for 2020.

IDEAL JOB ADS IDEAL INTERVIEW PROCESSES OFFER ESSENTIAL BENEFITS February 2020 | fenderbender.com 37


FE ATURE

THE HIRING HANDBOOK

IDEAL JOB ADS

Job ads need to be worded carefully, or else they can result in a shop owner getting inundated with unqualified candidates. With hastily written job ads on websites like Indeed.com, or Craigslist, Stringer notes, “a lot of the applicants aren’t as qualified as they pretend to be. I felt like I was just flooded with people that aren’t qualified for the position.” Experts FenderBender spoke to for this article suggest keeping job ads concise, specifying the exact skills and training needed for the job opening, explaining the type of pay plan new hires will receive, and highlighting perks available to new hires (even fringe benefits such as not having to work evenings or Sundays). Even getting slightly creative with the wording of job titles can grab the attention of job applicants, such as referring to a technician as a “body repair expert.” “Word the ads with the emotion (job candidates) are looking for: peace of mind, security, hope for the future, longterm great earning potential,” says Dave Schedin, the CEO of CompuTrek Automotive

SUMMARY ESSENTIALS Longtime industry professionals like Anne Bojko, a UTI official who oversees collision-repair employment for the school, break down key elements that should be included in a body shop’s one-page summary that it presents to job candidates.

38 fenderbender.com | February 2020

ON THE JOB JOB WEBSITES THAT INDUSTRY EXPERTS TOLD FENDERBENDER WERE THE MOST EFFECTIVE FOR FINDING QUALITY COLLISION REPAIR CANDIDATES

• Indeed.com • Craigslist • SEMAjobs.org • uti.edu/jobposts • LinkedIn

On-Boarding Plans: This breakdown of the onboarding process should start with detailed plans of a Day 1 shop tour and eventually include an explanation of weekly check-in meetings, as well as goal-setting, and an outlook for career development. Anticipated Outcomes: Shop owners should lay out

Solutions. “If you’re a rural shop location attracting candidates from larger cities, you’ll need to create value words and reasonings for where your business is located, i.e. ‘family-friendly, great schools, little to no traffic or commute times.’” Schedin also suggests noting incentive plans, typical per-year vacation ranges, and stating a pay range that top performers can expect to make at a shop. “Everything needs to be geared toward bringing in an entry-level technician,” notes Bojko, whose employer, UTI, has three U.S. campuses with collision repair programs. Today’s young, entry-level collision repairers expect to have all information about a potential employer laid out in front of them. That’s why Bojko suggests body shop owners provide transparency in the form of a detailed, one-page summary of their business to applicants. “This generation is very different—they want to know everything,” the UTI official notes of today’s young adults. “They want to know every little detail. Like, what does it mean, 60 or 90 days (after hiring), if you’re exceeding expectations?”

what’s expected of new hires in terms of their breadth of collision repair knowledge and working with fellow employees as well as, in general, what an ideal first few months on the job might look like. Roles and Responsibilities: This portion of a body shop’s business summary should explain what a typical workday

would look like, with regard to repair work. The Business’s Mission Statement: A final element should encapsulate the shop’s purpose, touching on beliefs such as its goal of providing repair work that’s above reproach while building a longterm staff that works cohesively.

GETTY IMAGES

Chapter 1:


STUDENT SURVEY In late 2019, the Collision Industry Conference released the results of its Talent Pool Committee’s student survey. The survey garnered feedback from 275 high school, college, or technical school students who attended a CREF career fair in 2018-19. Here’s a look at the most noteworthy results as they pertain to what today’s students seek from future employers.

Chapter 2:

IDEAL INTERVIEW PROCESSES

These days, Ron Villard says, collision repair job candidates are a valued commodity on par with petroleum. Great job candidates, he says, “are few and far between. So, they’re high-priced. You’re going to fight over them—you’re going to compete with your competitors over pricing.” In an effort to avoid making a costly hiring mistake, Villard, the vice president of operations with southern California MSO 1st Certified Collision, has a refined interview process. The key steps include the following:

doing your part OFFICIALS FROM UTI OFFER SUGGESTIONS FOR WHAT BODY SHOP OWNERS CAN

USE WORKING INTERVIEWS WHEN APPROPRIATE.

For entry-level positions like lot porter, Villard, now in his 29th year in collision repair, often brings candidates on-site for what effectively serves as a oneday tryout. He makes sure that working interview candidates, who typically work 6–8 hours alongside a veteran employee, are provided pay in the form of minimum wage (according to employeetestingcenter.com, job applicants taking part in working interviews must be compensated at no less than

of survey respondents had taken college courses

DO TO HELP IMPROVE THE HIRING PROBLEM CURRENTLY IMPACTING THE COLLISION REPAIR INDUSTRY.

1. Offer relocation packages to graduating collision repair students.

HAVE MULTIPLE MANAGERS CONDUCT INTERVIEWS.

1st Certified Collision, which has 10 locations and around 200 employees, typically has at least two managers lead interviews of job prospects. Often, three managers aid the process. It’s all in an effort to make sure candidates are asked every pertinent question possible before a hiring decision is made. Once each manager has led their interview of a job candidate, Villard asks them for their impressions of the interviewee. “Go through a tiered approach,” Villard suggests, “and maybe even have a human resources person do an interview, to make sure that this is going to be the right type of candidate for the company. … You want to pick the right candidate, so I use what I call ‘consensus-building.’”

53%

2. Speak at vocational schools, sharing the goals and everyday repairs typical of today’s body shops. 3. Join academic advisory boards at vocational tech schools, offering feedback regarding what shop owners are looking for from entrylevel job candidates. 4. Attend hiring events and job fairs at vocational schools. 5. Provide mentorship to young workers, thus allowing your shop to grow your own employees. 6. Hire, on a part-time basis, young workers, using a period of 90 days to gauge their fit on your shop staff.

44% 44 A MAJORITY OF STUDENTS, ANTICIPATED $11,000–$25,000 IN STUDENT LOAN DEBT

37% A MAJORITY OF STUDENTS, EXPECTED A STARTING SALARY OF $30,000–$50,000

65% of survey respondents expect to make less than $50,000 upon entering the workforce

February 2020 | fenderbender.com 39


FE ATURE

THE HIRING HANDBOOK

HIRE LEARNING

minimum wage, unless the work performed is de minimus, or “really minimum”). “I’ve done that several times,” Villard says. “We’ll bring in a detailer, or even a porter, and check their skill set and see what they like to do. “I have a production manager, or painter—whoever’s appropriate and available—oversee that person. Then I ask their opinion. I’m looking for focus, drive, energy, out-of-the-box thinking, and critical thinking. Are they making the right choices at the right time? For example, if I have a lobby full of customers and (the job candidate) starts emptying the garbage then, that’s not the best. You look at their behaviors.”

ASK PROBING QUESTIONS.

Considering 1st Certified Collision repairs around 1,600 vehicles per month, Villard aims to make certain that the applicants he hires are in it for the long haul, are an ideal fit for his staff, and that they know what will be expected of them. Thus, the hiring manager attempts to leave no stone unturned during the interview process, asking several questions during casual, extended sitdown interviews. The key interview questions, Villard says, are the following: “Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?” “What, exactly, are you looking for out of the job?” “Are you a hands-on individual, or more comfortable at a desk?” Questions such as those, Villard notes, “tell me whether I’m going to be able to invest my time and 40 fenderbender.com | February 2020

JOSABET ARREOLA collision repair student Salt Lake Community College

ANTHONY BACA collision repair instructor Luna (NM) Community College

What can shop owners with job openings say to grab young applicants' attention? Just the word “opportunity.” Shop owners normally say, “Fill out the application and we’ll get back to you.” And, most of the time, they don’t get back to you. Just put it in nicer words, and just be honest with job applicants.

What's one creative way in which body shop owners could find quality entry-level candidates? Take advantage of internship programs. A lot of colleges are looking into internship programs in students’ final semester of trade school.

How can the collision repair industry improve the interview process, so it's more effective? Asking what I’ve done in the past would’ve helped to understand who I was, and what my character was, as well as what my abilities are, what my strengths are, and what my weaknesses are. Getting to know the person on a personal level helps a lot, because you’re able to understand them more as an individual.

What could shop owners specifically ask to improve the job interview process? Ask candidates in the interview, “Do you have a portfolio? What work have you done?” And, ask what they’re passionate about—”Do you like hot rods or customs?” This way, you would find out what motivates them.

COURTESY JOSABET ARREOLA, ANTHONY BACA, GETTY IMAGES

Those currently associated with vocational schools weigh in on what young job applicants expect from those hiring at body shops these days


FOR YOUR BENEFIT P E R C E N TA G E O F S H O P S W I T H B E N E F I T S According to the results of the 2019 FenderBender Industry Survey, which garnered 372 total respondents, health insurance and retirement plans are the top benefits that shops are currently doling out. But training reimbursement is growing in popularity, too. Here’s a look at the benefits* shop operators are most commonly making available to today’s employees. *Respondents were asked to select all benefits that applied to their business. Additionally, 24% of respondents selected “others,” a category that included an array of insurance plans like dental, vision and accident, along with benefits like tool-purchase assistance.

Health insurance Retirement plan/401(k) Training reimbursement Disability insurance Bonus plan Life insurance

make a longterm investment (in the candidate). The auto body industry is a different type of beast, and you can gauge who’s going to stay and who’s not just through casual conversation. “I’m looking for somebody who’s saying ‘I want to earn my way through this business; what’s it going to take for me to get there?’”

Chapter 3:

OFFER ESSENTIAL BENEFITS

Gone are the days in which shop owners could get away with neglecting to offer benefits. Making that decision in 2020 would leave a shop struggling to outfight competitors for top talent. After all, consolidators like Caliber and Service King, buoyed by their strength in numbers, are offering fairly extensive benefits packages these days, Stringer notes. Most young technicians and painters now expect core benefits like health insurance, vision, dental, 401(k) and short-term disability from their employer. Baca, the collision repair instructor at Luna Community College, says his students tend to place an especially high importance on health insurance. And Villard, the hiring manager with 1st Certified Collision, adds, “To be competitive, the big thing these days is 401(k). Everyone’s offering the medical benefits, (so) 401(k) is it.” Peripheral “benefits” or perks can often be effective in luring quality job candidates, too. For example, officials at UTI have seen recent students seek tuition-reimbursement packages from employers.

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Those types of packages (even those paying as little as $200 per month) help with retention more than sign-on bonuses, and they offer an immediate incentive for young adults who aren’t yet focused on long-term benefits, explains Cindy Kostelac, a hiring incentive team member with UTI. “Tuition reimbursement needs to be factored as the cost of doing business,” Kostelac says. “I tell employers these expenses should be handled like any other employer benefit. The top example I use is that most employers today offer 401(k) as a benefit; a newly graduated student with student loans looming more than likely can’t contribute to that type of benefit that rewards them much later in life. Rather, have something in place that they can take advantage of in the early stages of their career, when they’ll be making lower wages.” UTI officials say they’ve witnessed perks like tuition-reimbursement plans be an extremely successful approach for employers. And, after all, it’s more expensive to train a string of new employees than it is to keep a young worker with potential. While some shop owners struggle to meet job candidates’ demands in 2020, modern entry-level workers aren’t all that different from previous generations. More than anything, they simply want to feel like they’re going to be appreciated by the shop owner that eventually hires them. “What they want more than anything,” Stringer says of entry-level collision repairers, “is a team atmosphere. They want something they can believe in.” February 2020 | fenderbender.com 41


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EUROPEAN COLLISION REPAIR’S GROWTH SOARED THE MOMENT IT BECAME TESLA CERTIFIED BY MELISSA STEINKEN

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY STEVE GLASS

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February 2020 | fenderbender.com 43


PROFILE

GUARANTEEING FUTURE GROWTH

For a shop that’s accustomed to fast-paced growth, the key to success lies not in going with the flow, but in striving to do better than before. The key to success is doing the common, everyday tasks and performing them uncommonly well, says Andrew Sugggs, co-owner of European Collision Repair, which has four locations, in Georgia and Tennessee. “As crazy as it sounds, we went from one location to four locations in two different states within four years,” Suggs says. In fact, the collision repair business boasted the first Tesla-certified collision repair facility on the east coast, attaining that in 2012. Suggs isn’t alone in achieving massive, rapid growth for his body shop. Before he even stepped foot into the body shop, his father, Thomas, was pioneering shop growth. Suggs first was a professional golfer right out of college and it wasn’t until he got injured that he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps. Suggs left the golf course behind but took with him the work ethic and an ability to make connections with different kinds of people. After starting in the shop as a detailer, Suggs worked his way up to run the front office. “One of the most important aspects on the shop side is to create those instant connections with customers and make them feel comfortable,” he says. Today, with its significant growth, European Collision Repair (ECR) has only one DRP and is heavily focused on carrying out solid routines and procedures, even across multiple locations. It pays off, too, as the business brings in roughly $18 million in annual revenue.

Overcoming Growing Pains

The collision repair business’s growth was dependent on a combination of factors, including finding markets to fill a need. European Collision Repair first opened in Jonesboro, Ga., under Thomas Suggs’ guidance. Today, the elder Suggs still works out of that location and runs the main hub so that his son can focus on frequently visiting multiple locations. A key moment in the business’s growth came back in 2012, when a Tesla 44 fenderbender.com | February 2020

Eye on Improvement Georgia shop co-owner Andrew Suggs (left) consistently strives to improve shop processes in an effort to make his business more efficient.

was damaged in the Atlanta area, and the owners eventually called upon ECR. The business took that opportunity to become Tesla certified and thus, hastened its ascent. Shortly after their second location opened in Nashville, the family opened a third location in the Atlanta area, soon followed by a fourth location in 2018 in Antioch, Tenn. “It’s difficult to go from only one location, with the same crew of people for

years, to multiple locations in more than one state,” Andrew Suggs says. “The challenge was getting everyone on the same page and following the same procedures.” Suggs says shop owners looking to expand need to nail down their procedural routines (See Sidebar: Tools to Tackle Tasks). Suggs needed to implement goals for the shop to work toward daily, weekly, monthly and yearly. For example, he noted, “I’m going to sit down with the parts department to better understand where


TOOLS TO TACKLE TASKS ANDREW SUGGS USES MULTIPLE TOOLS TO STAY ON TOP OF DAILY TASKS, INCLUDING THE CCC REPORTS AND THE CCC KPI DASHBOARD. Using those tools, he checks these KPIs every day:

Sales

($500K/month)

Average Repair

($4,900)

Capture Ratio

(73%)

CSI

(98.5%)

success lies and where bottlenecks occur for them.” To streamline processes, he also created an employee handbook. The handbook contains every SOP ever created at the shop. Even the check-in process and customer greetings have their own SOPs. The father-son duo chose to hire outside of the company and move around key players to train new employees. For instance, the manager from the Atlanta

location was moved to general manager to help the transition. Some employees have now been with the body shop for over a decade.

Tweaking Shop Workflow

Through the shop expansion, Suggs put his college education to use. He learned one of the best ways to organize the shop floor was to incorporate color-coding. “People in general respond to color,” he says. “Now, everything has a color

and reason for that color to make the process simple.” For each ECR facility, the flow of work starts the same. A car is dropped off by the customer and brought into the disassembly cube area. The area has no shade or windows so that technicians can take ideal pictures of vehicle damage. And, for each step of the process, the technician working on the car dates and initials their notes on a sticker that’s affixed to the vehicle. At any given time, February 2020 | fenderbender.com 45


PROFILE

GUARANTEEING FUTURE GROWTH

the team can look at the sticker and the name that’s on it to know who’s working on the vehicle. Then the car is washed, goes on to the shop floor, and an estimate is attached to the car’s file. Once the car is repaired, it goes into paint. Between the body repair zone and the paint zone, there’s a red zone, Suggs says. This zone is the “accountability zone.” In this accountability area, the team knows that once a car is in, either the painter and body shop manager, or painter and general manager have to meet about it to double check work. Basically, one technician from the beginning of the repair process has to meet with one working toward the end of the repair. The team will be notified about 30 minutes ahead of the car going into the red zone, either during the day’s production meeting or displayed on the shop’s electronic production board. “It’s a meeting of the minds, if you will,” Suggs says. “A lot of times, it’s done in two stages, where the painter checks the bodyman’s work and then the bodyman will get together with say, the parts person, to make sure there are no issues or additional parts to order.” The car goes on to paint and buffing, and then gets reassembled. The body shop teams have been able to repair roughly 100 vehicles each month through the aforementioned process. Today, the average monthly car count for the Sandy Springs location is 125 cars. By following the market demands, taking on opportunities presenting themselves and working hard to adjust to the challenges of the new ventures, the Suggs run an $18 million business today.

Accomplishing the Overarching Goal

Once routine, organization and procedures are in place and producing results, Suggs says the key is forming relationships. For instance, an important element that has kept a steady stream of work flowing into ECR during expansion was dealership partnerships. “Customers now rely on dealerships for all things car-related, so those referrals are critical,” Suggs says. Suggs follows his motto of underpromising and over-delivering when it comes to his dealership partnerships. 46 fenderbender.com | February 2020

Refined Final Product A focus on organization and streamlined procedures has built European Collision Repair into a thriving, $18 million business.

On the other hand, Suggs and his dad formed the relationship that keeps the shop running smoothly. When it comes to working alongside family, Suggs recommends to align each person’s vision and ideas for the company together. Suggs and his father have different styles of management but always work toward the same goal. Suggs takes his time to implement a process to ensure it’s done right, while he says his father expects every job to be done correctly and done in a timely manner. “Sometimes you feel like you’re chasing your tail going from location to location putting out fires, training, or building up employees,” he says. “If you’re not organized you can’t get a strategy to move your business forward.”

EUROPEAN COLLISION REPAIR OWNER:

THOMAS SUGGS MAIN LOCATION:

SANDY SPRINGS, GA. (4 TOTAL LOCATIONS) SIZE:

33,000 SQUARE FEET STAFF:

7

AVERAGE MONTHLY CAR COUNT:

125

ANNUAL REVENUE:

$7 MILLION


COLLISION REPAIRERS

The CCC® Total Repair Platform brings all aspects of your business together – from estimating to customer engagement to DRP management – in a single platform. Learn more at www.cccis.com/get-ccc-one February 2020 | fenderbender.com 47


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STRATEGY LEARN

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GROW

|

WORK SMARTER

Meeting of the Minds Ontario shop operator Shawn Stenson (left) motivates his staff not only by being attentive to their needs, but also by offering productivity bonuses.

IDEA SHOP SALES+MARKETING CASE STUDY CUSTOMER SERVICE

KRISTEN RITCHIE PHOTOGRAPHY

CASE S T UDY

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February 2020 | fenderbender.com 49


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STR ATEGY

IDEA SHOP

Determine When Firing is Unavoidable How to set employees up for success—and when to pull the trigger when they won’t work Mel Kleiman, founder and president of Humetrics, an HR consulting company that finds and hires hourly employees, says there are two questions you need answered about a potential employee in the hiring process, and re-evaluated as necessary. “The first question is, ‘Is the job right for the person?’” Kleiman says. “And the second question is, ‘Is the person right for the job?’” If you can answer those questions with a resounding “yes,” a future firing is unlikely. However, if there’s a disconnect between the employee and the role they fill, you’re headed for troubled waters. “When you make a hiring mistake, learn to fail fast,” Kleiman says. “The faster you fail, the less it’ll cost you.” Employers make mistakes, and sometimes the wrong person ends up in the wrong place, and the two simply can’t fit together. Kleiman has five questions employers should ask themselves when they’re determining whether it’s time to part ways with a less-than-stellar employee. These tips will help you determine if there’s still something to salvage, or if it’s time to sever ties.

AS TOLD TO COURTNEY WELU

No. 1: Can the employee do the job, and if they can, will they?

GETTY IMAGES

There are three things to consider when deciding whether an employee is a good fit for their job: Are they capable of doing the job? Will they do the job equal to or above your expectations? Can you live with them? Ideally, we want to answer these three particular questions in the hiring process. If we can do that to everyone’s comfort levels, odds are we won’t reach the point of no return. Normally, when we end up terminating employees, it’s not because they can’t do the job—it’s because they won’t. Skill set or an inability to do the work is rarely going to be your problem. Employers are good at identifying people’s skills. They’re not as good at figuring out if their employees are going to put in the necessary work, or be easy to work with.

No. 2: Is the root of the problem your responsibility or theirs?

When an employee doesn’t live up to your

expectations, you have to ask what the reasoning behind the problem is and if it’s your responsibility as their employer to fix it. Sometimes, with guidance, they can recover, but other times they’re creating the problem for themselves. Employees also have questions they need answered when they’re hired: Will the boss like me? How hard is the job? How will I be graded? What are the rules? Will I have friends there? If you’ve provided clear answers for these questions, odds are they’re going to be successful. If they’re still struggling, that means that the problem likely didn’t come from you.

No. 3: Have you made your expectations clear?

The key to retaining employees is laying out clear expectations, in the hiring process and beyond. We need to create a culture of accountability, because if we don’t, people don’t know what success for them looks like. Have you told your employees exactly what you require from them?

If you’ve told your employees what you expect, then you’ll have no problem telling them when they’re not meeting those expectations, and that anything less is unacceptable. If you’ve laid this out and they’re still not doing their job correctly, you need to practice catch and release, and let them go.

No. 4: Can your employee see what their future holds?

A struggling employee should realize what to expect if they don’t make changes. You should never have to fire anybody; they should fire themselves. One thing you could try is to tell them to take a day off and come back on Monday. Tell them they need to decide whether or not they’re going to live up to expectations or if they think it’s time to move on. Don’t just make your expectations clear; make clear what the result will be if those expectations aren’t met.

No. 5: Are you setting a bad example for the rest of your staff?

When you keep a subpar employee, you’re sending a clear message to the rest of your staff that your standards for performance aren’t high. The lowest level of expectations you’re willing to accept tells every other employee exactly how bad they can be and still keep their job. You’re telling them that they can work at a low level and stay employed. That’s not a good message to send to your organization. Don’t procrastinate getting rid of a bad employee; the best time to fire someone is the first time you decide to do it. Don’t worry too much about how your other employees will react. They know who’s pulling their weight and who isn’t. They’ll probably just ask one thing: What took you so long? February 2020 | fenderbender.com 51


STR ATEGY

SALES+MARKETING

Climbing the Charts How to set up your Google My Business page to rise near the top of online rankings and attract customers B Y K E L LY B E AT O N

If you’ve ever been baffled by your shop’s

Claim your page.

Before shop owners can rectify any unsightly elements of their Google My Business page, they need to “claim” the page, which allows them to make changes to the information presented. Typically, all that’s required to “claim” a business page is to click on “own this business” on a shop’s Google My Business page; that step is free of charge. Occasion52 fenderbender.com | February 2020

ally, business owners need to request “ownership” of their storefront business online by visiting business.google.com/ add, clicking on “request access” and then filling out a form. Zoebelein, who has helped body shops with marketing for 15 years, suggests also dedicating at least one, tech-savvy staff member to monitor the Google My Business page frequently, checking for notifications from Google if, for example, customers have posted photos of your facility on the web page.

“It could be a front-office person like a receptionist,” he says.

Consistently update your content. Making sure that your shop’s Google My Business page information—like its usual types of repair work, and frequently asked questions—is constantly up to date is key, Whitehead says. “Google looks at a lot of different variants when they score you,” says the shop operations manager, who has long aided the marketing efforts of Marcel’s Collision,

GETTY IMAGES

poor ranking in Google searches, Tom Zoebelein has some advice. Be proactive. While a shop staff can only control its online reviews so much, it can do plenty to improve its positioning when it comes to Google searches. And, in Zoebelein’s experience, it’s as important as ever that shop operators attempt to rein in their business information on web pages like Google My Business, the free business profile page that helps businesses connect with customers. Because, if a customer doesn’t like the look of a shop’s online photos, or sees a lack of helpful contact information, their eyes will quickly turn to other options. “If they don’t like what they see, they’re going to look elsewhere,” says Zoebelein, the owner of collision industry marketing firm Stratosphere Studios, near Baltimore. “Basically, the industry is going toward where people aren’t even going to have to click on your business’s website anymore,” says Michelle Whitehead, the operations manager for Marcel’s Collision in Windsor, Ontario. Customers “can get everything on Google. So, the more information you can put on there, the more likely you are to be scored highly by Google.” The marketing experts’ suggestions for improving a shop’s Google My Business presence are plenty.


they’ve zeroed in on specific factors, like proximity and relevance—and proximity almost always wins out. Then it’s relevance to the searcher—so, which words have I typed that are in that business’s profile? If we did ‘auto body paint’ we might get a different set of results.”

Get your website up to snuff.

While Zoebelein acknowledges it isn’t easy to climb the rankings on Google searches quickly, peripheral factors can be quickly addressed by shop staffs. Chief among those factors, perhaps, is simply updating and periodically enhancing the shop’s main website. “That’s definitely a factor,” he says. “That (impacts Google My Business) prominence—how well does the shop show up online. Also, Google loves fast, mobile-responsive websites, and if you have an old, clunky barge of a website that loads slowly and doesn’t provide a good user experience, you will fail … in having your Google My Business page rank well. So, keep your ‘yard clean.’” Zoebelein added that it’s important that all information like the shop’s address is presented identically on both a Google My Business page and a shop’s general website.

Include an appointment link.

which has an average rating of 4.5 stars on Google. “Making sure the content is constantly up to date (helps). If you don’t revisit it for a year, you’re not going to be popping up on” web searches. Whitehead also suggests frequently updating the “products” tab on a Google My Business page, for example, or highlighting offerings like a shop’s rental fleet.

Use specific keywords.

Another easy way to spur a shop’s climb in Google-search rankings is by getting

creative with the keywords associated with its Google My Business page. For example, instead of writing the shop’s name as “Acme Collision Center,” it might be beneficial to include phrasing like “complete auto collision and painting, and detailing services.” It can also help to include the name of your city in the shop’s title, as in “Acme Collision Center-Los Angeles.” “There are a bunch of businesses out there that specialize in Google My Business,” Zoebelein notes, “and

In order for customers to find a shop with hours that fit their schedule, the facility’s Google My Business page needs to have its hours of operation frequently updated, especially during holidays or unscheduled closings, Whitehead notes. Of similar importance, potential clients have a hard time connecting with a business if an ‘appointment’ link isn’t included on its Google My Business page. Still, many shops neglect to include that all-important piece of contact information. “To me, the biggest (key) is an appointment link,” Zoebelein says. Potential customers “are going to decide in a few clicks, ‘Am I going to do business with this shop, or not?’ And, if you’ve got someone on your Google My Business page, you want them to call you, right?” February 2020 | fenderbender.com 53


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COLUMNS

PROCESS DRIVEN R YA N C R O P P E R

Fostering Teamwork Among Staff Members

The 1980 Miracle on Ice illustrates teamwork that can take any group―including a body shop staff―to great heights I’m a huge hockey fan. And, as a re-

sult, I’ve seen the 2004 movie “Miracle” a time or two. That movie, you might recall, documents the 1980 U.S. hockey team’s stunning upset of the far more experienced and talented Soviet Union—the four-time defending gold medalist. One reason I’m such a fan of that film is because it perfectly illustrates what a group of individuals can accomplish if they’re willing to work as a team. When teams figure out how to unite, it doesn’t matter as much the skill level of the individuals, because you’re better as a team when everyone has each other’s backs. You see that in sports all the time. And, you see examples of that in wellrun body shops, too. At my shops in Alaska, our goal is to promote teamwork in everything we do. Yes, your team members will have varying skill levels, but every hockey team has a fourth line, right? Every team has talented veterans and green rookies trying to work their way up the ladder. But those employees all have to find a way to work together for the common good of the group. In that spirit, here are two valuable lessons body shop owners can take away from the movie “Miracle.”

We really promote that we’re stronger as a team. We never have just one person go out and deal with a customer that looks like they might be a problem; we always do that as multiples— as a team—so that one person isn’t left alone to deal with a difficult situation. Sometimes at body shops, you can actually hire too many superstar employees. And, one of those experienced employees might complain about having a “weak link” on the staff. But, as a shop leader, you need to remind them that, you’re always going to have a weak link, but our goal is to bring that weak link up and make them better.

Successful leaders stop problems in their tracks.

When the 1980 U.S. hockey squad got too full of itself, coach Herb Brooks had no issue putting players through punishing workouts. I’m no Herb Brooks, but I work hard to halt negativity from employees quickly. Sometimes employees start to act as individuals. If that happens, I remind them that there are places you can be an individual, but that doesn’t happen to be with our shops.

When negativity hits your staff, it hits hard, and you’re left with a degraded shop culture where one employee starts speaking negatively and it can spread quickly. A philosophy we have is to fire fast but hire slow. When we have an issue that needs to be dealt with, we will take care of that immediately. If there’s something that’s boiling and needs to be dealt with—maybe it’s an employee that’s going to leave for another shop, or it’s something that could harm our staff culture—we’re not going to say “Okay, let’s have a meeting next Tuesday.” We’re going to stop what we’re doing right then and there, call in whoever needs to be called in, and deal with it. We don’t want things to fester. I just try to be open and honest, and discuss how we can handle the issue to keep both parties happy. The 1980 Miracle on Ice provided the perfect example of teamwork. That group of underdog Americans shouldn’t have beaten the Soviets, but they did, because they were willing to work as a team. And, as a shop leader, you can inspire great teamwork, too. It just requires constant coaching, and reminding people that, as shop staffs, we’re always stronger as a team.

FUE VANG

Successful teams require trust.

In order for the 1980 U.S. hockey team to upset the Soviets, the Americans had to be confident that goaltender Jim Craig had their back, and that captain Mike Eruzione would deftly move chess pieces into the proper place on the ice. Similarly, to me, the number one thing in a body shop is to make sure that we have trust throughout our staff. When we see trust broken in any way, shape, or form, we do everything we can to repair it.

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

February 2020 | fenderbender.com 55


STR ATEGY

CASE STUDY

A TE AM

IMPLEMENTING A TEAM PAY P L A N C A N I N C R E A S E HOURS PRODUCED AND R E D U C E CYC LE TI M E

Seven years ago, Shawn Stenson and six of his staff members were sitting on an airplane on his way to Arizona. He was traveling along with other members of his BASF 20 Group. The group was on a mission to discover how they could provide rewards for their employees. At that time, Stenson was the manager of a “straighttime” facility. In other words, he was running the operations normally, with his team separated into two main groups: front administrative staff and technicians. Stenson was proud because his shop was doing well, producing nearly $2.3 million in annual revenue. But, Stenson eventually stepped off the plane in Arizona on that fateful day and changed the course of his business forever. The 20 Group met with Tim Beal, owner of Beal’s Auto Body & Paint in Prescott, Ariz., and took a tour of his shop. Beal showed the group the ins and outs of the reception area and production department, and broke down his team pay plan, which his staff was happy with. Blink! Stenson had a lightbulb go off inside his head. He was searching for a way to get his team working toward common goals and he thought to himself, “Beal’s body shop might just be the inspiration I needed.” Stenson soon traveled the 1,751 miles back to Ontario and his body shop, CSN Kingston, and promptly got to work.

56 fenderbender.com | February 2020

BY MELISSA STEINKEN PHOTOGRAPHY BY KRISTEN RITCHIE


Strategic Alliance Ontario shop operator Shawn Stenson (middle) emphasizes teamwork to help his CSN Collison Repair facility achieve group goals.

February 2020 | fenderbender.com 57


STR ATEGY

CASE STUDY

The Backstory

Stenson was running a shop that demanded a lot of hours worked by employees but was not truly rewarding them for their hard work. He thought his problems would be solved if he simply initiated a team pay plan. He was wrong, however. First, Stenson tried a pay plan with goals that were very difficult to achieve. At the time, his team was paid based on hours produced but it was not easily scalable when the team grew in size and capacity. The team’s hours produced were calculated and then if the team hit a certain level, they would receive a bonus. Yet, when some of the team was sick or had time off, those levels were harder to achieve. Stenson noticed a few problem areas. He saw his team not tracking touch time and not caring if a vehicle was sitting in the shop at length. So, he decided to tweak his team pay plan.

The Problem

Stenson wanted to unite his employees under common goals but make it easier for them to achieve bonuses. All they needed was a push and some motivation. He was sick of having his staff operate as two separate entities, one on the administration side and one on the back end of the shop floor. He also noticed an influx in administrative work as vehicles and repair procedures evolved over the years. As the repairs evolved, the front office staff needed to spend more time researching the OE repair procedures before even sending the car to the production department. What’s more, the focus in the collision repair industry was shifting toward thorough estimates and reducing supplement rates. Stenson wanted to find a way to offer not just bonuses, but bonuses that were given when every single employee in the shop contributed to a sales goal. “The work for the admin employees now is almost one-to-one with the technician,” Stenson says. “They have to look up repair procedures, look up parts, blueprint the vehicle, and create a repair plan all before completing an appraisal.”

The Solution

Stenson sat down and, within six months, created a new pay plan for his entire facility. During those six months, he consulted with other body shop owners, including other CSN Collision Repair operators. Stenson 58 fenderbender.com | February 2020

realized he needed to focus on creating a plan that had a solution in place in case a team member missed a lot of time or another team member worked extra overtime. So, he developed a second team pay plan based on the same hours produced model, but this time, all hours produced counted toward the set, monthly goal. For instance, the team knows ahead of time, that they need to meet a goal of 150 hours produced per day, and then another 150 hours the next day and so on and so on. The number is tracked on a production board on the shop floor. As the team reaches closer to the monthly number of hours produced, everyone can start to estimate their monthly bonus. His staff is paid bi-weekly. To assist the team in increasing hours produced, Stenson implemented

SOPs. Soon, each step of the process had a standard operating procedure in case someone from another department needed to take over a job. Examples of those SOPs include one for disassembly, one for estimating and one for blueprinting. The shop staff are segmented based on skill set, like one technician exclusively focusing on disassembling a vehicle, but the SOPs make it easier for another staff to substitute for a team member if she or he was out of the shop that day. Hours produced are all collected together toward the daily goal and count toward each individual technician, which spurred the CSN Kingston staff to want to keep pushing work through the shop. The team is motivated to produce more hours to reach the daily hours produced


reach for the new year. Once a sales goal is chosen, then the team will calculate how many hours they need to produce each month, and each day, to reach that bonus.

Cohesive Crew After a team pay plan was implemented that made monthly bonuses possible, employees at CSN Kingston took their teamwork to a new level.

CSN KINGSTON LOCATION:

KINGSTON, ONTARIO

“If you work as a team, you can affect change, but it takes time for people to realize what they do and how instrumental it is.”

OWNER:

PAT STENSON SIZE:

8,750 SQUARE FEET STAFF:

24 (12 ADMINS, 12 TECHS)

SHAWN STENSON GENERAL MANAGER CSN KINGSTON

AVERAGE MONTHLY CAR COUNT:

133

ANNUAL REVENUE:

$4.8 MILLION

goals and as a result, are paying closer attention to KPIs like cycle time and touch time. Now, the team knows that a lower cycle time will result in more hours and ultimately, more money. CSN Kingston’s next step was focusing on creating an ideal culture. If the whole team was getting paid on what others were doing for work, then everyone needed a “can-do” attitude. “One bad employee can ruin a team,” Stenson notes. “ We can’t have that with a team pay program. That person leaves and the rest of the staff has to pick up the slack left behind.” Specifically, Stenson evolved his front office team. He created positions for each appraiser that would eliminate unnecessary back-and-forth between

teammates. Now, a CSR has first contact with the customer and writes the walkaround estimate. The second appraiser will type up the estimate and research procedures, and the third appraiser will review appraisal and catalogue parts to order or send notes about it to the insurance company, the back-end of the shop and the customer. Ultimately, the three appraisers have more time to produce a thorough estimate and repair plan for the production department. The front office team will sit down with the technicians and determine a sales goal by themselves. Stenson notes that he might coach them to choose a goal based on past performance but the decision ultimately is the staff’s decision. They’ll choose a sales percentage they want to

The Aftermath

Under the new plan, the team has met and exceeded every sales goal they’ve established. Since implementing the second team pay plan, Stenson’s shop has a key-to-key cycle time of 8.9 days and a production cycle time of 6.9 days. Before the plan, the shop produced $28.57 in sales per square foot and after the plan, produces $45.70 sales per square foot. The new pay plan and team member shift has technicians working with one apprentice. While this is mainly due to the technician shortage in the industry, the structure helps the team focus on the plan and one clear goal: get cars out the door.

The Takeaway

The biggest challenge when Stenson switched over was getting everyone on board with the new pay setup. “If you work as a team, you can affect change,” Stenson says, “but it takes time for people to realize what they do and how instrumental it is.” February 2020 | fenderbender.com 59


STR ATEGY

CUSTOMER SERVICE

Customer-Oriented Website Layout Designing a customer-centric website starts with keeping the customer engaged BY MELISSA STEINKEN

GETTY IMAGES

You go to shop at Target.com and

know exactly what items you’re putting in your online shopping cart. While you might be tempted to walk away with more than you bargained for, you knew what you wanted and you bought it. Why? Because Target’s website has a clear call to action: spending. Collision repair shop websites also need a clear call to action. In fact, it’s vital for the industry to create websites that make it easy on a customer who has just had a stressful and potentially emotional experience. Think about the customer’s goal and your goal, and you’ll find they often align. Tyler Claypool, vice president of operations for Optima Automotive, notes it’s important to create an easy-to-use website that caters to customers. Stop 60 fenderbender.com | February 2020

adding stress onto the customer’s own stress, he suggests. Claypool has spearheaded Optima Automotive’s social media initiative for 8 years. In that time, he’s researched what people want out of a relationship with an auto body shop. He’s helped develop over 600 websites for collision repairers. Claypool shares how a body shop owner can focus on providing customerfriendly web content while seeing gains in the process.

The Top Mistakes

No matter how pristine, or modern-looking, one thinks their website is, body shops are making plenty of mistakes with regard to websites, Claypool says. “There’s too much shop talk going on,” he says. “Body shop owners are sharing

too much about how many cars they’ve fixed, the paint they’ve used and the fanciness of their shop floors.” Sure, Claypool notes, the shop should display its accomplishments, including certifications and training achievements. Yet, alongside the nitty-gritty shop information, the website should be interactive and include fun elements like quick polls to grab customers’ attention. Another mistake is posting the same content over and over. Claypool has seen numerous comments on websites in which customers promised to unfollow a business because it repeatedly posted the same pieces of content. “Shops continue to post about their buff jobs, dent repairs and paint jobs,” Claypool says. “The public does not care about these steps and that’s (simply) the reality of it.”


Key Website Features FULL- SCREEN BANNER

Take a nice-looking, clean image of the body shop and post it as the banner on the page. If the body shop pictures are not the best quality, then post a stock photo until you can get a new picture. If the customer can see the outside of the shop on the website, they’ll be able to show up to the facility in person and be comfortable because they recognize the facility.

BRIEF CONTENT

The team at Optima Automotive typically sits down with a body shop operator and interviews them. One of the questions they ask is, “What sets you apart?” That information is typically shared on the website in a brief manner. For instance, the body shop owner can talk about how simple the repair process is. A body shop owner can sprinkle in information noting their certifications, training or projects the shop is working on. While this information can be included, Claypool recommends keeping it concise.

FONT CHOICE

Claypool recommends keeping the font choice clean and simple. He recommends bolding items for emphasis and to direct the customer’s eyes to important words or phrases, like ‘online scheduling.’ He also says it’s important for shop owners to stop automating posting reviews to Facebook and the website. People lose trust in the company when they see only automated reviews. Remember that a customer is going to click on your website while thinking, “Is this shop close to me?” and, “Can they fix my car?” At the end of the day, the body shop owner wants someone to land on the home page and keep clicking through the site, all the way into the physical store. Stop the potential customer from “web surfing” and finding another easier site to use. “Think of it this way, if your customer walks into the body shop, how quickly are they able to find the customer service desk?” Claypool says. “It’s probably the first thing they see.”

SERVICES

Include a tab to talk about the services the shop offers. Claypool conducted a small survey of 20 websites to determine the amount of traffic specifically heading to the “services” tab and found that, on average, 6.24 percent of traffic goes to a shop’s services tab, a higher number for a small sampling of websites. This should be a clickable button that takes the customer directly to a page where they can make an appointment or send in an online estimate. Don’t mention any new products you offer or the type of equipment in your shop in this area, he says. The about section could include some of the certification or training information. The services section should be focused on tying the information into an overall call to action. Claypool says that section should include a contact number or email and an

easy way for the customer to click-through to make an appointment. “The call to action for the website should be centered on bringing the customer into the actual body shop," he says.

HOME BUT TON

Claypool recommends putting the home button on the right side of the screen. When people land on a page, they read from left to right, he says. The customer will have a chance to go through the other buttons on the menu screen, browse services and then have the option to go back to the home page when they get to the end of their website perusal. That creates less bouncing around for the customer. By simply placing the home button on the right hand side of the screen instead of the left, the body shop can increase conversion rates by 12.9 percent.

WEBSITE DOMAIN

A simple tweak to the website’s domain address can increase customer trust, Claypool says. He suggests having the website be a secured website and make sure “https” is in front of the name. The “s” in “https” stands for “secure” and means that it is forming a secure network over an unsecure channel. If the shop does not have this, then the business can contact the hosting provider and request it.

LOADING SPEED

If a website takes 5 seconds to load, the body shop can lose almost 50 percent of traffic, according to Claypool and Optima Automotive’s statistics. Sometimes the speed of the loading website might be due to the speed of the internet connection or large-sized images downloading, but shop owners can test website speed. It’s important to note that a lot of cheaper website hosting servers use a shared server and all that traffic going through one serve can slow a website down. To test the website speed, go to Google’s pagespeed test. It will give a score of 1 to 100. If you’re lower than 80 Claypool says the website needs to be re-evaluated. Also, for image, make sure to edit the image down in dimension size and then compress the image when saving it. February 2020 | fenderbender.com 61


62 fenderbender.com | February 2020


COLUMNS

IN THE TRENCHES STEVE MORRIS

Don’t Fear Your Biggest Goals Simple steps for achieving your dreams

NICK SPAETH, GETTY IMAGES

So, how are you doing on those New

Year's Resolutions you made last month? Fear not, dear reader, because I have a solution for you that will replace your resolutions with a system that will drastically increase your chances of achieving your dreams. That system is called the SMART goal system. You may recall that SMART is an acronym for goals that are smart, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. Last month I wrote about the first two terms and how to begin constructing written goals that are specific and measurable. Take a look at my January column if you need to catch up on this topic. For now, let’s talk about the remaining terms in order. The letter “A” stands for “attainable” or “achievable.” While I believe that your goals should be something of a stretch, you’ll want to make certain that the goal is actually achievable. For example, most companies don’t become a billion dollar enterprise overnight, so you’ll want to gauge the achievability of your goal by asking a few questions: Is this goal something I have control over? Do I have the necessary resources, knowledge and time to accomplish this goal? Are the actions I plan to take likely to bring success? Here is one of the subtle secrets to successful goal setting: You must make your goal actionable. Use action words and verbs to draft your goal by listing out the exact steps you will take to accomplish your goal. Let’s say you have a goal to exercise 30 minutes per day, five days per week but you want to make sure that is achievable. In this case, you might look at your typical daily schedule and note that you love to watch “Jeopardy” every evening at 7 p.m. and the show lasts 30 minutes. If you then construct a series of action steps, they might look like this: “I will set up my exercise bike in the TV room and will ride the bike for 30 minutes while watching the nightly episode of “Jeopardy.” I will not watch Jeopardy if I am not riding my exercise bike.” This seems to me to be a simple, action-oriented and attainable goal. The letter “R” stands for “realistic” or

“relevant.” I believe that the standard term of “realistic” fits better as a descriptor of “attainable” or “achievable.” For that reason, I tend to create goals using the term “relevant.” In simplistic terms, a relevant goal is one that is worthwhile and is actually important to you right now. Ask yourself these questions: Will this goal make a material difference on achieving my larger objectives? Is this goal closely aligned with the mission of my business or my work team? Will this goal make a meaningful, positive impact on my life, or is this just a random idea that sounds good at the moment? Let’s face it, if the goal is not important to you, it is likely to fail. If you are setting a goal for your own personal development, you’ll know if the goal “feels right” and is relevant. The letter “T” stands for “timely” or “time-bound.” Now, it might seem obvious, but goals can’t stretch out into eternity. When do you want to accomplish the goal and be able to say it’s complete? Next week, next month, 90 days from now? Robert Herjavec, one of the entrepreneurs on the TV show “Shark Tank” is quoted as having said, “A goal without a deadline is just a dream.” I think Robert may have been influenced by Napoleon Hill, the author of Think and Grow Rich who stated it this way, “A goal is a dream with a deadline.” Not withstanding the semantics of these two aphorisms, it is vital that your goals have a deadline. Otherwise, how will you know when you’ve reached the goal? Deadlines need to be specific. You can’t

say you’ll accomplish something by next summer. That’s too vague and allows you too much wiggle room to extend your goal. It’s also too ambiguous for people who may be working with you to achieve a goal. It’s better to say that your goal will be reached by a certain date so that everyone can retain their focus on the action items that need to be completed to achieve the goal. Deadlines create a sense of urgency that stimulates action. If you’ve set a goal to drop 40 pounds and you think you can do it by exercising 30 minutes per day, then the last remaining element is to decide on the date that you’ll achieve the goal. Tie that back to the “attainable” or “achievable” element and you’ll have a very solid goal in place. Using SMART criteria for setting goals is a huge improvement over the old New Year's Resolutions scenario and I hope you will begin to use this method right away in your personal and professional life. Once you’ve set some goals remember to write them down. According to a study done by Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at Dominican University in California, you become 42 percent more likely to achieve your goals simply by writing them down on a regular basis. Lastly, don’t forget to celebrate small wins that you make along the way to achieving your main goal. Our brains are wired in such a way that celebrating wins creates a sense of happiness and these accomplishments stimulate further motivation to reach the finish line.

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

February 2020 | fenderbender.com 63


Unified Front CARSTAR Liss’ husband and wife leadership team has streamlined front-office processes in recent years.

64 fenderbender.com | February 2020


SHOP TALK

L

“ YOU NEED TO LET YOUR TEAM MAKE MISTAKES. ” COREY AND CHARLOTTE LISS CO-OWNERS CARSTAR LISS AUTO BODY CROWN POINT, IND. PHOTOGRAPHY BY JUSTIN CASTERLINE

February 2020 | fenderbender.com 65


SHOP TALK

COREY AND CHARLOTTE LISS

Two locations? Check. Two hours from Indianapolis? Check. Two shop operators? Check. Two seems to be the magic number at CARSTAR Liss Auto Body, owned and operated by husband and wife Corey and Charlotte Liss. While some shop operators work best alone, the Liss duo tackles managing shops by splitting responsibilities. For instance, Cory tackles the day-to-day operations and workflow logistics. Charlotte, meanwhile, focuses her talents on marketing the business. “I work on bringing cars into the shop,” Charlotte notes. Corey is a third-generation owner of the business, which his grandfather opened in 1946. As a result, he’s accustomed to a family philosophy that prioritizes hard work and putting one’s all into the business’s future. However, today, Liss’ work ethic centers around work-life balance. Gone are the long work days, and little to no time for family. The Liss’ focus on maintaining a balance between work, making time for themselves and giving back to the community. AS TOLD TO MELISSA STEINKEN

In the Shop Corey spends the majority of his workdays in the shop, managing workflow and the team, at large. The shop opens at 8 a.m. so I typically get there at the same time. My days are

mostly filled with paperwork and taking a walk around the shop floor to check on the status of vehicles. Our team has a daily production meeting in which we discuss the day’s cars and the schedule. Sometimes, I attend production meetings but, for most of the week, at least three days of the week, I let my body shop manager or production manager lead the meeting. I like to be there when I can and keep an eye on tasks, but I’m not an essential part to the meeting. 66 fenderbender.com | February 2020

I spend a large portion of my day working on projects that improve workflow or efficiency. Either it’s a project from CAR-

STAR’s Edge performance program or it’s a personal goal I’m trying to complete. One of my latest projects was working to improve the quality-control process within the shop. We focused on the process of quality control and hard stock quality performance. It was a big project because we had to make sure we were following the OE’s guidelines and repair procedures along each step. This project took us about six months to implement. Roughly two months of that time was simply working with staff to train them on the process and get staff buy-in. Too often the mentality in the industry

is that you need a body in the chair and it needs to be filled immediately. I actu-

ally think it’s better off for the business to have an empty “chair” or job position open in the shop. I’ve created an environment in my shop where, if there’s a shortage of technicians or other positions, everyone picks up the slack and is accountable. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned throughout the years is to not hire too fast. Some of the qualities I look for in employees include people focused on selling, people who want to please others and people with a can-do attitude. I’ve also had a lot of success training staff myself. Instead of hiring a techni-

cian based on skill-level, I’ll hire based on


My car is my office. I’m constantly on the

go, either visiting vendors, parts suppliers or insurance agents. I typically work remotely and sometimes I work from my home office. Each day, I pick a section of the market and visit those agents. I like to touch base with our clientele in the industry and keep our name out there. For instance, sometimes I bring a candy bar and have a fun saying to accompany it. I’ve brought in Snicker bars before and say, “Hey, I wanted to give you something to snicker about today.” My goal is to visit 8–10 agents each day. Focus on Efficiency Indiana shop owners Corey and Charlotte Liss stay in perpetual motion most workdays, in an effort to consistently end their work around 5 p.m.

CARSTAR LISS AUTO BODY OWNERS:

COREY AND CHARLOTTE LISS LOCATION:

CROWN POINT, IND. SIZE:

8,900 SQUARE FEET STAFF:

18 (6 IN THE OFFICE, 12 IN BACK END) AVERAGE MONTHLY CAR COUNT:

50 FOR BOTH LOCATIONS

ANNUAL REVENUE:

$3.6 MILLION FOR BOTH LOCATIONS

characteristics and then train them from there. You need to take someone who wants to build a career in the industry and show them that you are offering that possibility at your shop. You need to let your team make mistakes for themselves. During the day, if I’m not

in the body shop itself, I’ll let my managers know that I trust them and that they don’t need to ask me for anything. Most of the time, if I’m off site, and they have a question that they can’t solve independently, they’ll simply text me or send me a quick email.

My days used to end around 8 or 9 p.m. at night. I had a bad habit of working too

much within the shop. I would get home

late at night and not even eat dinner until 10 p.m. I liked working in the body shop. Then one day, I realized that the business can still grow without an owner present 24/7. I decided to relinquish some of my authority. Now, I got home around 5 p.m. I’ve start-

ed to appreciate a work-life balance. For instance, it used to be so shifted toward work that the whole body shop would work on the day after Thanksgiving. Now, everyone has that day off. We’ve also started closing for Christmas and New Year’s.

Out of the Shop Charlotte, on the other hand, almost always works remotely, spending the majority of her day visiting business partners.

Realistically, this doesn’t happen everyday but when it does, I try to coax some of the back-office staff out to meet with me, as well. During the holidays, I dress up as the appropriate character for the holiday and go around to the agents. For the winter holidays, I dress up as Santa or a reindeer. Then, I ask them if they want a holiday picture taken with me. Who doesn’t want a group picture with Santa Claus? And, it all loops back to staying in front of the customers and insurance agents. I take the photos and let them know we’re going to post them to our social media including Facebook and Instagram. I ask them for an email, as well, so I can email them the picture once I get back to my “office.” This way, they’re happy and they get a fun picture and I get more emails to add to my network. I’m one of those workers that, if given the opportunity, I can do the job bigger and better. We do a huge golf outing each

year to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. We typically raise about $26,000 per year. In all the years that the shop has been participating in giving to Make-A-Wish Foundation, we’ve collectively raised about $200,000. The body shop was already participating in this charity fundraiser for two to three years before I came on board. We have a few corporate sponsors for the event, including 3M and Enterprise Rental Cars which has helped boost the money raised. When I first started we were raising about $6,000, the next year around $8,000, and so on. I have never golfed before in my life but I took a gamble. Ever since, I decided to keep doing the fundraiser, making it bigger and better each year. February 2020 | fenderbender.com 67


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February 2020 | fenderbender.com 69


UPDATE

SUNN WEST CITY’S AUTO BODY

Mission Critical Arizona shop owner Patrick Gray, left, communicates effectively by stating his clear vision for each repair task.

A look at the best tactics for reaching modern employees. B Y K E L LY B E AT O N

Patrick Gray used to lead on the shop floor by using the mentality of a no-nonsense football coach. That was an observation shared with FenderBender in a 2010 article, in which a former painter of his noted how seriously—and, occasionally, harshly—Gray spoke to his staff. These days, Gray has mellowed a bit. Yet, his new management style is every bit as effective. Instead of being a stern, Mike Ditka-like leader, the Arizona shop operator has become “a player’s coach” who consistently displays empathy and respect for staff members. “Now I just have a higher value for employees,” says Gray, a co-owner of Sunn West City’s Auto Body, in Surprise, Ariz. Gray, who recently took over ownership of the Phoenix-area shop with his wife, Cynthia, has used his lessons learned with regard to management to spur the 35-year-old business’s ascent. Not only does the shop boast a 98.6 CSI score, but its cycle time has also been whittled down to 7.8 days on average. Below, the 33-year veteran of the collision repair industry offers his tips for effective management.

State your overall mission.

One factor that has helped Gray command respect on his 11-member staff is the clear mission he has shared on his shop floor. In recent months, he has made it well-known that he wants his staff to foster a long-term relationship with customers whenever possible. “By doing that, we’ve changed the way we’ve managed our customers,”says Gray, whose facility has an annual revenue of $1.8 million. “It’s a single point of contact, start to finish, in a very welcoming, comfortable atmosphere. And we really noticed a change right away with that.” 70 fenderbender.com | February 2020

Make employees feel valued.

As imperative as using lean principles and also tweaking the shop’s layout have been to Gray’s business recently, simply treating employees with respect may have been most important. As long as employees are willing to work hard and embrace Gray’s coaching, he has little hesitation when it comes to hiring from within. On multiple occasions in his career, Gray has promoted a porter to an estimator role, for example. “I create an expectation,” for employees, Gray says, “and I expect the same.”

Be transparent.

As the years have rolled on, Gray has softened on his approach to scheduling employees. While he originally came from the school of thinking that employees needed to work until 5 p.m. at the very least, he is now willing to accommodate employees who need to leave early. And, on the rare occasion in which an employee is allowed to leave at, say, 3:45 p.m. each day, Gray typically explains to other staff members that he wouldn’t have made such a decision if the shop’s repair work suffered as a result. “We measure everybody’s performance and we share it,” he explains, “so that’s our way of showing the team that it’s not affecting our overall performance.”

Respect employees’ personal lives.

In a similar vein, Gray and his wife try to be sensitive to the needs and desires of millennial employees. Having scheduling flexibility helps. Lending an empathetic ear also makes an undeniable difference. For example, one of Sunn West City’s employees works a shift at the opposite time of day as his wife and, as a result, is allowed to leave earlier than most of the shop staff. And, when young employees express a desire for training on evolving shop-floor technology, the request is typically met. Having happy employees, more often than not, leads to solid workplace productivity, in Gray’s experience. “I think understanding the needs of your employees,” is important, he explains. “It’s not being a pushover, but understanding the difference, and then figuring out how it [benefits] the shop.”

ANDREW OLIVEROS

How to Reach Modern Employees


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Take the survey March 2-31. Go to fenderbender.com/survey. February 2020 | fenderbender.com 71


COLUMNS

OUTSIDE THE LINES JASON BOGGS

Moving Forward

How we acknowledge success—and failure—determines future outcomes

where we did a memory exercise as a team. The entire group had to memorize a list of 20 items and then work together to recite that list back in the correct order. On our first attempt, we made it to four before someone got the fifth item wrong. We started over and, sadly, got number five on the list wrong a second time. At that point, we took a timeout and developed a strategy for how to approach the task and we made it all the way to 16 before someone missed the 17th item on the list. We were so close, and when that person couldn’t remember number 17, we all got very frustrated—we were so fixated on getting all 20! Our instructor stopped us to ask us a few questions about our frustration. He pointed out that on our first two attempts, we made it only to number 4, while on our third attempt, we made it to 16. That was a 400 percent increase over the first two takes—and our reaction was disappointment?! I can tell you I felt foolish when he pointed that out. Have you ever found yourself disappointed at your company’s results only to later realize it wasn’t as bad as you thought? How you react to missing goals can have a lot of influence on your team’s future performance. Imagine being a technician working for a boss who got upset at a 400 percent increase in production! It would not be a pleasant environment in which to work in. Yet the biggest lesson for me took over a year to truly sink in, which I’ll get back to shortly. At this time of the year, it’s likely you are well on your way to achieving some big goals you set at the start of the year. But, if you are anything like our group in that memory experiment, you might not always hit your mark. Remembering the big picture will help you realize how to react and put things into perspective. There have been times in our company’s history where I have been very disappointed in our results, only to 72 fenderbender.com | February 2020

take a step back and realize that if we have achieved the same results just six months prior, I would have been thrilled. Sitting in the leader’s chair, I think it’s OK to feel some frustration when we don’t achieve our desired goals. But, our reaction we show to the team can have a big effect on how they perform moving forward. The key lesson I learned from that class, which took me about a year to truly grasp, was to look at the effort versus the results. If an honest effort is being given, it’s likely that the desired results will come very soon. That was the trick to not reacting poorly when we didn’t hit the goal we set out to: focusing on the effort. And if you don’t get the results you are looking for, despite the team giving a strong effort, then it’s likely that the game plan was poorly designed, which falls on the leader’s shoulders. That’s when it’s time to put the coaching hat on. The first column I ever wrote for FenderBender discussed the difference between coaching and teaching. There are so many traits of a good coach that we should apply to leading a body shop. One of the best traits of a professional sports coach is their ability to get over a loss quickly. Good coaches, regardless of the outcome of the most recent game, will focus on their next opponent in their post-game press conference.

Our industry should be no different. We will have periods when we don’t produce the way we are capable of. Dwelling on bad jobs, days, or even weeks isn’t very productive and usually hurts morale. Taking the cue from sports coaches is a good practice: just focus on the next customer or next vehicle. Another great lesson I learned from that memory exercise is that, when things are going in the wrong direction, stop and regroup. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results. Sometimes when things aren’t going well, it’s a good idea to just pause and get the group together to assess what is causing the problems. The goal of these sessions is not to point fingers at the culprits, but to tweak the game plan for success. One of my favorite takeaways from the book The Toyota Way is when they talked about stopping the assembly line so they could identify what needed to be fixed in their processes. The next time you see results from your team that don’t meet your expectations, take a minute to ask yourself a few questions: Do the results show you are on a positive trajectory? Is your team giving a strong effort, or do you need to make changes to your processes to set your team up for success? It takes some real guts to stop a body shop in the middle of the day, but the dividends from the times we have done that have always paid off exponentially.

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

FUE VANG

A while ago, I was in a leadership class


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ECS VIN Licensed Reproduction

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* applies to all SATA RPS standard cups, however not to SATAminijet 3000 and older series.

SATA®RPS™

#01

BENDABLE The *SATA RPS cup can be safely tilted by up to 45° forward, right and left to facilitate easy access to almost any painting situation.

#03 SAFE

Firm connection between lid and cup (thread). No accidential detaching of cup from lid.

#02 CLEAN

The cup can be easily, cleanly and safely separated from the spray gun without making a mess!

#04

REFILLABLE The cups can be easily be refilled. The paint strainer can be exchanged by a spare strainer at any time.

For more information, please watch our product video at www.sata.com/rps

The exclusive independent distributor of SATA products in the US and Puerto Rico 74 fenderbender.com | February 2020

Call Today! 800-533-8016 email: satajet@satausa.com

www.satausa.com

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FenderBender - February 2020  

FenderBender - February 2020  

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