Get a bigger return from your detail department PAGE 52
6 lessons for effective leadership PAGE 55
Simple steps for addressing staff complaints
“What it really comes down to is doing the right thing.” —Alan Kirkpatrick, Herb’s Body & Paint
Earn Trust Why staff and customer loyalty should be at the heart of your business PAGE 32
NOVEMBER 2016 // FENDERBENDER.COM
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Incorporating the best of European and American waterborne technologies, the ENVIROBASE® High Performance system is the result of PPG’s unrivaled scientific research and coatings expertise. Now in its third generation, this advanced waterborne technology continues to set the industry standard. And to ensure exceptional color match, PPG partners with automakers to document color information and capture variants across four continents. With global resources like these, the Envirobase High Performance system can make a world of difference for you and your business.
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©2016 All rights F E NPPG D E RIndustries, B E N D E RInc. .COM / / reserved. NOVEMBER 2016 The PPG Logo and Envirobase are registered trademarks of PPG Industries Ohio, Inc.
ON THE COVER
Alan Kirkpatrick photographed by Jason Jones
NOVEMBER 2016 // VOLUME 18 // NUMBER 11
32. How They Did It
Three shop operators share their stories of success and the keys to thriving in the modern collision repair industry. BY BRYCE EVANS AND TRAVIS BEAN
40. Technology Driven
David Niestroy has used his natural ingenuity to power innovation at his family’s budding MSO. BY TRAVIS BEAN
46. The Small Things Parts manager Kerrie Kolus’ systematic, detailed approach to operations helps her department thrive.
BY TRAVIS BEAN
Helping Hand Kerrie Kolus, parts manager at Schade’s Auto Body, works hands-on to streamline her department to increase efficiency for the rest of the team.
PRINTED IN THE U.S.A. COPYRIGHT ©2016 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 Twin Cities, MN, and additional mailing offices. FenderBender is a member of BPA Worldwide. POSTMASTERS Send address changes to: FenderBender, 571 Snelling Avenue North, St. Paul, MN 55104.
29. The Big Idea 9. Past the Page 11. Driver’s Seat 13. Light Hits
» BY KEVIN RAINS
30. On the Business
What the autonomous vehicle means for your business
14. Snap Shop
Jensen’s Target Collision Inc.
17. Quick Fix
ANALYSIS The search for an opt-alt OE
parts definition NUMBERS The impact of DRPs on
shop net profit HOW IT WORKS Stringo dolly system AWARDS INSIGHT Vendor Ed Worden
on managing technicians IDEA SHOP Handling staff complaints
» BY MIKE ANDERSON
64. In the Trenches
Four steps to unburden your hefty workload
» BY DARRELL AMBERSON
Sandy Rogers of FranklinCovey on leadership
Selecta Auto Body’s unique shop signage system
STRATEGY 52. Finance+Operations Often overlooked, the detail department is crucial in providing a quality, final product. Here are four tips to help your detailers thrive.
Every business needs a successful leader at the top, industry veteran Jim Keller says. He shares his secrets to becoming a great leader.
58. Case Study
Bob Gottfred’s focus on technology has kept his 82-year-old business on the frontline of industry innovation.
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THINKSTOCK, COREY HENGEN
The three decision-making factors that can shape the future of your business
ACCEPT NO IMITATIONS
You can rely on Kia when it comes to collision parts. Don’t settle for imitations, give them the real deal with Genuine Kia Parts. High Quality and Excellent Fit at a Great Price. CHOOSE KIA! From headlights to tail lights, collision parts to transmissions and compressors, there’s just no substitute for genuine. And the ONL Y place you can purchase a Genuine Kia Part, backed by the Kia warranty**, is from your local Authorized Kia Dealership. Don’t get stuck selling counterfeit and parts not covered by the Kia factory warranty - contact your local Authorized Kia Dealer today for Genuine Kia Parts and Genuine Kia Reman Parts.
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EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD Robert McSherry North Haven Auto Body Greg McVicker Budd Baer Collision Center Steven Morris Pride Collision Centers Mark Probst Probst Auto Body Randy Sattler Rydell Collision Center Kerry Woodson Jungerman CARSTAR
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AFTER A COLLISION, IT PAYS TO USE HYUNDAI GENUINE PARTS.
Hyundai Genuine Part
2011 Sonata subject to NCAP protocol testing at an independent facility.
Hyundai and Hyundai model names are registered trademarks of Hyundai Motor Company and Hyundai Motor America. All rights reserved. © 2016 Hyundai Motor America.
Your company’s reputation is priceless. So why risk damaging it, and your future, by using counterfeit collision parts that simply can’t deliver the same look, fit, reliability and warranty coverage as the originals? Using Hyundai Genuine Parts consistently protects your reputation and virtually guarantees a satisfied customer. So spec Hyundai Genuine Parts instead. And prevent far worse damage from happening after an accident. For more information on Hyundai’s Consumer awareness campaign and a crash course in collision, go to HyundaiUSA.com/ ConsumerAwareness.
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PAST THE PAGE
COMMENTS, DISCUSSIONS, FEEDBACK AND MORE FROM AROUND THE WEB
FROM THIS ISSUE’S SPONSORS Click on the logo below for product information. Axalta Coating Systems
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MAKE A CHANGE
Mike Anderson of @CollisionAdvice getting his keynote underway. @FenderBenderMag #Fbconference O’Reilly Auto Parts
@NHSasbdirector: Congratulations Mr. Cook! @FenderBenderMag Award Winner!
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COLLISION C A S T
» COLLISION CAST
This month, Managing Editor Bryce Evans discusses business-building strategies with one of the industry’s top shop operators.
Toyota and Chrysler reps, shop leaders discuss why pre- and post-repair scanning is essential today.
CONNECT WITH US ONLINE facebook/FenderBenderMag @FenderBenderMag FenderBender - The Collision Repair Professionals Forum youtube.com/FenderBenderMag fenderbenderlive.com fenderbender.com/googleplus
When your craftsmanship gets paired with our high-tech tools, there’s no such thing as good-as-new – it’s just new. Breathe new life into your projects with our full line of innovative collision repair tools, training and unrivaled support.
chiefautomotive.com/nothingelse/fb 10 F E N D E R B E N D E R . C O M / / N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 6
NOTHING ELSE IS A
Our Extended Family Helping you improve and grow your business is at the heart of
everything we do at FenderBender. I said it at the FenderBender Management Conference, but it’s worth repeating here: Our publication is not successful unless we are helping you succeed. We serve you, plain and simple, and we take great care and pride in doing it. These pages could not exist otherwise. But we don’t do it alone. From our volunteer editorial advisory board members (see the roster on page 6) who review each issue and help keep us on track with what’s happening on the industry’s front lines to our three superstar columnists who share their insight each month for the benefit of their peers, FenderBender has a formidable extended family. And it extends even further. Every shop operator who agrees to an interview, every FenderBender Management Conference speaker, sponsor, and attendee, every reader of this publication— we are all engaged in one way or another in this greater effort to advance the industry. As Mike Anderson said in his column a couple of months back, none of us can do it alone. In this month’s cover story on page 32, we take a more literal approach to business building, with three shop operators explaining precisely “How They Did It,” which is the name of the piece. The story, by Bryce Evans and Travis Bean, takes a deep dive into real challenges and solutions from each of the featured shops. It’s a great example of operators sharing their experiences for the betterment of others in the industry. For Alan Kirkpatrick of Herb’s Paint & Body, one of the operators in the story, it’s reflective of the way he goes about his business and the community service he’s known for. “This is a 60-year-old business,” Kirkpatrick says in the story, “and it’s built on that simple idea: Do the right thing.” We appreciate the contributions from Kirpatrick and all of the other industry pros who have become a part of the FenderBender family. It’s humbling, inspiring and shows that the future for collision repair is bright.
Jake Weyer, editorial director email@example.com
Your Industry’s News, in Brief NEXT-GEN JEEP WRANGLER TO SPORT ALUMINUM HOOD, DOORS
The 2018 Jeep Wrangler will use aluminum in parts of its body panels, according to a leaked memo from Alcoa. The memo showed that Alcoa, a supplier of lightweight materials and advanced manufacturing techniques, has been contracted by Jeep to supply three different types of lightweight alloys for body panels, including the inner and outer portions of the hood, and the inner door panels.
COURTESY OF JEEP
U.S. DOT ISSUES POLICY ON AUTONOMOUS CARS
The U.S. Department of Transportation in September issued its guidance for the future development and implementation of autonomous cars. The guidelines, dubbed the Federal Automated Vehicles Policy, aim to influence the development of this technology to ensure vehicle safety from OEMs in all 50 states. The DOT emphasized the policy—which is broken up into four sections, including Vehicle Performance Guidance for Automated Vehicles, Model State Policy, NHTSA’s Current Regulatory Tools and Modern Regulatory Tools—is guidance rather than a final rule. The policy covers topics like crashworthiness, postcrash behavior, validation methods and privacy. The guidelines provide clear boundaries between federal and state responsibilities, freeing up states to create their own policies. The federal government will cover safety standards; compliance; recalls and public education; and states will focus on testing permissions, law and regulation enforcement, as well as licensing. The government has asked automakers to sign and submit when an autonomous car is believed to be ready for public roads.
“As the digital era increasingly reaches deeper into transportation, our task at the U.S. Department of Transportation is not only to keep pace, but to ensure public safety while establishing a strong foundation such that the rules of the road can be known, understood, and responded to by industry and the public,” the U.S. DOT said in the statement. “The self-driving car raises more possibilities and more questions than perhaps any other transportation innovation under present discussion.” “As the Department charged with protecting the traveling public, we recognize three realities that necessitate this guidance,” the statement said. “First, the rise of new technology is inevitable. Second, we will achieve more significant safety improvements by establishing an approach that translates our knowledge and aspirations into early guidance. Third, as this area evolves, the ‘unknowns’ of today will become ‘knowns’ tomorrow. We do not intend to write the final word on highly automated vehicles here. Rather, we intend to establish a foundation and a framework upon which future Agency action will occur.” SYMACH EXPANDS GLOBAL REACH
Symach announced that 46 repair shops across Australia, North America, Europe and the Middle East are now
using its FixLine process. The FixLine system consists of a layout and repair process that combines Symach’s Drytronic robotic paint drying technology and the Symach Paint Application Process. Symach is one of the first companies to have produced a robot for drying paint. “Compared to conventional methods, the FixLine system reduces the average cost of repair by 25 percent and the key-to-key time to approximately two days,” said Osvaldo Bergaglio, CEO of Symach. FixLine allows for a more organized workflow continuously throughout the day so a shop is able to use approximately 30 percent fewer technicians while still repairing the same number of vehicles per day. SprayTron and KombiTron, the two available configurations, can repair 10 cars per day with one painter and 20 cars per day with two painters, respectively. “Symach’s Drytronic technology dries body filler, primer, waterborne and clear in one minute and 30 seconds per panel, which allows a continuous workflow during each phase of the repair,” Bergaglio said. “This means that damaged cars can be repaired without interruption and technicians don’t have to handle three or more different cars at a time during the working process like they do today.”
» For your daily collision repair news visit fenderbender.com/lighthits CLICK HERE
Jensen’s Target Collision Erie, Pa. OWNER Richard Howell SIZE 15,000 square feet STAFF 15 AVERAGE MONTHLY CAR COUNT 90 ANNUAL REVNUE: $2 million SHOP
The most eye-catching asset in the new building is its lobby/showroom. “We’ve redone it totally,” Howell says. “We actually have two rental companies—our own, which is Target Xpress Rent-A-Car, and then an Enterprise Rent-A-Car office inside our showroom. [Customers] can sit there and Enterprise can get them lined up in a car as they’re filing their claim right from my office, right in the showroom.” The $50,000 expansion of the lobby also afforded JTC the space at the front of the shop to offer accessories like batteries, wiper blades and floor mats, which have helped sales increase by over 15 percent since June. Another element of JTC’s overhaul that has garnered rave reviews: its improved waiting area in the recently added building, which is 100-percent handicapped accessible. New vinyl wood plank flooring was among that area’s additions. “The customer, their first impression when they walk into the office is definitely pleasing. And we get a lot of compliments on how comfortable and warm it is,” says Howell, whose business also recently tripled the amount of parking out front and increased exposure to a nearby thoroughfare.
An upgraded and expanded office area has allowed Howell to increase the amount of employees who work from the front of his shop. There’s ample room for up to three estimators, a receptionist and a bookkeeper to work up front. “They love it. It has made their days much easier,” Howell says, referring to his office employees’ current morale. “We were in an area about one-third the size [previously], with three people stumbling into one another on a busy Monday morning when everyone was dropping off their cars.” That area of the revamped JTC features granite countertops and a simulated stone wall, with one-way glass looking out from a pair of private offices. Howell recently dedicated an area for insurance adjusters, primarily Progressive and Allstate representatives, to use as needed. Eighteen additional bays were created as a result of JTC’s expansion into the new building. The new structure features 13 bays for collision repairs, three for frame work, and two for clean up. That has resulted in less congestion than in the past; divider walls in JTC’s first structure separated departments, creating the occasional bottleneck. Howell says the “wideopen” layout of his new building has helped streamline work. JTC’s enclosed estimating area was a valuable addition in late 2016. Previously, estimating was done in the parking lot—not ideal in Erie, which averages a little more than 100 inches of snow per year. The estimating area currently features an awning, but a pair of garage doors will be added in January 2017. This addition has been a hit with employees, the owner says. “They’re very happy,” Howell notes, “with the whole transformation of what we’ve done.”
» To see other shop spaces or to submit your own, go to fenderbender.com/snapshop CLICK HERE
COURTESY JENSEN’S TARGET COLLISION
Jensen’s Target Collision had raked in solid revenue in recent years, but a few elements of the business were operating in fits and starts. Five years ago, owner Richard Howell took the initial step toward retooling his business. In 2016, Howell purchased an old car wash located next door to his Erie, Pa., shop and added several bays to his facility and more than doubled its office space. “We do about $2 million a year, average, in sales,” Howell notes. “And with the number of customers in and out, and with the old office, we had outgrown it.” Jensen’s Target Collision (JTC) officially added operations in its second building on June 1, after a nearly five-month expansion process. The new building houses the facility’s collision center and frame division, in addition to office space. The old structure houses JTC’s paint department, mechanical division and an area designated for rust-proofing and bedliner work.
The Only Parts Backed by the Factory Warranty. Your Customers Deserve the Very Best! Safety is paramount for every auto consumer. As a result, many U.S. States have passed counterfeit airbag laws to help protect drivers and their passengers. Protect your customers from harm and provide only the very best. Insist on Genuine Kia Parts.
Find your local Kia dealer at Kia.com Images for illustration only. For maximum protection, always wear your seat belt. ** Kia Genuine replacement parts (except battery) sold by an Authorized Kia Dealer under warranty are covered for the greater of (1) the duration of the New Vehicle Limited Warranty or (2) the first 12 months from the date of installation of the Kia Genuine replacement parts or 12,000 miles. Labor charges not included when not installed by an Authorized Kia Dealer. Warranty is limited. See Kiaâ€™s Replacement Parts and Accessories Limited Warranty for 16further F E N Ddetails. ERBENDER.COM // NOVEMBER 2016
DID YOU KNOW
Just 14 states have passed laws that prohibit the manufacturing, installation and selling of counterfeit airbags.
NEWS // IDEAS // PEOPLE // TRENDS IN BRIEF
To see a list of states with laws prohibiting counterfeit airbags, go to fenderbender.com/airbaglaws.
New Parts Classification Causes Confusion With the introduction of opt-alt OE parts, the line between what parts should and shouldn’t be used is blurrier than ever BY TESS COLLINS
In 2015 alone, the National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that 51 million cars were recalled. That number, paired with the massive Takata recall, which has affected 34 million vehicles in the U.S. and has been linked to at least nine deaths, has brought automotive parts usage into mainstream news and intensified the argument over what types of parts should or shouldn’t be used when performing a collision repair. Some clear lines have been drawn between what is acceptable and what isn’t. For example, 14 states have made it illegal to use counterfeit airbags. While some lines between right and wrong are clearly laid out like this, others are more unclear. Confusing the issue further is a relatively new term to emerge in the past few years: opt-alt OE parts; it’s a loose term, one that can be used to describe surplus OE parts or parts created by an OE manufacturer that don’t quite meet the strict OE standard. The lack of distinction is where the problem lies. While there are many different classifications of parts—original, recycled, remanufactured, non-certified, certified, etc.—many feel there’s a need
to make the opt-alt OE part distinction official, adding a third major category of parts to the old standards of OE and aftermarket. Many vendors are already selling parts under this distinction, but the question remains: What defines an opt-alt OE part?
Lack of Distinction Although a clear definition or classification system is not available, there’s been no shortage of discussion or opinions on the opt-alt OE parts topic. Rick McLarty and Jaime Ramos, program managers from the Bureau of Automotive Repair’s (BAR) safety division, took part in a panel discussion on opt-alt OE parts during the NACE/ CARS Expo & Conference this summer in Anaheim, Calif. McLarty and Ramos made it clear that in compliance with the Automotive Repair Act, BAR does not recognize or accept the term opt-alt OE for a crash part. BAR only acknowledges parts described as new, used, rebuilt or reconditioned for an OE part and classifies any aftermarket parts as non-OE. Chris Evans of State Farm is the chairman of the Collision Industry Conference Definitions Committee, which was tasked in April to come up
with a workable definition for opt-alt OE parts. Evans had a conference call with members of the committee at the end of September, which focused on what an opt-alt OE part was not rather than what it was. The committee decided that the definition would not be based on stakeholder positions and it would not assign good or bad labels for specific types of parts. Instead, two of the conference call participants who work with OEMs offered to bring the discussion to a SEMA roundtable in November. Evans hopes that after that discussion, the committee will be able to craft a definition and classification system. Until that definition comes, how are shops supposed to know whether or not to purchase and install different types of parts?
Repercussions of Bad Parts Billy Walkowiak, who founded Collision Safety Consultants, which specializes in post-repair inspections, uses the issue of counterfeit airbags as an example of why parts definitions are critical—not only to the collision repair industry, but also to the safety of consumers. “Airbags for example—the wrong one could mean that it doesn’t deploy, NOVEMBER 2016
NEW PARTS CLASSIFICATION
it’s life or death,” Walkowiak says. Sometimes, he adds, airbags aren’t even installed. Some states have taken legislative action to address the issue. Washington, for example, is one of 14 states to pass a law criminalizing the selling, installation and manufacturing of counterfeit airbags. Wash. State House
Rep. Roger Goodman, who took on the bill as his own, says he was pleasantly surprised at how quickly it passed.
The Blurred Line Counterfeit parts are not the only dangerous parts on the market, which is what makes classification so important.
Best Welders. Best Support. OEM Certified Approvals
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Keith Friedman, president of Friedman Research Corporation, conducts research to investigate crashworthiness. Friedman says that there are a number of different reasons that parts are recalled. After all, Takata wasn’t installing counterfeit parts. From what Friedman has seen in his testing, most of the time the problematic airbags are due to the sensing and deployment systems within the car. Counterfeit parts are clearly bad and OE parts are ideal. But what about the parts in between, including opt-alt OE? How should shops go about selecting parts and ensuring proper repairs?
How Shops Can Prepare
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As of yet, there’s no clear definition for opt-alt OE parts and there’s been no consensus on exactly what parts are safe to use (genuine OE parts might be the only part the industry can agree on), but shops still have a responsibility to ensure safe repairs. Friedman says that dealing directly with the manufacturer is the only way to go. If shops decide to go through an alternate supplier, he suggests using resources like the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Dan Hendrickson, communications coordinator for the BBB, advises shops to research the vendors they use to make sure they are selling what they say they’re selling. If there’s any concern about a part and its authenticity, Hendrickson advises that the part is taken to an inspector, like Walkowiak. Friedman also adv ises shop owners and consumers against purchasing any product that’s priced significantly differently than the OE. Walkowiak recommends that every shop perform diagnostic scans before and after a repair, to check for any damage that may have been missed. The consensus was that until a clear definition system is created, the safest route for shops to take when it comes to parts is to deal directly with the manufacturer.
16-386 COL Fender Bender October 2016 Issue Ads.indd 5
9/2/2016 8:13:25 AM
When it comes to parts certification, fit is just the beginning.
You may be able to eyeball a replacement part and tell if it will fit or give you a hard time. But it’s impossible to look at a part and determine if it’s galvanized, made of the correct material, or even if the welds are all correctly positioned. But it’s impossible to look at a part and determine if it’s galvanized, made of the correct material, safe, or even if the welds are all correctly positioned. CAPA created the industry’s first-ever auto crash part testing and certification program over 29 years ago to eliminate all doubt. To provide the gold standard for quality replacement parts for everyone whose livelihood depends on quality repairs. TM
CAPA Certified parts. The only replacement parts good enough to earn the yellow and blue CAPA Quality Seal. That’s always a good fit.
If it isn’t CAPA Certified, it isn’t a genuine replacement part. capacertified.org NOVEMBER 2016
DRP’s Impact on Net Profit While 54 percent of respondents to FenderBender’s 2016 KPI Survey reported net profit margins of more than 11 percent, looking at a breakdown of those net profit numbers offered a glimpse at which shops are primarily generating those higher net margins. While shops that rely heavily on DRP partnerships tend to be larger, their net profits are not: When looking at the percentage of total sales as the result of DRPs, shops that are a part of zero direct repair programs (DRPs) reported the most consistently high net profit margins.
Net profit margin of more than 11%
% of total sales the result of DRPs
READ WHAT THE PROS READ. “I HAVE TO TAKE MY HAT OFF TO FENDERBENDER. IT’S DEFINITELY BETTER & ABOVE THE REST.” - Greg Lobsiger, Owner | Loren’s Auto Body, Bluffton, IND.
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Valspar Automotive brings more power to your business. That means youâ€™ll have better access to more of the high-performance refinishing products you want, including advanced technology paints, coatings systems and accessories. Plus, youâ€™ll get the technical assistance and expert help you need, all in one place, for great results from start to refinish.
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TRAINING: Training videos are available on the company’s website
A motorized device to more easily move vehicles
USES: Moving vehicles COST: Price varies based on model, up to $30,000
BY TESS COLLINS
COURTESY McCARRAN AUTO BODY
T HE SHOP: The 15,000-square-foot McCarran Auto Body in Sparks, Nev., is owned by Jerry and Julie Wientjes. The 21-bay shop pushes through around 50 cars each month in its collision segment. The shop also does mechanical repairs. T HE RE VIE W ER : Jerry Wientjes has been involved with the industry in one way or another since 1978. In high school, he got a job at a shop so he could paint his 1968 Camaro. In 1978, he got involved with pinstriping and turned that passion into a book on pinstriping, A Guide to a Better Freehand Artist. In 1988, Wientjes moved to California to pursue his passion. After a few years, Wientjes moved to Reno and met his wife, Julie. Julie previously owned McCarran Auto Body and in 1995, the couple bought it back and have run it ever since. Wientjes does product reviews on YouTube and is always looking for innovative and exciting new tools. One night, the Wientjes were watching Graveyard Carz and they saw a man moving vehicles around on a motorized contraption. Wientjes became fixated on it and contacted the show and eventually found out that the product was from Stringo, a Swedish-based company that creates vehicle movers.
HOW IT WORK S : There are different models available from Stringo, but they each move vehicles around and resemble mini-forklifts. Wientjes says his Stringo is just like running a motorized pallet jack. The most appealing feature for Wientjes is the fact that it only requires one person, as opposed to the common forklift or tractor seen in many shops that requires multiple users. The Stringo can be walked or ridden, depending on the situation, and requires very little effort to move. T HE RE VIE W : Wientjes got in contact with Stringo and expressed his interest in owning one as soon as he saw the product featured. Currently, McCarran Auto Body is the only body shop in the U.S. to have one. Wientjes was able to purchase a used Stringo, and the product was shipped from Sweden for a fee of about $600. Stringo’s products are used by many OE manufacturing plants, including Tesla. Wientjes says now that he has a Stringo, there’s no way he would go back to using a tractor or a forklift. The product is ideal for moving severely damaged vehicles without creating further damage and is also great for cars that won’t start on the mechanical side of his shop. McCarran Auto Body uses its Stringo at least once per day.
“The Stringo is able to turn vehicles on a dime,” Wientjes says. “The wheels move in sync and moving it is completely effortless. “ Wientjes adds that the support from the company has been exceptional. “The Stringo that I purchased was designed for low-riders,” Wientjes says. “When I mentioned this to Stringo, they sent a larger set of wheels, free of charge.” T HE ROI : Wientjes says he didn’t purchase the Stringo to bring more jobs in. He purchased it to prevent accidents and create a healthier workplace for his employees. Along with the benefits for the staff, the Stringo has created a more efficient shop. Normally, a stalled car or a severely damaged vehicle would have taken half an hour to move into the shop and more than one technician. With the Stringo, the vehicle is in the shop within five minutes and doesn’t take anyone else away from a job. Wientjes says that because of the time savings, the shop is able to get at least one more job through per week. Depending on the type of job, having the Stringo increases weekly profits by a few hundred dollars, which can quickly add up.
» Interested in knowing the impact of a particular collision repair product in the shop? Send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. CLICK HERE
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Be More Present For a better repair process, Ed Worden says management should be listening to techs
AS TOLD TO TRAVIS BEAN
Ed Worden, a sales representative for in-shop consultant and product provider Kent Automotive, says that most of the time, owners and managers are in their shops, paying for I-CAR training, paying for certifications, paying for vendors like Worden to come by and make sure their techs are up-to-date on tools and trends. But training should go beyond those in-shop sessions. Worden says it must become a team activity, involving both technicians and management. He knows that, when it comes to the effectiveness of training, you have to know what equipment and procedures your technicians should be trained on—and who would know that better than the technicians themselves? That’s why Worden encourages participation from management when he visits shops. That commitment to making training a more unified effort is what drove Gary Boesel, owner of Jordan Road CARSTAR in Centennial, Colo., to write a FenderBender Award nomination for Worden. “It is very common for Ed to approach technicians in the shop and request feedback on products, while suggesting any new products to help with efficiency and or quality,” Boesel says. “His honesty and commitment to the success of his accounts is felt throughout our local collision shop community.” Worden covers what he sees at shops during training, and how management can be more effective following up with employees after classes.
We provide a lot of in-shop classes to train shop staff on equipment and help them better understand what they’re getting out of an I-CAR class. We go a little deeper in a live setting. And we like to make our classes an open forum, allowing everyone to step in, test things out, and ask questions. It’s an open forum on the types of repair procedures. I get a lot of feedback from techs. Technicians really understand the needs and issues facing a shop. A lot of times when technicians go to the owners or shop foremen and explain the issues they’re having or the products they need, owners and shop foremen don’t react properly. It’s not that they don’t trust their technicians’ judgements—I think they do listen to their techs. They’re just concerned with a million different things. And you really need to take the time to engage your techs. I think for management to best understand what they’re up against, the way the industry is going, the way cars are changing, they really need to be speaking with their employees on a regular basis. The techs are very on top of today’s repair procedures. They’re going to know plenty about what needs to happen, what products and materials they need. If the owner wants to get involved with their technicians and really learn what
they need in the back of their shop, I would highly recommend owners sit in on these training classes. That would help them better understand what their techs are faced with regarding today’s repair procedures. A lot of the owners don’t do that. It’s all about education and communication. Listen to the questions your technicians are asking during class. Get a sense of what they’re really concerned about, and let that guide your conversations afterward. Follow up with them after class and gauge how badly they need this training or this equipment or that tool. Have a real discussion with them about return on investment and what your shop will have to do to make the investment worthwhile. A huge part of that is going to be making the time for these conversations. I really think it should be a priority if you want to continue to improve your repair process. If you can’t attend training, make sure someone from management can. Have a sit-down with at least one person after ward, and then bring up topics at your next meeting. Do whatever you can to get feedback, because your technicians really do want to be heard. CLICK HERE » FenderBender Awards Insights feature past FenderBender Award nominees. To nominate an inspiring collision repair professional, or for more information, go to fenderbenderawards.com.
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How to Manage Employee Complaints It’s a given in any business that at some point, employees will have a complaint. But even still, knowing how to deal with those complaints can be a difficult task for many business operators. “Really, the days of the old-fashioned suggestion box are pretty well gone,” says Lori Kleiman, a veteran human resources professional and president of HR Topics, a human resources consulting company that helps small businesses with HR updates, best practices and aligning HR with your business. In smaller shops, Kleiman says, a complaint can be difficult to voice and even if you have a so-called “open-door policy,” that doesn’t guarantee that employees feel comfortable taking advantage of that. Letting those complaints fester, or not doing anything about them, is a breeding ground for a poor culture, however. Kleiman discusses steps for effectively dealing with and resolving employee complaints. AS TOLD TO ANNA ZECK
The first—and most important—aspect of this process is being able to differentiate real systemic employee complaints that require business owner attention versus the squeaky wheel that simply wants you to pay attention to them. That’s a lot of what I see small business people struggling with. First, give thought to the person coming in. If they’re someone who rarely comes in and is asking for some of your time, that is an immediate light bulb moment. On the other hand, if they’re coming in all the time and complaining about everything, it’s like the old story of crying wolf. What I mostly look for right off the bat is: Is this something that matters to our business or is this an employee comfort type of situation? If they’re talking about, say, office furniture or personal matters, you likely want to listen, but it may not be a drop-everything-and-deal-with-it-at-thatmoment type of issue. Next, it’s important to understand that an open-door policy doesn’t mean, “Come in and bother me at your convenience.” An open-door policy can still mean that you have to follow a procedure. That procedure could be that employees have to set an appointment to have a conversation or talk to their supervisor first. You could also set an open-door policy where employees can shoot an email to leadership at any time. However, if it impacts your customers, cost of doing business or ethics, I would make
an exception and drop everything to listen to what this person has to tell you.
Let’s say an employee comes with a valid complaint. The first step is to listen to the employee and show that you’re genuinely concerned and taking it seriously. Next, get multiple inputs. The way one employee feels is not the way everybody might feel. Even when it’s your most trusted employee, still go to other people and just ask, “What do you think about this or that?” If you have managers, bring them in to see if they have the same opinion. The first step should be getting corroborative evidence to make sure that it’s an issue for a lot of people. The next thing is getting other people whom it impacts involved in solving the problem. They’re usually the ones with the best ideas. Just ask them point blank: This issue is not going away, so what are some ways we can make it easier for you? A lot of it is trying not to have all the answers as an executive and instead deferring to employees that might be able to come up with a very easy solution. Finally, it’s very important that you document and follow up with the employee. Even if the answer is, “I gave it some thought and I decided not to act on what you presented,” that’s fine. Ignoring it and not circling back is where employees get very frustrated.
It’s really about making it a full loop so that employees know that when they come to you, a “no” answer is acceptable but no answer is unacceptable.
The process does differ with a squeaky wheel, however. Sometimes you can tell in your gut that they might be right this time, but otherwise, I would do very little with that squeaky wheel. First, push it back on them. Tell them to talk to their manager and coworkers first and see if they can solve the problem for themselves. Weekly department meetings can also be an outlet to voice those problems by ending with the question, “Are there any other things someone wants to talk about?” If that stops working and they keep coming in repeatedly with complaints, then it’s time to sit them down and say, “It’s clear you’re not very happy here. I just can’t have you coming to me every few days with a new complaint. This is how we do business here and if this isn’t somewhere you want to work, let’s be open and honest with each other.” And give yourself permission to actually terminate someone. When you allow the substandard performer to stay on your team, they tend to bring the whole productivity of your team down.
» Give us your ideas about managing complaints by visiting fenderbender.com/ideashop. CLICK HERE
THE BIG IDEA
Transitioning to a Franchise The place of defense, offense and fit in making the decision to join
Last month, I ended my column with a bit
of a cliffhanger: We were on the verge of deciding whether to join CARSTAR. Well, we did it. After months of research, visits, discussions with my board of advisors, prayer and talking it over informally with friends and family, we decided to take the plunge. That puts us squarely in what CARSTAR calls the “immersion phase.” We are starting to interact with all the various departments from branding and marketing, to operations, to fleet sales, to insurance relations. It’s a whole new world learning to navigate a very large company. And, so far, it’s been a lot of fun. Granted, we are in the honeymoon stage, so I’m sure it won’t be all “rainbows and unicorns.” What I wanted to dive into this month was more of the “why” we joined CARSTAR. By way of summary, there were three large reasons: defense, offense and fit. As I was sitting with a new friend at a CARSTAR Discovery Day, I asked, “After hearing all this, what’s your take on it? Do you think it’s a good idea to join?” This new friend has been an industry consultant for some time but not in any way connected to my shops. So, I figured he would have a unique perspective coming from a different market and only having limited knowledge about me and our situation in Cincinnati. He immediately said, “Yes. And if for no other reason than it’s good defense. This industry is in massive consolidation and from what I can tell, consolidation is going to be the norm for many years to come. We have very large competitors entering city after city. Joining CARSTAR is a good defensive strategy because they have the benefits of scale like the other large MSOs—
buying power, insurance relationships, benchmarking between locations.” Now, if I’m reading my new friend correctly, he was clearly implying that without the benefits of scale it would be difficult to compete in the near term. I have to admit, that feedback really resonated with me and my team and, in the end, became a big part of why we decided to join. However, we are more wired for offense, so there had to be other compelling reasons related to growth to capture our attention. As I started to understand the scale of CARSTAR and get introduced to the various departments, I realized there were whole departments dedicated to helping shops in their network grow. Not only that, but my COO and I were very clear from the first call that we were only interested in this partnership if CARSTAR could help us accelerate our growth plans. Turns out, they could—and in ways that are much faster and larger than we expected. For example, we learned about their fleet sales division and their many national fleet accounts looking for partners in local markets. Of course, not all fleet partnerships are created equal; many require a steep discount, which can cut into the profit margin. However, I just acquired a large shop that is underutilized with enough space and technicians to handle almost double the volume it was doing at the time of purchase. Getting a fleet account in
there means we can maximize our capacity while we ramp up the insurance side of the business, which often takes longer. We also learned about CARSTAR’s acquisition team. CARSTAR regularly calls on shop owners all over North America to join their network. After gauging interest, that information is passed on to a team that researches that market and then presents opportunities to local CARSTAR owners who may be interested in expanding. If there are no CARSTARs in that market, it will be floated by investors who may be interested in opening a CARSTAR in that area. If an existing CARSTAR expresses interest, they provide help with things like negotiating, finding funding and templates for key documents. The last deciding factor was fit. A more sophisticated way to say that is “cultural alignment.” Throughout the process, we were guide by a single point of contact, Mark, who helped us get all the information we needed to make a very informed decision. Mark and I hit it off from the start and what I loved about Mark ended up being true top to bottom in CARSTAR: They are an organization that is simultaneously fun, aggressive, caring and focused. Kevin Rains is the owner of Center City Collision in Cincinnati and Precision Frame & Body in West Chester, Ohio. He is also an industry consultant and founder of marketing website Body Shop 2.0. He can be reached at email@example.com. For an archive of his columns, go to fenderbender.com/rains. NOVEMBER 2016
ON THE BUSINESS
Don’t Fear an Autonomous Future Self-driving vehicles are not the industrykiller many make them out to be I get that. And that’s why I’m never surprised by the recurring questions I receive about autonomous vehicles. It’s all we hear about these days in the press: Tesla’s AutoPilot. Google’s self-driving vehicle. No more drivers needed. No more accidents. Ever. It’s that last part that means doom and gloom for us, right? I mean, no more accidents means there is no longer a need for the folks who repair the vehicles that were in those accidents. Our businesses will close. Our industry will crumble. Our … OK, let’s take a deep breathe. Now repeat after me: We will be just fine. Not feeling better yet? Well, let’s talk this out. I get shop operators asking me about autonomous vehicles everywhere I go. Every market in every corner of the country seems concerned about what self-driving cars will mean for our industry. My answer? I think we’re already looking at this all wrong. Let’s start with some background: For many years now, automakers have been tightly focused on reaching the miles-per-gallon benchmarks set in the revisions to the CAFE standards. Achieving 53 mpg has been the focus for years, and that’s where this rapid change in vehicle development originated. Smarter, leaner, more technologically efficient vehicles should lead to better fuel economy across the U.S. fleet. And in this technology race came 30
advanced safety features. We read a lot about self-driving cars, but that’s a very small piece of this puzzle. The media buzz might distract from it, but automakers aren’t trying to eliminate drivers; they’re trying to enhance the driver experience, which includes making each driver safer. A world with no accidents simply isn’t realistic at this point (I’ll get to more on that later); what is realistic is automakers being able to take a 60 mph crash and turn it into a 40 mph crash, or a 40 mph crash into a 20 mph crash. I had a conversation with Toyota recently, and they were kind enough to point out the three biggest causes of accident-related injuries and fatalities: 1. Vehicle-on-vehicle collisions 2. Traffic lane departures 3. Poor night visibility Yes, Toyota has its own widely publicized autonomous driving project, but in my conversations with them, they say their work is based on finding solutions to those three issues outlined above. Adaptive cruise control, advanced braking systems, lane deviation prevention sensors, adaptive headlights—these are the real solutions. Yes, those features lead us down the path to autonomy, but it’s a long path, my friends. For us—for the collision repair industry—all of this doesn’t lead to doom and gloom; it might just be the opposite. But, we will have to shift our own focus. An example: Parking sensors and backup cameras
are now becoming standard and required in new vehicles; this means we’ll have to do a much better job researching OE repair information to know how that affects your work. You might have a simple R&I for a bumper cover, but that bumper cover might house blind-spot sensors that require recalibration. And certain automakers require you to test drive a vehicle for a certain amount of time at a certain speed in order to fully recalibrate a sensor. That’s just one example, but it demonstrates how it changes the way we approach and estimate damage. Technology has changed the way we work—the way we must work to provide a safe and proper repair. Yes, autonomous technology is gearing up, but it has a long, long way to go. OEs aren’t ready to create this world yet, and vehicle owners aren’t ready to participate in it. What will happen, though, is safer, more sophisticated vehicles. Those 60 mph crashes might turn into 40 mph crashes because of it, and that could lead to fewer totals; that’s good news for us. My message for you, my friends, is not to get caught up in the doom and gloom. Don’t be afraid of the future. Mike Anderson, the former owner of Wagonwork Collision Centers in Alexandria, Va., operates CollisionAdvice.com, a training and consulting firm that assists shop operators nationwide. He is also a facilitator for Axalta Coating Systems’ 20 Groups in the U.S. and Canada, and is an Accredited Automotive Manager. Reach Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The unknown can be scary, my friends.
Always keep a strategy in your back pocket. As long as you have your phone, youâ€™ll have access to the premier collision repair podcast from FenderBender. Every month, CollisionCast will bring on a special guest and dive deeper into a featured FenderBender story. Tangents, questions, opinions. These are business-building strategies straight from the source, for any situation.
Thereâ€™s always more to the story. So here it is. Listen for free at fenderbender.com/collisioncast Also available in apps for Apple and Android (Podcasts, Stitcher, Pocket Casts). NOVEMBER 2016
THREE SHOP OPERATORS SHARE THEIR STORIES OF OVERCOMING ADVERSITY AND FINDING UNIQUE SOLUTIONS TO SOME OF THE INDUSTRY'S GREATEST CHALLENGES BY TRAVIS BE AN AND BRYCE E VANS
H ER B'S PAINT & BODY W ENT U P AGAINST TH E LARG EST MSOS— AND WON ALAN KIRKPATRICK'S COM MUNITY MARKETING APPROACH LED THE FAMILYOWNED BUSINESS ON AN ACCELERATED GROWTH PATH IN A CROWDED MARKET
Alan Kirkpatrick pauses before answering. He doesn’t
“What it really comes down to is doing the right thing. If we support [our community], our community will support us. It’s been our philosophy long before I came here. This is a 60-year-old business, and it’s built on that simple idea: Do the right thing.” So, here’s Kirkpatrick’s real answer to the question: The gains, he says, will always be indicative of the effort put in—the results will represent how genuine your business is in pursuing its purpose of helping those in need. This industry isn’t about repairing vehicles, he says, it’s about helping people. Herb’s Paint & Body has become an industry leader in community-focused
Front and Center Alan Kirkpatrick and his marketing team have worked diligently to get the Herb’s brand out in the community.
like the question—or at least, he doesn’t like the way his answer to the question could be interpreted. What are the financial gains of everything he and his team at Herb’s Paint & Body do in its Dallas metro market? The short, factual answer: The gains have been enormous. Since Kirkpatrick first took the helm of the company’s marketing efforts in 1995, Herb’s has more than doubled its number of locations (from three to seven, plus an additional satellite facility). The family-owned MSO will generate more than $40 million in 2016. Each shop operates with a robust double-digit net profit. And each has branded itself so well locally that its customers fail to realize—or admit—that the business could technically be categorized as a chain. But that’s the answer Kirkpatrick doesn’t like. It misses the point, he says. Sure, his department’s work over the last 21 years has helped the company stiff arm its largest competitors in a market that is saturated with Big Four rooftops. All of it has helped the company maintain massive growth year after year, through a recession, through heightened competition, through technological developments in the industry that have caused many to take (at least) a step back before going forward. “That’s not the way we want to look at it, though,” Kirkpatrick says, doing his best to conceal his dismay over this journalist’s focus on the bottom line. “The fact is, you can’t look at it that way if you want to be successful.
Developing a Consistent Brand
marketing initiatives. The gains have been large and tangible. But, Kirkpatrick says, this isn’t about him or his marketing department or the business itself. Any shop in any market, regardless of size and scale, can do the same if they truly believe in what they’re doing.
When operating multiple locations, or even just focusing on multiple marketing campaigns, Alan Kirkpatrick says to focus on consistency. As Herb's Paint & Body's executive vice president of business development, Kirkpatrick oversees the marketing for the company's seven repair facilities and single satellite location. “ You can't have inconsistent messages,” he says. “From your uniforms to logos to look in the shops to messaging in promotions to the promotions you choose, it all has to fall in line together.” For instance, each Herb's location uses the same uniforms, from the tech shirts to the colorcoordinated Nike polos of the front office staff to the button-down dress shirts of the managers and executives. “ The little things make a big difference,” he says. “ You want to portray the image that you're promoting. It has to match up or customers won't trust what they see or hear.”
WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE?
As mentioned, Kirkpatrick joined Herb’s in 1995. The company’s dedication to its community started long before that, though. The original owner, Herb Walne, set the tone when he founded the company in 1956 as a service center operating out of a Humble gas station. Herb not only quickly built an impressive business, but also built a reputation for fair, honest service, and became a leader in the community. He was a Dallas city councilman. He served on the boards of directors for hospitals and the parks service, and instilled a “service” mentality in all who worked for him. That included his son, Alan, and grandson, Robert. Alan Walne, who also at one point was a city councilman, serves as the company’s chairman today; Robert Walne is its acting president and COO. “Herb had passed away before I started here,” Kirkpatrick says, “but I grew up in this area and knew the reputation. I knew that that was what we had to carry on.” Kirkpatrick, the company’s executive vice president of business development, was quickly given reins to the Herb’s marketing machine when he was first hired. He took a simple approach. “Everything just needs to reflect who we are and what we believe in,” he says. “We want to do the right thing to help our community. Our slogan today and our vision says ‘Making Unpleasant Experiences Pleasant Ones.’ That’s what we want to do.” And that’s the foundation for successful marketing, Kirkpatrick says. Marketing can only
HERB’S PAINT & BODY LOCATIONS: 7 IN THE DALLAS METRO SIZE: 14,000-28,000 SQUARE FEET STAFF: 200 AVERAGE MONTHLY CAR COUNT: 1,300 ANNUAL REVENUE: $40 MILLION
be effective if it’s genuine, and the way to ensure it’s genuine is to understand who you are as a company and always pursue initiatives that align with that.
HOW DO YOU GET IT ACROSS?
Overall, Kirkpatrick’s marketing goal is brand awareness. Everyone knows the statistic: The average customer gets in an accident once every seven years. That means two things, Kirkpatrick says. One, your business needs to make every customer experience a great one to ensure the customer remembers you; and two, your business needs to have an impact outside of its facilities to ensure that new customers will think of you at the time of an accident. Name recognition is the key, he adds. There are two simple steps to doing this. 1. CHOOSE THE RIGHT CAUSE. Each of the Herb’s Paint & Body facilities has a general manager who operates with a significant amount of autonomy. “We want them to build their local stores and have them feel like local stores,” Kirkpatrick says. “They have to have the ability to make decisions and do what’s best for their specific markets.” The marketing campaigns ultimately go through Kirkpatrick and one other full-time employee dedicated to marketing at the corporate headquarters. But the focus of each initiative, and identifying the important needs of the community fall on the local operator. “We offer approval and guidance and help with the logistics and financing,” he explains. “But we want projects that they are passionate about and that will impact their local communities. If they believe in it, it’ll succeed.” 2. CARRY OUT THE PROPER CAMPAIGN. One of the company’s most successful community marketing campaigns has come from the Herb’s Frisco location. Its manager wanted to help support local charities and organizations through hosting events. But how could the Frisco shop stand out? What could it do to add its personal touch to each event? “Well, our [manager] there loves barbecue and loves grilling out,” NOVEMBER 2016
HOW THEY DID IT
WHEN IT ALL ADDS UP
Like Kirkpatrick says, Herb’s has always focused on supporting its local communities. But it was about 10 years ago that this became a more focused and processed effort on the part of the company’s marketing team. Since then, the company has created an offshoot website from its company home page that singles out its work in its communities. HerbsCares.com provides an easy-to-find listing of each campaign and also increases the company’s search engine 36
Successful marketing begins and ends with your team, Alan Kirkpatrick of Herb's Paint & Body explains. If you don't have staff that believes in your mission and follows it each day, then your business cannot succeed. There are many ways to turn staff into brand ambassadors, but Kirkpatrick says one of his favorite is employee recognition. Herb's goes to great lengths to recognize and thank employees to let them know their efforts are appreciated. Find the story online at fenderbender.com/herbs to see videos of the Herb's Paint & Body employee recognition events.
Unified Look Every Herb’s location has consistent branding, aesthetics and overall atmosphere—a key to successfully retaining the family-owned vibe across a growing MSO, Alan Kirkpatrick says.
performance. The site also gives the option for customers to request for support for certain local initiatives. “It’s a great way to start that communication process,” Kirkpatrick says. “It gets our good work out there, but it also allows us to connect with what’s important to our customers.” Everything Kirkpatrick has mentioned in this piece doesn’t require a huge budget, facility, or staff. Herb’s uses a marketing budget that is roughly 4–5 percent of its total sales volume; that’s a typical benchmark suggested by many industry consultants. “In our markets, we compete with people with much deeper pockets; we have all of the largest companies right in our markets,” he says. “But we look at it as, if we can capture the heart of the community, they’ll know who supports them in a time of need.” The success of each campaign can be measured in growth—and Herb’s has grown immensely over the years, and is on pace to continue that trend. But, that’s not how Kirkpatrick looks at it. What are the gains that come from what Herb’s Paint & Body does in its Dallas metro market? That’s not the right question, Kirkpatrick says. “I think of it more as, ‘What would happen if we didn’t? What kind of company would that make us? What would that say about how we value our community and our customers?’” he says. “Our company is focused on doing the right thing. And that’s what we’re going to continue to do.”
Kirkpatrick explains. “So, that led to the idea of creating this large barbecue trailer that we can take places and host a cookout.” These aren’t ordinary cookouts, mind you; Kirkpatrick says they normally opt for “higher-end” options. For one event supporting the local child advocacy center, the company grilled steak and chicken for close to 500 people. Kirkpatrick says the tab usually comes out to roughly $10 per attendee. It might sound steep at first, but if even a small fraction of that group winds up as customers some day, the ROI is significant. Another location has supported a local cheerleading team that sells T-shirts each year—10 percent of proceeds goes to a charitable cause; the rest goes to funding the cheerleading program. “That’s another great example: We put our logo on the back of the shirts and donate all of them to the team to sell,” Kirkpatrick says. “It’s usually 5,000 T-shirts each year. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen in the shop that say they always see our names on those T-shirts around town. “There are a lot of examples like that from our shops. Some change it up every so often. Those two examples are year after year. They’re programs that really support our communities but also help us get our name out there connected to some great causes that we believe in.”
MORE ONLINE: Build Brand Ambassadors
G RANT SU NDAY GOT EM PLOYEES INVESTED IN SHOP G ROWTH WHEN CHANGE CREATED BACKLASH, SUNDAY STUCK TO HIS PLAN AND TRANSFORMED DON'S BODY SHOP
Change doesn’t come easy, and Grant Sunday,
owner of Don’s Body Shop in Olathe, Kan., can attest to that: Transforming the modestly performing shop into the $2.8-million business it is today meant losing all 10 of his inherited employees and hiring 13 of his own. Yet, Sunday says it’s been a blessing to slowly build his new staff over the past six years, as he’s been given the opportunity to hire people who buy into his vision for success—and he credits his ability to find great employees to a few key shop changes. “Everyone here is really happy with how we work,” Sunday says of the new staff. “They’re used to the change now, and they’re committed to getting better and better each day.” In his quest to make Don’s Body Shop a more pleasant place to work, Sunday has discovered what employee-focused attributes are necessary for getting new staff members invested in the shop’s future. ORGANIZE THE SCHEDULING PROCESS. The general mood of your shop culture is dictated by the working environment, Sunday says. When he came in, he sought to first fix the chaotic scheduling process, which was causing stress and arguments. Now, each day’s schedule for the entire shop is laid out a daily morning meeting. “It starts with the front office, making time for appointments, drop-offs, scheduling cars,” he says. “We’re fine with losing work if it means not overloading our guys in the back. It’s a necessity for us to plan out our days and weeks, scheduling the drop-off and pick-up date beforehand, and having our back-end
estimator manage jobs and keep them organized and on time.” DON’S BODY SHOP LOCATION: OLATHE, KAN. SIZE: 10,000 SQUARE FEET STAFF: 15 AVERAGE MONTHLY CAR COUNT: 110 ANNUAL REVENUE: $2.8 MILLION
CRAFT AN AESTHETICALLY PLEASING SHOP.
Brown … quite possibly the world’s ugliest color, Sunday says. And—in addition to old bolts and worn-out light bulbs—brown was all over the walls, beams and ceiling of Don’s Body Shop six years ago. Changing that dire look was essential for altering employees’ collective mood, Sunday says. “I created this blueprint of what this shop was going to look like, and it consisted of painting the inside of the shop white and re-lighting it with T8 light bulbs,” he says. UPDATE YOUR EQUIPMENT. For employees to really excel, Sunday felt it was necessary to provide the proper tools. As his first order of business, Sunday bought a new paint booth, upgraded to electronic measuring equipment, and bought a Pro Spot welder for his technicians. GET EVERYONE INVOLVED IN PHIL ANTHROPY.
Perhaps Sunday’s most pivotal addition has been increased community involvement. Whether it’s helping Cub Scouts build pinewood derby cars, restoring vehicles for veterans, hosting firefighter training on shop grounds, or providing internships for students at the Kansas School for the Deaf, Sunday says his staff has embraced representing Don’s Body Shop and giving back to the community whenever possible. “That’s huge, when your people are truly proud of where they work,” he says. “They feel like they’re part of something bigger and really making a difference.” NOVEMBER 2016
HOW THEY DID IT
EU G EN E CORTES B UILT HIS B USIN ESS AROU ND TH E CUSTOM ER TWENTY-FIVE YEARS OF IMPROVING THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE CULMINATES WITH CORTES' NEW MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
If you ask Eugene Cortes about his key to success,
he gives a pretty simple answer: “It all boils down to customer service.” But that’s not just some statement Cortes throws out—he says it with a mix of compassion, sincerity and gravity that comes with 40 years of collision repair experience. Plus, his approach to providing exemplary customer service has been anything but simple. For every decision he’s made since opening Clarkstown International Collision in Nanuet, N.Y., he’s started by putting himself in the customers’ shoes, considering how their experience will be shaped entirely by how attentive he is to their needs. “They’ve just had their beautiful, brand-new car damaged,” he explains. “When you’re on their level and understand how they feel and you show that it’s not just about getting the job in the door, people appreciate that.” Starting with just three employees 24 years ago, Cortes has built Clarkstown International Collision into the current 14,000-squarefoot, $7-million facility by focusing on what he believes are the essentials for improving customer service. Those components were the basis for his newly invented, customerfocused management system program, The Traffic Report, which he has been implementing at his own shop over the past five years. GIVE OFF A PROFESSIONAL APPEARANCE. It might sound simple, but an organized front office goes a long way. Cortes says his shop gives off a very 38
CLARKSTOWN INTERNATIONAL COLLISION LOCATION: NANUET, N.Y. SIZE: 14,000 SQUARE FEET STAFF: 32 AVERAGE MONTHLY CAR COUNT: 200 ANNUAL REVENUE: $7 MILLION
professional vibe with a clean, spacious lobby, comfortable furniture, wall-mounted televisions, updated magazines, certifications on the wall, and a dress code. OFFER CUSTOMER SERVICE TRAINING. Training for front office staff is as essential as training for technicians, Cortes says. In addition to paying for training courses, Cortes will spend time with staff members, going over best practices for putting the customer at ease. SHOW THAT YOU CARE. Saying you care about the customer is one thing—showing you care involves engaging with customers, even when they’re unbelievably stressed. Front office staff is trained to ask questions— “How are you? How are you feeling? Do you need glass of water?—and offer comfort phrases, such as, “Don’t worry about the car—it’s only metal, and that can be replaced.” BUILD CONFIDENCE THROUGH SHOP TOURS. Getting customers to buy into your message isn’t always easy, but Cortes says that by showing them your repair process in a live setting, you can start to inherit their confidence. “When we’re writing an estimate, we give them a tour to show them the process of repairs,” he says. “We tell them, ‘At any time that your car is being repaired and you'd like to come over, we'll be more than glad to show you the car.’” RESPOND TO CUSTOMER SURVEYS. Cortes pays a company to send post-repair surveys to customers, which have provided him crucial insight into Clarkstown’s customer service. “I’m always interested in the negative responses, not the positive ones,” he says. “If I see a negative one, I will call the customer, and they’re usually shocked. They never expect an owner to care that much.”
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F O C U S
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A N D
M A R K E T I N G
Making the Investment David Niestroy’s newest 30,000-square-foot facility will be the second location in the U.S. to host Symach robotic drying equipment. He was sold on the technology after several visits with the company in Italy.
HE MOTOR STARTED TO CHURN, AND DAVID NIES TROY K NE W THIS WAS IT— IN T H I S M O M E N T, H E H A D S U C C E S S F U L LY RE TROFIT TED HIS FATHER’S L AWN MOWER TO POWER HIS VERY FIRST P A I N T B O O T H .” N o t b a d — e s p e c i a l l y f o r a 10 - y e a r - o l d . “A n y o n e c a n d o a n y t h i n g i f t h e y p u t t h e i r m i n d s t o i t ,” N i e s t r o y s a y s . “ T h a t ’s m y f i r m b e l i e f .” This small feat performed in his parents’ garage almost 40 years ago was just the first of many accomplishments to c o m e i n N i e s t r o y ’s c a r e e r, w h i c h i n c l u d e d founding 3D Auto Body & Collision Center i n 19 81 a n d e v e n t u a l l y e x p a n d i n g i t t o seven locations in the Philadelphia area. That expansion is now culminating with his l a t e s t f a c i l i t y i n C o n s h o h o c k e n , PA . , w h i c h w i l l h o s t g a s c a t a l y t i c d r y i n g t e c h n o l o g y, considered by many to be the future of c o l l i s i o n r e p a i r. Growing his network of shops employing 86 people repairing 500 v e h i c l e s p e r m o n t h a n d g e n e r a t i n g $ 16 m i l l i o n i n a n n u a l r e v e n u e a c r o s s five locations has largely been based around his willingness to invest in n e w t e c h n o l o g y, h e s a y s . W h i l e f o r m a n y b u s i n e s s o w n e r s t h e i n v e s t m e n t robotic dr ying systems requires (it was close to $1 million for Niestroy) is too daunting, Niestroy almost sees it as a challenge. “ W e c o n s t a n t l y r e i n v e s t ,” h e s a y s . “ I t ’s o n l y g o o d f o r t h r e e t o f i v e years, and then something bet ter comes out. We keep on moving with t h a t t e c h n o l o g y .” I t ’s t h a t “ b u i l d i t a n d t h e y w i l l c o m e ” m e n t a l i t y t h a t has fueled Niestroy from those early days in his parents’ garage to his current financial success. And while many of t h e p r o c e s s - o r i e n t e d b e n e f i t s a r e c l e a r f r o m 3 D A u t o B o d y ’s Back in 1981, when the very first 3D K P I s ( 7. 5 - d a y c y c l e t i m e s a n d 5 - h o u r t o u c h t i m e s) , h e ’s r e a l Auto Body location was in its early izing one return on his investment he didn’t foresee —buy-in. stages, Niestroy bought a fax machine From his team to insurance companies to customers, investfor $1,200. ing in technology isn’t just a mindset, it has become the You might be thinking, “So what?” b u s i n e s s ’s o f f i c i a l b r a n d : I f y o u w a n t t h e l a t e s t a n d g r e a t e s t But back then, when Niestroy says equipment and repair techniques used on your vehicle, come very few dealerships and vendors had t o 3 D A u t o B o d y. fax machines, the response was more
like, “Why would you buy that?” “I thought, ‘What a great way to transfer information. Instead of saying a part number over the phone, this makes way more sense,’” Niestroy says. From downdraft paint booths to plastic welding equipment to aluminum repair training to gas catalytic drying, remaining ahead of the curve wasn’t just some gimmick for Niestroy. It just … made sense. And it has separated 3D from the competition. 42
Ahead of the Curve David Niestroy has always prided himself on running technologically advanced shops, which is why he invested in gas catalytic drying systems for his new location.
“Being out in front of technology, we aren’t going to be one of the shops that watches somebody else become successful doing it and then tries to play catch-up,” says Craig Camacho, 3D’s vice president of marketing and business development. “It changes the way things are done, and the shops in the area are going to feel the effect.” Budgeting for technological upgrades and the subsequent training required is a yearly focus for Niestroy and his management team, and it has slowly bled into every component of the business.
THE RETURN: TEAMMATES
Don’t even think about calling them “employees” or “staff members.” “We don’t have employees—we have teammates and colleagues,” Niestroy says.
Niestroy has never been worried when opening a new location, including his new 30,000-square-foot, 26-bay facility equipped with robotic drying capabilities, for two reasons: First, he’s got a pool of candidates itching to work at 3D Auto Body; and second, he’s got a pool of teammates eager to transfer facilities and fill one of the shop’s open 20 technician positions. And both reasons are fueled by one fact: They all want to use the latest and greatest equipment. “You really cannot underestimate how much technicians want the newest stuff,” Niestroy says. “Technicians are some of the smartest people I’ve met, and they crave anything that will make them faster and better at their jobs.” Having multiple facilities has presented Niestroy with a unique opportunity when it comes to investing
3D AUTO BODY LOCATION: 7 FACILITIES NEAR PHILADELPHIA STAFF: 86 AVERAGE MONTHLY CAR COUNT: 500 ANNUAL REVENUE: $16 MILLION *NUMBERS DO NOT INCLUDE TWO NEWEST FACILITIES
in equipment. He will test new tools, such as plastic welders, at one facility, and if he sees a significant return on investment, he will begin to populate the equipment at other facilities. Expecting that established trend to continue, technicians at other shops are informed of improving numbers at the test facility and are primed for upgrades that will allow them to be more efficient. Because everyone operates on a team-based flat-rate system and receives bonuses by meeting certain NOVEMBER 2016
THE REAL RETURN
KPI benchmarks, technicians are committed to any equipment that can improve the process and increase the amount of work they can push through as a team—and if moving to the new gas catalytic drying facility will do that? Then you can bet employees are willing to make the move.
THE RETURN: INSURANCE
With DRPs accounting for 88 percent of 3D Auto Body’s immense workload, it’s clear how much the business’s new 30,000-square-foot facility means to the shop’s insurance partners. “The idea is to make [the insurance companies] look great by giving them the numbers they want,” Camacho says. “That way, you’re going to end up with the lion’s share of the work.” That’s been the mentality since day one, as Niestroy has always relied on his DRP relationships when providing a steady flow of work to new facilities when they open. By closely tracking his shops’ KPIs and how they improve as he invests in equipment upgrades, he’s always been able to market his shop as a standout in the Philadelphia area to insurance companies. So once he considered how it could improve DRP relations, the new facility became a no-brainer for Niestroy. “If I can fix these cars in days or hours as opposed to weeks, I don’t see how insurance companies can turn their heads on it. The better they look, the more they get paid.” he says. “I believe in the technology, and I believe in the way that it works so strongly that I’m willing to take that risk.”
THE RETURN: CUSTOMERS
If you visit 3D Auto Body’s website, before you can click on a link or even peruse the home page, a window pops up, providing two links to press releases detailing the shop’s sixth and seventh locations located in Drexel Hill and Conshohocken, Penn. Armed with standout numbers (30,000 square feet; 26 bays; sixth location), 3-D renderings of the facility’s interior and exterior, and even a little bit of information about gas catalytic 44
Building a Team David Niestroy credits much of his success to his employees, or as he calls them, “teammates.” He says investing in new equipment on the cutting edge has created significant buy-in among staff.
drying, these press releases embody Camacho’s approach as a marketer: Get in front of the public, flaunt your commitment to technology, and show why you’re better than everyone else. And then, just … stop. Because that’s all you need to get them hooked. “The first step is to make it public. Then, if they want to know more, you can worry about the arduous task taking them step by step through the technology,” he says. “You don’t want to show them how—you want to show them what it’s going to do for them. You want to market the shop itself and how it’s going to change the game for the customer.” Camacho posted about the new shop back in May 2016, and has slowly released information, photos and updates on the facility through social media and the shop’s blog, giving the new facility a continuous story until its grand opening. Using keywords regarding the shop’s technological upgrades on both the website and through Google AdWords has improved SEO and helped build the shop’s reputation as a trendsetter in the industry and a reliable local company.
While Niestroy certainly believes he could stop right where he’s at and undoubtedly stay technologically ahead of other shops in his area, that’s simply not his style. That’s why, even after establishing his robotic gas drying facility, he and his management team will continue to look for new ways of innovating and expanding their position as a leader in the industry. And part of being a leader involves ensuring the next wave of technicians: In addition to his own employees, Niestroy has cultivated a constant stream of job candidates by marketing his dedication to updating the company’s tools and equipment and by hosting mock interviews and job-shadowing sessions for area technical college and high school students. “These kids have no idea what they can do in this industry until you show them,” Niestroy says. “They don’t know they can be making six figures. They don’t know the technical expertise required. If we’re dedicated to showing them the possibilities of this industry, they’ll want to be part of it.”
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“I like everything to be organized and clean, across the board.” AS TOLD TO TRAVIS BE AN PHOTOGRAPHY BY RICKY RHODES
PARTS MANAGER SCHADE’S AUTO BODY
An Eye for Detail Kerrie Kolus’ focus on organization has raised paint and materials profits and lowered comebacks at the shop where she acts as parts manager.
constant scramble— that’s how Sarah Eisenmann describes it. Day in and day out, Schade’s Auto Body struggled with the ordering, organizing and checking in of parts, creating delays that infected the entire repair process and made coming to work stressful for everyone in the shop. That was until she hired Kerrie Kolus. As general manager, Eisenmann credits the elimination of stress around the Brunswick, Ohio, shop mostly to Kolus’ detailoriented and streamlined parts process, which has not only improved overall communication at the shop, but virtually eliminated the stress that once plagued the shop. On top of all that? Kolus, parts manager for Schade’s, has raised paint and materials profits, greatly lowered the number of comebacks and supplements, and helped bring in thousands of dollars worth of parts credits through her diligent communication with vendors. All of this has been accomplished, she says, through an intense focus on details, note taking and constant communication that keeps the entire shop informed at all points of the day.
I think before, our system created a lot of supplements and delays and comebacks. It’s been a complete team effort to change that, and I have my part in that process. I take notes on ever ything. I keep ever y email that’s sent out or comes in to me from any vendor or anything like that, and I organize those emails into separate folders for vendors. For me personally, I need to make sure ever ything is being done the way I want it to be done, because I do take my job extremely seriously and I love working here. I LIKE EVERY THING TO BE ORGANIZED AND CLEAN, ACROSS THE BOARD.
EVERY MORNING WHEN I COME IN TO WORK , I CHECK OUT OUR PAINT- AND -
and make an order right away so we can get it in a timely manner first thing in the morning. We’re using a brand new paint system, so right now I’m transitioning into making that system computer-based. For now, I just consult our list of vehicles that need to be MATERIALS INVENTORY
painted that day, and then I pick up the cans and see if those colors need a refill and order accordingly. For our more popular colors, I like to order back-ups. I’ll check all our materials, like our sandpaper, to make sure we’re at our designated amount, which we determined by tracking our monthly usage of materials. We like to keep everything stocked at a certain number, that way we’re never scrambling for an order. We get it out of the way, right away, every day. I’m sure to mark every detail down, so that way I have a good idea of our inventory heading in there each morning.
WE TRY EXTREMELY HARD FOR EVERYBODY TO BE ON THE
From ever yone in the office to parts to the ser vice manager to all of the technicians and the painters. We really strive for ever yone to be on the same page and for ever yone to know what’s going on, just so ever ything runs smoothly. While there is a lot of verbal confirmation, a big part of that has been writing everything down. It becomes an assurance for what you talked about, and it becomes a reminder it needs to get done. We have a ser vice manager with whom I keep in constant contact throughout the SAME PAGE HERE .
entire day. Once the car comes into the shop, he, the technician, the ser vice writer and the painter will go over the car. Once the technician does a thorough teardown and checks ever ything, he gets with the ser vice writer and tells them what parts are needed. After I check inventor y, then I go to the office and see if any new estimates have been written. I set up a little message area, so if there are any new estimates, they would be in my estimates bin. I touch base with the estimator, see if there’s anything new that’s coming in, or that they need to have ordered, NOVEMBER 2016
Open Communication As part of her daily routine, Kerrie Kolus checks in with technicians and painters to make sure nothing gets lost in the shuffle of the day to day.
so that way we’re all on the same page. If any new vehicles have been dropped off or towed in if it’s a heav y collision, I go out there right away and discuss what we need. IF THERE ARE ANY NE W ESTIMATES, I’LL GO OUT TO TO MY DESIGNATED ARE A AND ORDER THE PARTS.
We generally deal with three companies, so I will call and get quote numbers from them. Usually we order through the LKQ Corporation, but we’ll go factor y if nothing is available. I’m looking for the best possible price, but more importantly we like to deal with who gives us the best warranty. Even if a company has a better price, we like to guarantee we’re ordering the best possible parts because that saves us time and money in the long run. We like to stand behind our work, and they need to be able to stand behind their parts. ONCE THE DRIVER COMES AND DROPS OFF THE PARTS, I GO THROUGH EVERY SINGLE INVOICE AND MATCH EVERY
If something comes up where I get a part shorted or the part number is not correct, I’ll call them and they’ll advise me if either a part has been updated with a new part number, or if the wrong part got pulled. I’m also sure to keep track of all the credits. Any invoices that have multiple parts on it, I make a duplicate copy so that way it stays with me, and the original copy will stay SINGLE PART NUMBER TO THAT INVOICE.
SCHADE’S AUTO BODY LOCATION: BRUNSWICK, OHIO SIZE: 19,000 SQUARE FEET STAFF: 18 AVERAGE MONTHLY CAR COUNT: 140
with the file in the office. That way I can keep track of ever ything that does need to be credited back to our account. I generally like to go through that once in the morning and once in the afternoon to see what we’re still waiting on. I’ll call the dealership or the vendor and tell them the credits that need to be sent over, or I’ll send them a fax or an email if there are multiple credits we’re waiting on. They will respond pretty quickly because I’ve made a habit of hounding them if they don’t. I’M ALSO FOLLOWING UP WITH THE STAFF THROUGHOUT
I review estimates with the service writers and the production manager several times a day to see if there are supplemental parts needed or to inform them when a particular part has arrived. I’m also checking in with our techs and painters throughout the day. There’s no set time I go out and check with them. They’ll either come to me or if I’m walking by and notice something, I’ll ask them if they need anything else. Sometimes their needs get lost in the shuffle, so following up a few times a day helps. As long as the service writers are not too busy with the customers, we go over everything at the end of the day, as well, to make sure everybody is on the same page and what parts are coming in the following morning and make sure everything is in order. THE DAY.
15 Business-Building Sessions from Collision Repair Leaders
SESSIONS AVAILABLE Lean Theory and Real-World Implementation | Choice, Chance, Change: Practicing the Three C’s to Grow Your Collision Repair Business | Get Paid: How to Improve Negotiations with Insurers | The New DRP: Using OE Certifications to Drive Business | Developing an Apprenticeship Program to Grow Talent | What’s Your WIP? Why Work in Progress is a Key Metric for Modern Shops | Know Where to Grow: Using KPIs to Drive Improvement | Marketing is Everything: An Advanced Approach to Building a Better Brand | Using Diagnostics to Boost Repair Accuracy, Speed and Profitability | How to Maintain a Double-Digit Net Profit Margin | The Shop of Tomorrow: Technology’s Front-to-Back Impact on the Collision Repair Process | Leadership Lessons that Drive Business Growth | Surefire Strategies for Hiring and Retaining Quality Staff | Social Media Marketing that Works | It’s All About the People: How the Right Shop Culture Ensures Success
WATCH FULL-LENGTH VIDEOS OF EVERY SESSION FROM THE 2016 FENDERBENDER MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE
fbmc2016.fenderbenderconference.com NOVEMBER 2016
“I’m not used to working with companies internationally.” Bob Gottfred, owner, ErieLaSalle Body Shop — PAGE 58—
MAKE MONEY // SAVE MONEY // WORK SMARTER
The Devil in the Details How to get the most return on your detail department
Consider all the changes to the colli-
sion repair process over the past 10 years: From new materials to new repair procedures to the rise of OEM certifications and training, it’s a completely different landscape than it was even a few years ago, says Lee Rush, manager of business consulting services at Sherwin-Williams. Now, consider the changes in the detail department. Can you think of any, he asks? While companies have innovated 52
and improved their detail products, the core processes and procedures have remained largely the same. And that’s a problem. “I wouldn’t say [detail] is ignored but it’s certainly the one we spend the least amount of time and technology in,” Rush says. “We take it for granted. It takes a team to restore crashworthiness to the vehicle and an important part of that, especially to the consumer, is the fit, function and
finish. The consumer sees the finish. They see the fit and the function of components and windows and mirrors, but they really see the finish. Very few consumers look under the hood and say, ‘I’m not sure about that rail sectioning repair.’ But they do see that final finish.” All of your team’s hard work could be completely negated by a poor detail, he says, and that’s why it’s so important to maximize that department and
BY ANNA ZECK
its myriad opportunities. Rush outlines the top four keys to getting the most out of your detail department.
1. Establish a quality assurance process. Typically, the detail department is the last stage of the repair process, so as the last hands to touch the vehicle before the final quality control and test drive, Rush says it’s an opportune time for a quality assurance process. “There is an opportunity there to develop and improve the training for the people in that department so they are truly the last line of quality assurance inside of production,” he says. “Think of it as a last line of defense, the quality assurance technician or detailer performing that final inspection. They’re capable. They probably have a desire.” The benefit to doing this, Lee says, is that you reduce the number of mistakes caught only when the vehicle is brought out for the final QC and test drive. The final inspection doesn’t have to be incredibly in-depth either, he says. Instead, it should look at fit, function and finish; at that point, things like structural integrity and weld integrity should be established, so this inspection should ensure the functionality of those components, overall cleanliness of the vehicle and cosmetic appearance, and that the panel adjacent to your work is acceptable. “It’s not a high level of technology,” he says. “I’m expecting them to ensure the customer has a completely functioning vehicle.”
2. Try to pre-detail as much as possible. Another common occurrence in most detail departments, Rush says, is that the volume of work is virtually nonexistent in the morning—and then flooded from 3-5 p.m. when vehicles are ready for delivery. “Ten technicians will deliver their reassembled vehicles to the detail department in the afternoon,” he says. “It’s a mad house back there.”
Instead, the goal should be to spread out that workload, ideally so one car is delivered to detail every 30 minutes to an hour. In addition, Rush says that shops should be looking for opportunities to perform the detail at the beginning of the repair process. During damage analysis and blueprint, he says to look to vehicles that could easily be detailed before the repair or while waiting on parts. You’ll be surprised how many vehicles qualify for this, specifically express repairs or front-end hits. At the very least, he says, it should almost always be possible to clean out the interior of the vehicle and remove trash, vacuum, clean the interior glass or do a heavy clean on the wheels. For a heavy hit, it’s a good idea to remove the heavy debris ahead of time that requires more attention to remove. “That’s not going to impede the repair,” he says. “The question is, how much of the interior of the vehicle can I pre-clean to reduce the amount of detail time at the end of the repair?” That way, when it reaches detail, only a light wash, rinse and shammy is required, versus the full process.
3. Take advantage of up-selling opportunities. The detailing department should also be an easy opportunity to create an additional profit center, Rush says. While the process is conversationally called a “detail,” in reality, the process is mainly a “wash and vac” versus a $100-plus true detail, Rush says. That creates an opportunity to not only set customer expectations, but also create up-selling opportunities with menubased pricing. “A lot of times, [customers] are like, ‘I’ve had this accident, I’ve had these repairs, I might as well get the car detailed,’” he says. Rush recommends setting different tiers. For example: A $29.95 detail that includes a complete interior spot clean, a steam clean of the floor mats, and a spot clean of the seats; a $49.95 detail that includes an additional exterior orbital polish and
sealant; and a $129.95 that includes all the previously mentioned items as well as a deep clean of the engine and trunk compartments. The trick with pricing, he says, is that customers need to feel they received what they paid for. You need to explain the features and benefits of the detail, so that a customer does not expect more than what the $29.95 detail entails. The menu-based pricing also allows you to set expectations of what the customer should expect from your shop’s free detail. One helpful tool for selling those details, Rush says, is using visual tools, such as a headlight that’s half cleaned.
4. Create career paths for detailers. For many shops, the detail department is notorious for high turnover. Very few people aspire to be detailers for their whole careers, Rush says, which is why you need to pay special attention to the career paths of your detailers. Detailing isn’t a particularly technical job, so it’s more important than ever to hire for attitude and motivation in this department, versus skill level, he says. “The hope is they would come in and they would develop into something like damage analysis,” Rush says. “I want to hire the best people and move them forward in my business. If you start hiring like that, you’re going to get a higher quality of detail and detail product out of those employees.” If you identify detailers that could potentially become long-term employees, Rush recommends allowing them to spend time in other departments during slow periods. For example, have them assist the parts manager and outline all the functions you would like to see them perform. “He or she is then developing parts skills that one day we might say, ‘Let’s make them a parts coordinator,’” he says. “If they have technical skills, often we use them to disassemble vehicles. That’s a possibility to move employees forward.” NOVEMBER 2016
Jim Keller’s Six Secrets for Becoming a Great Leader The 1Collision Network president details his essentials for effective leadership BY TRAVIS BEAN
You don’t achieve what Jim Keller has
accomplished by accident—it’s all about your ability to lead, he says. Keller’s leadership skills have taken him far in the collision repair industry, which he has dedicated himself to for 35 years. Since opening his own shop back in 1981, Keller has gone on to become a multi-shop operator, serve
as chairman of the Automotive Service Association and state chairman for the Wisconsin I-CAR committee, and start the Midwest-based 21-shop 1Collision Network. But Keller wasn’t always a great leader—in fact, as he’ll tell you, at one time, he had no idea how to lead a team to success.
“I didn’t have any concept of how to connect with others,” he says. “It’s something you need to learn and practice over time.” After attending Dale Carnegie Training—widely considered the country’s best source for leadership training—he started to make his transition. And now as president of NOVEMBER 2016
1Collision Network, Keller shares what allows him to effectively motivate and lead hundreds of employees to success.
1. Invite others to come along with your vision. “Where does it all start when you’re a leader?” That’s the question Keller wants you to ask yourself. Before you buy a building, hire employees and open your doors for business, where does it all begin? It begins, of course, with a vision for your business: where you want to go, what you want to accomplish, who you want to help. Tell others about your vision and get them motivated to help carry it out. “Without a plan, nobody will follow you,” he says. “When you have a vision, that becomes a plan, and then you focus on creating awareness for that plan. All of a sudden, people start seeing it and are interested in following along.” Finding your vision is key: Keller says to think about what you really want to accomplish in this business, brainstorm with family and friends, and find what really drives you. Then find ways of keeping your vision ubiquitous: Print out your motto and post it in your shop; write down ideas for carrying out your vision wherever you are; let your vision guide conversations with staff. “Just keep it in front of you as a constant reminder of where you’re at,” he says.
2. Have the courage to carry out your ideas. When Keller mentions the word “courage,” he thinks of his close friend, Lirel Holt, founder of CARSTAR—a franchise with over 240 shops in the U.S. “When he was building and growing that business, he felt like a lone ranger,” Keller says. “People would look at him funny and ask, ‘Why would anyone want a body shop franchise?’ Nobody was doing what he 56
was doing, but he didn’t back down. “When a great idea comes, not everyone will embrace it right away. You have to be confident in what you’re doing. If you exude confidence and you are unwavering with your vision, people will feel more comfortable with it.” Keller says to share your ideas with staff—whether it’s through daily meetings, by visiting the shop floor or by posting your vision around the shop—and gauge their devotion to helping you carry it out. Be adamant about your vision, and surround yourself with employees that believe in it. If they aren’t buying in, they might not be beneficial to your business in the long run.
3. Create a collaborative environment. While you should remain confident in your ideas, Keller says an effective leader should acknowledge when ideas aren’t producing the intended results. “When things aren’t going the direction you wanted, as a good leader, you should shift gears. If you can’t fix it, have someone else take a look at it,” he says. “Then reevaluate your plan and tweak it to get the ship back on course.” Until it’s clear your idea isn’t working and it’s costing you money, give it plenty of time to flesh out and take shape. Keep your staff updated on any shop changes, and include them in brainstorming sessions when you need guidance. Being vulnerable isn’t seen as a sign of weakness, but instead inclusiveness. Soon enough, that spirit of collaboration will infect the entire shop, Keller says. “Before they come to you, they should be collaborating with others,” he says. “Have them take some ownership, not stop at first roadblock, find solutions and remain committed to getting car fixed.”
4. Be transparent, be honest, and have integrity. If you want people to follow you, Keller says you have to have cred-
PRACTICE YOUR HUMAN RELATIONS SKILLS Above all else, Jim Keller credits his effectiveness as a leader to Dale Carnegie Training. Throughout the course, students learn 30 different principles that build human relations skills—here are Keller’s eight favorites: 1. DON’T CRITICIZE, CONDEMN OR COMPLAIN— FIND SOLUTIONS. 2. GIVE HONEST, SINCERE APPRECIATION TO YOUR STAFF. 3. BE GENUINELY INTERESTED IN OTHER PEOPLE. 4. ALWAYS WEAR A SMILE. 5. BE A GOOD LISTENER, AND ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO TALK ABOUT THEMSELVES. 6. TALK IN TERMS OF THE OTHER PERSON’S INTERESTS. 7. THE ONLY WAY TO GET THE BEST OF AN ARGUMENT IS TO AVOID IT. 8. NEVER SAY, “YOU’RE WRONG.”
ibility—and you can’t achieve that without being wholly and completely honest 100 percent of the time. “The minute you’re not transparent or honest, then nobody can ever know to believe you or not,” he says. “Even if it’s something you’re not proud of telling people, if it’s the truth, if it’s honest, then you have to be transparent. People will appreciate that and respect you for it.” If you want your shop’s work and customer service to embody honesty and integrity, it starts with you setting an example. Keep this in mind whenever leading meetings or conversing with employees. Eventually, they’ll follow suit. “Be respectful and real, and not quirky, goofy or phony,” he says. “Being real commands a level of respect.”
5. Show passion for your work. How does famous motivational speaker
Tony Robbins motivate people to pay thousands of dollars to fly to Hawaii and walk across hot coals? “Because he knows how to instill that passion in others,” Keller says. “Passion is contagious. And when you’re a passionate leader, you will inspire others to be passionate about whatever vision you’re always working towards. Inspiration and passion go hand in hand.” Keller says even during your lowest moments, when external factors outside the shop are affecting your mood, you have to remain enthusiastic about your business—even if you have to talk yourself into it. “If I want them to buy into something, it’s the only way it’s going to happen,” he says. “Even if you’re not feeling it, you have to make your staff feel it. Talk yourself up before walking into a room and put a smile on your face. Lead by example.”
6. Hold your employees accountable. When Keller opens a new 1Collision Network shop, he doesn’t have to worry about employees being confused about their roles—every facet of every position is laid out to a tee through SOPs, keeping everyone accountable for their work. That way, people know what’s expected of them, Keller says. If you entrust them with their role, they will own those duties. But if someone isn’t living up to their job title, then it’s your job, as a leader, to find out what’s holding them back and help them work through it. “When a good leader puts accountability on people, an employee doesn’t have an excuse,” Keller says. “You’ve got to say to them, ‘Your job description says this and this. What is preventing you from getting that done? How can I help you? What we do we need to do for you to get this done every time? Are you forgetting to do this? Do you need coaching there? Help me understand why these things you’re supposed to be doing aren’t happening.’”
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BOB GOT TFRED EMBODIES CH A NGE A ND A DA P TATION WITH HIS NE W TECHNOLOGICA L BE ACON IN CHICAGO
BY TRAVIS BE AN PHOTOGRAPHY BY MIKE WHEALAN
AS THE FIRE RIPPED THROUGH THE CITY, DESTROYING MILES OF BUSINESSES AND LEAVING THOUSANDS UPON THOUSANDS HOMELESS, ONE BRICK WALL WOULD REMAIN STANDING. Ivan Goodmonson, a Norwegian
immigrant who had spent years accruing funds on an Iowa farm, took that wall in 1934 and built a legacy around it, unaware of the fact that it had, indeed, survived the Great Chicago Fire just 63 years earlier. Erie-LaSalle Body Shop was—and to this day remains—one of the only collision repair shops in downtown Chicago. And since opening on Erie Street 82 years ago, nothing has come easy for the tiny brick building, which has always found itself strapped for space. But within those 8,900 square feet, Bob Gottfred, current owner of ErieLaSalle and stepson of Goodmonson, has produced remarkable results since taking over in 1976: Fifteen technicians share the 4,000-square-foot repair floor to crank out 250 cars per month; the front office manages 25 DRP relationships; they opened two additional locations in downtown Chicago; and, overall, the staff of 38 employees pulls in $5 million per year. From the “old Chicago brick” that Gottfred boasts about to the charred basement ceiling beams that remain from the Great Chicago Fire, the aged building has come to symbolize Erie-LaSalle’s stability, its resilience, its ability to continually produce despite its handicap. But as successful as he’s been in that building, Gottfred is addicted to updating processes and readying his team for the next step—the future of the industry. Just as he’s persevered through the inherent limitations his original location presented, Gottfred proved there are no limits to his oldschool shop’s ability to adapt as he navigated through a strenuous eightmonth process with an international company, outfitting a 12,000-squarefoot location that will house Symach’s first FixLine repair process and gas-catalytic drying technology in the United States.
When Gottfred took the business over from his stepfather 40 years ago, ErieLaSalle resembled most collision repair facilities at the time: handwritten estimates, lacquer-based paint, no computers. The shop’s gradual growth in the following decades signifies Gottfred’s craving to evolve and remain in-step with the latest innovations. “While at this shop, we saw automobiles morph from full frames into the unibody,” he says. “It became a whole different mindset of how to fix cars. 60
Then computers came along. And then the downdraft spray booths. “I like to say I pioneered some of this stuff, because I was always one of the first ones to implement it. As technology has [progressed], we’ve embraced electronic measuring and downdraft prep stations and heated stations.” The next step for his pioneering is Symach: an Italian company he connected with two years ago at the NACE/CARS Expo & Conference. Since then, Gottfred and Symach CEO Osvaldo Bergaglio have communicated
back and forth, working out a timeline for establishing the first FixLine system in the country.
The Symach process (featured in FenderBender in February 2015) is designed to reduce vehicle movement and maximize throughput. It involves a very specific layout filled with the Symach equipment, including its gas-catalytic drying technology. The company claims the system (which has been implemented in several European shops) pushes out single-panel repairs in half a day, standard repairs in 1.5 days, and cuts delivery times on large repairs by 50 percent. The FixLine formula involves specific layouts and equipment. Implementation requires either a full facility remodel or—as in Gottfred’s case—an empty building ready for design. After $1 million of investments and eight different revisions of
E XPERT ADVICE
Getting The Most From Your Bake
Eliminating Constraints The Symach FixLine system, installed at ErieLaSalle’s second downtown location, includes both gas-catalytic drying technology and specific layouts designated by the company.
blueprinting, equipment was installed over the course of July through October, which included four weeks of staff training (for both technicians and management).
[ S H O P S TAT S ]
While he now refers to it as a “throwout date,” Gottfred and Symach had originally planned on opening the new facility in March. With this being the first Symach operation in the U.S., the blueprinting of the new facility and equipment
shipment scheduling went through some growing pains. Bergaglio says the main issue was a difference between U.S. and Italian measurements and designs, which meant converting measurements that differ between the two countries. “There’s no one party to blame. We both underestimated the scope of what had to be done to this warehouse on the electrical end and the gas end,” Gottfred says. Communication between Gottfred’s and Bergaglio’s respective staffs was
Tim Beal, owner of Beal’s Auto Body and Paint in Prescott, Ariz., set up a robotic paint drying system in his shop just under two years ago. When operating at full capacity, the equipment allowed Beal’s Auto Body to complete 13 repair orders in seven hours and achieve a record sales month of $320,000. A huge part of that was tinkering with the system and understanding what practices created a bake that resulted in a perfect finish. We experimented a lot with our drying equipment, and we discovered it allowed us to bake the primer at the same rate at which you’d spray the primer on. We called several plastic manufacturers, talked to their reps, and found out as long as you keep that Bondo to 160 degrees, it’s cured. Once you hit the primer with that heater, it’s long-wave infrared. It’s a catalyst. You heat it up to 250 degrees, it introduces the natural gas and it creates a catalyst, and that catalyst puts off a long wave infrared light. And that light is what works the surface molecules on the substrate that you’ve just sprayed to get them to catalyze and lock up and harden. So as long as you put the heat to the Bondo, you’re good. When you put it in the booth and spray the sealer, bake it, base coat it, bake it, clear coat it, bake it—it’s perfect. No pinch, no shrink. It comes out just unbelievably nice. And you’re done. If you need to polish something 30 minutes later, you can.
ERIE-LASALLE BODY SHOP—DOWNTOWN
ERIE-LASALLE BODY SHOP— SOUTH SIDE
ERIE-LASALLE BODY SHOP— DOWNTOWN II
LOCATION: CHICAGO SIZE: 8,900 SQUARE FEET STAFF: 38 AVERAGE MONTHLY CAR COUNT: 250 ANNUAL REVENUE: $5 MILLION
LOCATION: CHICAGO SIZE: 15,000 SQUARE FEET STAFF: 15 AVERAGE MONTHLY CAR COUNT: 100 ANNUAL REVENUE: $2 MILLION
LOCATION: CHICAGO SIZE: 12,000 SQUARE FEET PROJECTED STAFF: 25 PROJECTED ANNUAL REVENUE: $5 MILLION
essential for certain conversions and dilemmas, but was made more difficult because of the distance. For example, some of Symach’s equipment required 480 volts of electricity, but the facility could only secure 240 volts. And because the design and layout has to be to Symach’s standards, Gottfred had to ensure gas, water and electricity ran to exact points on the wall. “I’m not used to working with companies internationally. This particular situation was new for both parties,” he says. “It just takes a lot more time, effort and people. The scope seems to keep increasing and increasing with everything we have to do. It’s a learning experience.”
Gottfred hired a project manager to keep tabs on the construction and received daily updates while managing the original location. He met on Fridays 62
with his project manager and a team, which included his son (manager of the business’s second location), an architect, a team of mechanical engineers and two electricians. The team worked together to coordinate the various building requirements, communicating any utility or permit issues with Symach. For instance, when Erie-LaSalle discovered the facility couldn’t achieve 480 volts, Symach
designed a special motor that would allow the gas-catalytic drying technology to run properly. Gottfred’s architect and engineers also coordinated to install new gas lines through the walls so the equipment could be set up according to the blueprints.
While the new building was scheduled
The Story Continues Online Head to fenderbender.com/erie -lasalle to view a photo galler y of Erie-LaSalle Body Shop’s new facilit y. Also, read Gottfred’s strategies for adapting to his original shop’s small space, taking advantage of grassroots marketing for expansion and establishing dozens of DRP relationships.
“Combining those two principles— speed of drying and movement of cars—is going to help us achieve the greatest efficiency,” he says. “The idea of continuous movement of the car without stopping is a lean principle that Symach promotes, and we’re looking to do it, too.” “[At the new facility], there’s minimum movement of cars. There’s probably three or four times you move a car, as opposed to eight or 10.” With goals of pulling in $5 million annually at the new facility, Gottfred expects to see a return within a few years. He’s transferring several employees from the other two shops.
to open in March, delays pushed back the set-up dates, and the facility will be fully functional this month. While March was more of a tentative date, delays at the new facility—which is expected to generate $5 million in annual revenue—meant the cost of keeping contractors on longer only piled on. Despite those frustrations, Gottfred is moving forward and expects to
recoup the costs soon. After installation is complete, he plans on negotiating a compensation agreement with Symach for the delay. As far as operations, he says the third Erie-LaSalle location will not only provide more load leveling for the 8,900-square-foot facility (the new building is located just one mile away), but also embody the antithesis to its original location’s car movement issue.
Gottfred says he learned the value of managing expectations from both sides when working with a partner, especially an international one, as the delay ended up costing his shop thousands of dollars. “We have to be very well coordinated when they ship, when they’re going to land, how they’re going to get through customs,” he says. “Then their technicians have to come over within a day or two and have to start unloading immediately because the shipment company wants these crates back, and then from there we get into the commissioning of the equipment and the training. “So we have to be very sharp in our scheduling, and then it doesn’t always go smooth. But you work through it and move on.” Gottfred hasn’t decided whether the new shop will replace the brick building his stepfather moved into over 80 years ago—but if it does, it will be in the name of constant improvement, of evolution, of moving forward. NOVEMBER 2016
IN THE TRENCHES
Keeping Busy Four tips for thriving as a shop operator wearing many hats How do you handle a busy schedule? How
1. Attitude A positive attitude makes all the difference in the world. I believe there is little you cannot accomplish if you put your heart and soul into it. Be resilient and persistent. Avoid making decisions based on fear. Consider failures and other negative experiences as learning and growth opportunities. Continue to seek something greater. I understand such rhetoric sounds a bit euphoric, perhaps Pollyannaish. So what? Being optimistic is OK. We know life is imperfect. We cannot always control what comes our way, but we can control how we react to it. Two rules to remember: 1. Don’t sweat the small stuff. 2. It’s all small stuff. In other words, don’t let it get you down. Don’t take yourself too seriously. 64
None of us walk on water. Maintain a sense of humor. Laughter is like a powerful medicine to make things better and put things in perspective.
2. Delegate I see many business people who have a hard time letting go of some duties and responsibilities. They want to know and control nearly every aspect of their business. They often believe that if you want it done right you have to do it yourself. That’s not necessarily a bad business strategy to maintain performance, unless you wish to grow your business. Understand that you can’t do it all. Hire the best talent you can get and delegate responsibilities to them. It can be a leap of faith to put trust in other people. Understand they may do things a little different from you. It’s OK. Ironically, we sometimes find that their way is better. Measure performance so that you know the outcome of their work is what you desire. Adapt a servant management philosophy and help those people grow. Eventually you may realize that helping other people advance themselves and improve their lot in life can be one of the most rewarding aspects of management.
3. Manage by Exception The higher you are in your business’s management, the more you should work on your business versus in the business. The more your business grows, the more areas there are to manage. The more there is to manage, the less of an opportunity you have to be closely involved in
all aspects. The need is to focus on those areas that matter most and where you can have the most positive impact. Managing by exception can be a great philosophy in many areas. In other words, measure performance and establish an acceptable range. If in any given time period the performance is within the acceptable range, move on and focus your attention in other areas. If it is not acceptable, dig deeper and find the source of the problem. Fix it and then move on. Reports and performance measurements should be tools to help you manage your business. Don’t let them become overwhelming and thus control your life. Limit the number of reports you really pay attention to.
4. Give of Yourself As much as many of us like to complain about our industry, there are many wonderful aspects to it. We provide a valuable service that is worthy of respect and dignity. Most of us make a good living that sustains a good lifestyle for our families. It’s only appropriate to give back in some form. Volunteering to participate on various boards and committees is a great way to do so. Even attending various industry events is a way of demonstrating support. Playing a role in improving our industry is a noble effort. Darrell Amberson is the president of operations at LaMettry’s Collision in the Twin Cities and a highly engaged, longtime industry volunteer and advocate. Reach him at email@example.com.
do you take on more responsibility and find time for it? How do you find time for volunteer efforts? How about industry events? Training? I often hear such questions, particularly from people in shop management roles. It’s especially relevant as one considers growing their business, such as adding locations, insurance relationships, staff, OE certifications, business diversification, or volunteering for industry leadership positions. As a person with many management responsibilities in an MSO of 10 locations, which has diversified into other areas such as mechanical repairs, glass and paintless dent repair, I also involve myself with a number of association board positions, advisory board participation and serve on a number of committees. Based on my knowledge of how others handle it as well as my own experience, I will offer some ideas and suggestions.
THE BEST COLLISION COVERAGE AND MORE FROM The FenderBender Live team was on scene once again to capture the most important news, products and interviews from SEMA. See all the photos, videos and the latest news at fenderbenderlive.com
FENDERBENDERLIVE.COM NOVEMBER 2016
Inspiring Loyalty A FranklinCovey leader shares his tips to earning customer and employee loyalty AS TOLD TO TESS COLLINS
Having developed training solutions based around Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, FranklinCovey specializes in improving business performance through changes in human behavior and other world-class business improvement content in the areas of leadership, execution and trust. Recently, FranklinCovey took all of the leadership and customer satisfaction knowledge that it has gained over the past 20 years and launched its Leading Customer Loyalty program, a one-day training session for frontline leaders that focuses on FrankinCovey’s three pillars of effective leaderships: empathy, responsibility and generosity. Sandy Rogers, global customer loyalty practice leader, who has been working with FranklinCovey since 2006, explained to FenderBender the importance of gaining employee loyalty and touched on how the program works.
What’s the first step in creating loyal customers? Before you can have a loyal customer, you need to have loyal employees. The customer experience will never exceed the employee experience. If an employee is miserable, he or she will not provide a good experience for the customer. If he or she is bubbly and happy, that will play out wonder fully with the customer. Employee loyalty is a prerequisite for customer loyalty. 66
How do you gain employee loyalty? It’s prett y simple : Treat employees the way you would like to be treated. Treat them with empathy, responsibilit y and generosit y. Those are the three key principles we teach in the Customer Loyalt y program. In addition to those principles, there are t wo loyalt y practices. For empathy, we teach how to make a human connection. You can’t show empathy if you’re not making a human connection. For responsibilit y, we teach going behind what the employee or customer is saying to find out what they really need. It’s not always necessarily the first thing that comes out of their mouth. Some specific tips for gaining employee loyalt y are of fering praise, being flexible with schedules to allow them to do the things that are important to them, and remembering their bir thdays or impor tant life events. How do you earn trust and show employees you’re open to suggestions? One of the most powerful ways to do this is by asking your team for suggestions on how to make more customers happy. Then, write down all of the ideas, vote on the best ones and implement them. This process honors and respects the insight that employees have from serving customers and gives employees owner-
ship for improving the customer experience. Everyone wants to feel like a valued member of a winning team pursuing an important missions. Asking for and acting on feedback goes a long way. Why is gaining employee loyalty so important? According to a 2012 MetLife study of employee benefits, one in three employees hopes to be working for a different employer within the year. Creating loyal employees can save companies money in turnover. Also, the employees that already have one foot out the door are not going to be the employees that are creating a great customer experience. How can a leader measure whether or not they are inspiring loyalty? At FranklinCovey, we suggest administering a very short, anonymous employee survey. The survey ranks answers from 0 (not at all) to 10 (very likely). The questions we suggest asking are: • How likely are you to recommend your location as a place to work? • How likely are you to recommend your leader as someone you would want to work for? • What’s the most important thing your location should do to satisfy the customer? (write-in response) Leaders that rank low on this survey
COURTESY SANDY ROGERS
What are some of the main takeaways from the Leading Customer Loyalty program? At FranklinCovey, we’ve discovered that over 70 percent of customer satisfaction is determined by the behavior of frontline employees. If frontline employees are not providing a stellar experience for the customers, chances are that customer will not remain loyal. Changing this type of behavior can be dif ficult because frontline employees are often promoted to leadership positions because they are really good at repairing cars, not necessarily because they know how to lead. These employees haven’t learned how to model, teach, and enforce loyalty among the staf f. The training is focused on giving frontline leaders the methods they need to do this.
are not doing a good job. For shops that only have a few employees, an anonymous survey won’t work. In those situations, I suggest having sit-down discussions with each of the employees. In order to get honest responses, it’s important to be open to criticism and not go on the defense. Leaders should ask their employees what they can do to help them out in their roles. Leaders need to show that they are trying to make things better for their employees. A frontline employee must be committed to understanding an employee’s needs in a way that makes the employee feel like their leader is invested in their development. Once issues have been brought up, leaders need to show that they are working on making those issues better. That will inspire loyalty. What does effective frontline leadership look like? An effective leader believes in the principles of empathy, responsibility and generosity. They know how to listen to people, they can take responsibility, they follow-up with people and they want to strengthen relationships. They go the extra mile. Leaders that inspire loyalty will recognize when people do things right rather than point out things that they’ve missed. If a frontline leader is not empathetic, they will not inspire loyalty. I do believe that people can be taught empathy. FranklinCovey produces videos and demonstrates what empathy is. We can provide exercises to build that empathy. How does all of this transfer over to building a loyal customer? There are a number of different methods that organizations use to build loyalty. Consumers are aware of these different techniques but it all comes down to the customer experience. You can have the best loyalty program in the world, but if your customers are not having a good experience, that’s not going to matter. Our mission is to give businesses the skills they need to provide a better experience more consistently. We want to move employees from good to great and building loyalty within a company is key in doing that. NOVEMBER 2016
Selecta Auto Body INNOVATORS:
J.R. Hubbard, Jackie Hubbard and Paul Scofield LOCATION:
Shop Department Signs that Open Eyes Selecta Auto Body utilizes bold shop signs that both educate customers and spark conversation
SIZE: Demystifying Collision Repair Shop owner J.R. Hubbard enlisted a gifted artist friend to create eye-catching signs that designate different departments in the shop.
5–14 feet STAFF:
AVERAGE MONTHLY CAR COUNT:
BY KELLY BEATON
customers’ eyes. THE INSPIRATION : J.R. Hubbard says he has always been bothered
by the “gloomy, dusty, dirty” image often associated with auto body shops. So, when Selecta Auto Body moved into a new building in early 2013, the owner wanted to create an especially clean, organized appearance throughout his shop. Hubbard also knew customers were going to get an up-close-and-personal look at his shop floor, since Selecta—located in a cramped San Francisco neighborhood—doesn’t have outdoor parking. Hubbard brainstormed with his wife, Jackie, on how to make things aesthetically pleasing in their 10,000-square-foot shop, which initially had the feel of an expansive warehouse. The couple eventually employed the services of a friend, Paul Scofield, a gifted artist and sign builder. Inspired by an old neon logo in front of Selecta’s building, the couple had Scofield create bold, eye-catching red signs that hung over each shop department. “We wanted our shop to be kind of a showpiece,” Hubbard says. “Where, right when someone comes in, they go ‘Wow.’”
“Body work is … a mystery to a lot of people. There’s a lot of people that just don’t trust it,” Hubbard says. “So we’ve built these signs kind of with this idea that let’s start to demystify. Because, if anything else, it’ll give somebody the opportunity to ask the question, ‘What do you do in body work?’ Hubbard also jokes that his shop signage offers subliminal messaging. His reasoning: each department sign features five stars across the top, and Selecta typically garners five-star customer reviews on Yelp. HOW THEY’RE MADE: Hubbard’s friend, Scofield, made the signs
out of wood, over the course of nearly a month. The signs range in length from 5 to 14 feet and they’re all roughly 2 feet tall. Hubbard says his friend hand painted the artwork, too. For the shop’s sizable “office” sign, Scofield added a large green arrow, and painted the appearance of light bulbs on it (Hubbard didn’t want to utilize actual light bulbs, due to Selecta’s green initiative) . THE COST: Hubbard estimates that his shop’s six department
signs cost around $500 each on average for a total of $4,950.
WHAT THEY DO: With aid from the massive department signs,
THE RETURN: The bottom line: the department signs spark
when customers pull into Selecta, they’re immediately given an inside glance into the collision repair industry. Customers are especially intrigued by the shop’s “Emergency Room,” where a pair of frame machines are housed. Hubbard says the bold department signs not only help brand his shop, but also offer transparency and spark conversation from customers.
dialogue and promptly put customers at ease once they pull into Selecta, Hubbard says. “We get a lot of comments,” the owner notes. “I think if you post signs, you’re making yourself transparent. Customers like that.”
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COURTESY SELECTA AUTO BODY
WHAT THEY ARE: Large, overhead department signs that catch