FEEDBACK PAGE 22
BUILD A BETTER
BENEFITS PACKAGE PAGE 25
S T R AT E G I E S A N D I N S P I R AT I O N F O R M S O S U C C E S S
TO REFLECT PAGE 29
How to create leaders that stay true to your company’s vision PAGE 12
ON AN UPSWING R.G. Greenawalt’s five shop locations bring in $9 million annually, thanks in part to a leadership style that urges workers to improve incrementally.
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F E AT U R E
LAUNCH Tech USA
18 | Providing a Push
Shop owner Steve Springer inspires employees by incrementally pushing them toward larger roles.
Toyota Motor North America
20 | The Route to Delegation
12 | Taking Account of Leadership
COURTESY SIMPLE MOMENTS PHOTOGRAPHY, GETTY IMAGES
Being approachable can pay serious dividends for shop owners
Pre-screening job candidates can leave you with a staff full of future managers
6 | Acquisitions
22 | Preach Positivity
By encouraging feedback from employees, shop owners can Increase buy-in
8 | Assemble Your Game Plan
25 | Valuable Benefits
The keys to moving forward in 2020
T R E N D S + A N A LY S I S
10 | New Take on Mentorship
At Service King, e-learning opportunities pair with hands-on activities for apprentices
Robust benefits packages can lead to stellar employee retention
29 | Time for Reflection
The value of looking in your rear-view mirror
MARCH 2020 | THE MSO PROJECT
ACQUISITIONS FIX AUTO ADDS LOCATIONS IN WESTERN USA Michigan Expansion CARSTAR grew its footprint in January when it added Ellis Brothers Collision, a facility with multiple certifications to its credit.
CARSTAR EXPANDS DEALER COLLISION CENTERS CARSTAR is continuing to build upon its network of collision repair facilities based in auto dealerships throughout North America. Currently, nearly two of every five franchised dealerships operate collision repair centers, the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) reports. Over the past year, a number of dealership-based collision repair centers looked beyond their local resources for more support in their growing businesses. “We needed to be able to compete on a scale with the consolidators while still maintaining our presence in our community,” explained Jon Davidson, who operates three CARSTAR Davidson locations in upstate New York. “With multiple locations, the metrics became complicated, and we needed more transparency and analytics to understand and improve our performance.” 6
PROCARE COLLISION ACQUIRES THREE SHOPS ProCare Collision has acquired Alamo Body & Paint, a San Antonio–based MSO with three locations in central Texas. The acquisition will allow ProCare Collision to expand its services to new markets in Boerne, Kerrville, and Schertz. ProCare Collision is I-Car Gold Class Certified and currently has shops throughout San Antonio, Austin, the I-35 corridor, and Houston. JANUARY
GERBER ACQUIRES CALIF. LOCATIONS The Boyd Group Inc. recently announced that it entered the state of California via two acquisitions representing nine locations in greater Los Angeles. Six of the collision repair shops are located in Corona, Lake Elsinore, Menifee, Moreno Valley, Murrieta, and Palm Desert and previously operated as International Auto Crafters.
THE MSO PROJECT | MARCH 2020
Fix Auto USA has announced its continued growth by adding eight franchise locations. The new locations expand Fix Auto USA’s footprint to now include Colorado Springs. The added shop locations include: • Fix Auto Burlingame and Fix Auto San Francisco—Potrero Avenue (Burlingame, Calif. and San Francisco). These shops formerly operated as Sunny Auto Body. • Fix Auto Colorado Springs (Colorado Springs, Colo.). Formerly: Beem’s Collision Center • Fix Auto Las Vegas—Central (Las Vegas). Formerly: American Collision Center • Fix Auto Normal Heights (San Diego). Formerly: Deluxe Auto Body • Fix Auto Palmdale (Palmdale, Calif.). Owned and operated by Mike Neis, who also owns and operates two other Southern California locations; Fix Auto Lancaster and Fix Auto Quartz Hill • Fix Auto Rocklin (Rocklin, Calif.). Formerly: Top Gun Automotive Reconditioning • Fix Auto Vallejo (Vallejo, Calif.). Formerly: Rose’s Collision Repair Center
CARSTAR OPENS NEW MICH. LOCATION CARSTAR has opened CARSTAR Ellis Brothers Collision in Milford Charter Township, Mich. The 13,000-square-foot facility is equipped with equipment to perform collision repairs to all makes and models. Recently earning its aluminum welding certification, CARSTAR Ellis Brothers Collision is also nearing completion of its I-CAR Gold certification. “Experience is important to me and, having been in the business so long, I like to surround myself with established leaders, which is why I joined CARSTAR,” says David Ellis, owner, CARSTAR Ellis Brothers Collision. FE BRUARY
CARSTAR OWNERS OPEN NEW TEXAS FACILITY CARSTAR recently announced the opening of CARSTAR Mansfield Paint & Body in Mansfield, Texas. That shop is the second CARSTAR facility for owners Steve Davis and Allen Massey, who also own CARSTAR Campbell’s Auto Body. Coming from 30 years in the banking industry, Steve relied on his business partner, Allen, to help get him acclimated to the collision repair industry. Their CARSTAR Campbell’s Auto Body facility joined CARSTAR in 2017. CARSTAR Mansfield Paint & Body is a 7,000-square-foot facility. As an I-CAR Gold facility, the team has the resources and equipment to repair all makes and models.
Locations in Newhall, Santa Clarita, and Valencia operated as Centre Pointe Collision. All of the aforementioned shops are located east of Los Angeles in Riverside County.
YOUR 24/7 COLLISION COMMUNITY FOLLOW US: • SEE PHOTOS & VIDEOS • GET THE LATEST COLLISION CONTENT • TELL US WHAT YOU REALLY THINK
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Welcome to the New Year REFLECTING ON THE PAST, WITH AN EYE TOWARD THE FUTURE
The beginning of a new year (and a new decade!) is a natural
time to look forward and to set goals, as well as look back on the previous year and take note on the lessons learned. I love columnist DJ Mitchell’s approach to it (p. 29) and the very specific examples, both personally and professionally, that he listed. One sentence, in particular, really stuck out to me: “As a business leader, what I’m reminded of many years is just how fast time can fly.” I love that, in the column, DJ was willing to be vulnerable and admit that he hasn’t always taken the time to slow down and appreciate the present moment for what it is. As a business owner, I’m sure that many, if not all of you, can relate to that sentiment. Part of being an entrepreneur means that you always have your eye on the future; the next goal, the next acquisition, the next critical hire. That feeling of constant ambition can be addicting. But, as DJ so perfectly outlines, reflecting on yourself and your experience is necessary for growth. Sustainable, effective growth is, as so many of you know, built on thoughtful consideration and understanding the complete picture. You can’t do that without a thorough understanding of your wins, your losses, and why those occurred. Throughout this issue of The MSO Project, you’ll find plenty of stories with shop owners who have done just that: meticulously evaluated what made them successful and capitalized on that. Before we get too far into the year, I strongly encourage you all, if you haven’t already, to sit down and reflect on 2019 and the lessons you’ll carry into 2020. It may very well be more illuminating than you expected.
THE MSO PROJECT | MARCH 2020
Anna Zeck Editorial Director The MSO Project
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Service King’s New Approach to Apprenticeship
INDUSTRY TRAINING IS LEANING TOWARD A ONE-ON-ONE, BLENDED LEARNING APPROACH BY MELISSA STEINKEN
WHAT WAS THE CHANGE IN THE PROGRAM THAT HAD THE LARGEST IMPACT?
One of the primary changes was ensuring through selection criteria, that we had the best possible supervisor and mentee combo chosen. We looked for mentors that had previously been helping others. Maybe that meant they were an instructor at a school, maybe they did some type of 10
THE MSO PROJECT | MARCH 2020
training. We wanted to make sure they were productive.
TELL ME MORE ABOUT THE PROGRAM. WHERE DO YOU FIND MENTEE CANDIDATES?
We primarily recruit from technical schools. Most of the mentees either apply from a recruiting event or on the website. We definitely looked for candidates that already knew the body shop basics.
Could the candidate disassemble a car? Can the candidate reassemble a car? Can the candidate read an estimate or do small body repairs? We also looked closely at the candidate’s attendance. If they had poor attendance, it’s an indicator that they’re not responsible to show up to work on time. Even being 5 to 10 minutes late means a car that should have been in paint in the morning is
COURTESY RACHEL BLACKMAN, GETTY IMAGES
Service King led the pack at the first technician mentor/mentee competition hosted by the Collision Repair Education Foundation (CREF). The first place team included Bradford Amison, mentee technician and Frank Allen, mentor, from Service King in Leander, Texas. The inaugural competition was held the last week of September in order to recognize the performance of the next generation of collision technicians and their mentors. The third place team also represented Service King, with Ian Chambers, mentee technician, and Ralph Gonzales from Dallas, Texas. The teams at the CREF competition were put into a real-world setting, which the experts at Service King share , is an application they expect other technicians do to help manage time and work. The victories come shortly after Service King revamped its training program to focus on handson, on-the-job training and ensuring the mentor and the technician were paired well together. “We were tasked by executive leadership to take a look at the program’s overall effectiveness, ideally in this environment and in collision repair,” says Rachel Blackman, senior director, learning and development at Service King Collision Repair Centers. “Ideally in this environment and in collision repair, the best experiences are hands on.” Blackman shares more on the changes to the program and what they mean to the success of younger collision repair technicians.
RACHEL BLACKMAN SENIOR DIRECTOR, LEARNING & DEVELOPMENT SERVICE KING COLLISION REPAIR CENTERS
TELL ME MORE ABOUT THE CURRICULUM. WHAT DOES IT ENTAIL?
We’re focused on a blended learning approach. We work with the managers of the shops but we can’t control the type or amount of work coming into the body shop at any given time. Repetition is key. We offer videos and e-learning opportunities for work like dent repairs. That type of work is something the mentee might see a lot in the shop so they can learn the process on a video and then when the work comes into the shop, be able to follow the procedure Originally we asked our supervisors to present a theory piece that would have been an online piece in more of a classroom setting.
WHAT ARE SOME GOALS YOU HAVE FOR THE PROGRAM?
now in paint in the afternoon. That’s a whole day lost. The program is also not without its challenges. One of those challenges is trying to find a candidate that can be paired with a technician mentor who is generations older than him or her.
WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT ENROLLMENT?
Right now, we have 20 students enrolled
in the program as mentees along with 20 mentors. The program lasts one year but that can be extended or shortened depending on circumstances and growth. Initially, the program had one instructor to four students. The instructor to student structure never went away but we now focus on more one-on-one hands-on training. It’s on the job training supplemented with online courses.
We’d like to expand on it slightly and strengthen the program with other technical schools and programs. Our goal is to develop the next generation of technicians. As for the mentors, we can all stand to receive more training. We’d like to see if there are career paths open for the instructors through that mentor development, be it leadership or other opportunities for the business. On a whole, we need to do better as an industry. We have a lot of talent and opportunity, but we need to do better at attracting talent. No matter where all the talent lands, we will all benefit. MARCH 2020 | THE MSO PROJECT
Accountable Leadership BEING A LE ADER ME ANS BEING BOTH APPROACHABLE AND RESPONSIBLE FOR AN ENTIRE TEAM
BY MELISSA STEINKEN PHOTOGRAPHY BY SIMPLE MOMENTS PHOTOGRAPHY
On an Upswing R.G. Greenawaltâ€™s five shop locations bring in $9 million annually, thanks in part to a leadership style that urges workers to improve incrementally.
When you’re a leader, accountability is on you. THAT’S HOW R.G. GREENAWALT SEES IT. With roughly 20 years in the collision repair industry since he took over his family’s business in 2001, Greenawalt has the leadership experience to back it up. Greenawalt, the owner of Auto Collision & Glass in New York, oversees all operations for the business’ five locations. He works alongside his sister, who handles the bookkeeping and money, and his father, who has taken on the role of property manager. “I’ve learned that, as leaders, we can’t be everywhere at once,” Greenawalt says. “It’s tough to find me just at one location and one store, because I’m bouncing around, attending meetings at different shops.” Yet, Greenawalt does find time to maintain an opendoor policy with employees. When he was featured in FenderBender in 2017, Greenawalt was leading a facility with 60 employees and an annual revenue of $8.5 million combined for all four locations. Today, his business has increased, with the groundbreaking of a fifth location in early 2020, and a total of 93 employees. Over the course of a few years, Greenawalt even tweaked the setup of his facilities. He decided to keep four collision repair locations and open a separate facility for towing and glass repair. The numbers might have changed, but Greenawalt’s approachable leadership tactics have not. And it shows—the shop is produces roughly $9 million in yearly sales.
THE MSO PROJECT | MARCH 2020
Altering Inside Workflow
Acting with Urgency The staff at Auto Collision & Glass repairs 475 combined vehicles per month, which requires consistent communication between departments.
Five years ago, Greenawalt decided to redo the shop’s employee structure and workflow. “In the repair process from the old days, the team always would get a car into the shop and one technician would work on that car all the way through the repair,” Greenawalt says. “Then we realized there were so many demands within the repair that the original process was delaying cars being delivered to customers.” Auto Collision & Glass’ process wasn’t adhering to lean methodology and was impeding the timeliness of the repair. “I thought to myself: What am I going to do to make this better?” Greenawalt recalls. Above all else, Greenawalt wanted to move far away from the way repairs were being conducted in the old days. “It was always the same way, from the ’70s on,” he says. “The car was simply done when it was done. There was no Internet, and everyone kept talking about how good they were, but, in reality, KPIs and benchmarks were just beginning to become prevalent.” “It was the old attitude of, ‘We want things done, and we want them done now.’” The New York shop operator decided to go lean and make the process lean. Greenawalt says the majority of his lean ideas came from his time spent in industry veteran Mike Anderson’s 20 Group.
The first step he took to going lean was to redo his staff structure in an effort to optimize work flow. The original staff had all been hired by his dad. First, Greenawalt let staff go if they were not working to their potential. Second, Greenawalt rearranged the body shop back-end teams to cater to the strengths of each employee. Third, Greenawalt renamed the positions his staff held. For example, he categorized a repair planner as someone who performed teardown and disassembly of the vehicle. Then, he assigned one person as the primary liaison between the back-end team and the customer. Greenawalt says the switch in workflow was easier when he also utilized all aspects of his shop management tools. One section of the body shop’s CCC One management software not being used to its full potential was the customer experience tab. The shop operator instructed his team to label out all the tasks in the customer experience tab and follow each closely to completion. The team also now follows up with the customer within two days of delivery. “Every time we finish a repair, we call the customer within two days of pickup,” he says. “I figured the next day was too fast of a timeframe and made it more difficult for my team to complete the task of following up.”
MARCH 2020 | THE MSO PROJECT
Auto Collision & Glass Location:
5 in New York
12,500 square feet
Staff Size: 93
Monthly Car Count: 475 (combined)
Annual Revenue: $9 million
THE MSO PROJECT | MARCH 2020
Maintaining Open-Door Policy The process of going lean helps highlight a team’s true leaders, Greenawalt says. He also stresses that leaders need to be there to address any issues or questions. To start being more available to employees, Greenawalt and the three other senior leaders of the New York business are spread out among each location. That way, the team can more easily go directly two a top-level leader when concerns arise. Greenawalt conducts morning breakout meetings with his management team every day at 7:15 a.m. He emails an outline of the day to the team every morning, around 6:45 a.m. The team discusses the day’s plan. A quick meeting keeps everyone accountable to the shop’s workflow progress.
On the last Wednesday of every month, the team gets together to discuss the company’s overarching performance. This meeting typically lasts two hours. Each month, the team chooses one shop location to discuss in greater detail. “I speak to my sister and father multiple times per day, every day,” Greenawalt says. “My sister is based at another location and we recently have gone through and weaned out our booking department, as well. So now there’s no more roles overlapping for her. She’s able to handle accounts receivables and accounts payables, which has really freed up her time.” To keep a consistent level of training and leadership across all locations, Greenawalt even onboards everyone from
True Quality Control Auto Collision & Glass shop owner R.G. Greenawalt (right) holds his staff members accountable in part by keeping a watchful eye on their adherance to the business’s established repair procedures.
the newest location. His business development manager, Kevin Gross, helps Greenawalt keep an eye on the procedures. Gross reviews every single estimate from the start to close, Greenawalt says. In addition to helping auditing processes, Gross helps train new employees. He trains them on how to follow the collision repair shop’s lean practices. Between Greenawalt and Gross, the duo is able to cover problems from the ground up. Say a technician calls in sick; Gross typically covers for the team member. “You have to stay involved as a leader,” Greenawalt says. “What time do you even have to see if people are doing their jobs correctly if you’re not there?”
MARCH 2020 | THE MSO PROJECT
How I Work: Steve Springer Though few people expect to be in a leadership role at the age of 22, Steve Springer was thrust into that situation years ago, as a member of the Marine Corps. That experience stuck with him. After approximately 20 years in the industry, Springer now spends roughly three days per week working in the body shop. While his son, Nick Springer, now runs the majority of the dayto-day operations, Steve maintains a role overseeing the Fix Auto franchise culture. “My job is to keep everyone working the culture, working the mission,” Springer says. Springer credits his ability to lead to his time spent in the military. 18
THE MSO PROJECT | MARCH 2020
“They take you right out of college at the age of 22,” he notes, “and you just get a ton of responsibility at a really young age, which you rarely see in the civilian world.” Springer entered the collision repair industry when he tried his hand at co-owning a collision repair shop with his brother, who had previous restoration experience. However, barely three years later, Springer bought his brother out. Springer first opened his own body shop in San Jose. Today, his family runs three Fix Auto locations that combine to generate $6.6 million in annual revenue. AS TOLD TO MELISSA STEINK EN
A FIX AUTO FRANCHISE OWNER LEADS BY CALLING ON HIS MILITARY BACKGROUND
I focus on SOPs because I do think they are good in measuring right and wrong.
I think, a lot of times in business, workers are worried about getting in trouble and not following a procedure correctly. I always tell my team that there is no “getting in trouble.” We’re adults here. We do steps right or we “err” and we correct those errors.
I use self-deprecation and humility to gain the trust of my staff. I tell my
3 locations: San Jose, Calif., Sunnyvale and Gilroy Owner:
Steve Springer 36,000 square feet for all 3 locations combined 30
Monthly Car Count:
185 (combined) Annual Revenue:
I rely on my experts because I know I don’t have the expertise. My job’s to un-
derstand how the whole business works and then put people in the proper position to succeed. I believe that no one person can possibly have all the knowledge of every department. I can go in and let the team know what’s not acceptable in terms of a finish and appearance, etcetera. I’m a reasonable quality control guy, but I never go into any department in the shop and just tell the team what to do. At the end of the day, though, I rely on my experts, the people who are repairing the cars and the competent employees. My quality-control skills are not better than anyone else’s. I just have to con-
vince my guys that there is a right and a wrong when it comes to repairs. We used to have an issue in the shop a few years ago in which the team was focused solely on sales. I had to quickly put a stop to that process and explain that there is pre-accident, industry standard and then there’s not industry standard.
team a story that showcases this. The story goes: I once put a fender liner on a newly, freshly painted car and I had a half dozen screws in front of me and a battery-powered screw gun. I started zipping these screws to tie the fender liner back where it belongs and I wasn’t paying attention. It wasn’t my wheelhouse. I took the wrong length of screw and went right through the brand new painted fender. I’ve told that story enough that my employees who have been with me over 20 years now—there’s three of them—will tell the story and occasionally make fun of me saying, “Hey, you don’t want that guy on the shop floor. There’s an appropriate place for Steve and it’s not here.” I don’t meet my new employees until a month after they start. I delegate that to
the local manager who’s doing the hiring. After folks have settled into a new organization and they’re going to be keepers, then I’ll introduce myself. It’s really about the store manager and what’s expected of him. They do their own hiring and firing on site. We hire slow and fire fast around here. We mostly just hire as we grow. One of the most beneficial tools I use as a leader and look at religiously, is Fix Auto’s dashboard. It’s kind of a self-
management tool. It’s a web-based tool which extrapilates information from the
estimating system and is essentially a leader’s bird’s-eye view in a single page to tell if you’re on track. It helps us figure out if we’re short each month or ahead of schedule. Before I franchised in 2011, I had to manually create these types of management reports. You need to be able to track KPIs throughout the month. I also like to use the CCC ONE mobile app to help keep me abreast of vehicles coming into the shop even when I’m offsite. We do bi-monthly meetings with all the stores. We meet over lunch, two times
each month. We interact via web cameras. I run it and all the managers are involved. I ask the managers about what’s going well and where they need help. We keep the meetings to about 15 minutes maximum because it helps to keep everyone focused and on track. For most of my career I’ve worked in the front office. I’ve always been a white-
collar guy. It’s similar to when I was in the military. I sit mostly in an office, which is like a cockpit, and don’t get my hands dirty. I think it’s a fun job, but I think the important players in the shop are the ones on the floor turning wrenches. I try to encourage engagement in the industry. I encouraged my sons to work in the
business once they were college-educated, 25 years old and had worked for someone else for at least two years. Today, Nick is the only one still working in the business. I send him to workshops and have him meet as many other Fix Auto owners as possible so he can learn the business from a wide range of perspectives. Nick has worked in the business since 2015 and right now he manages employees, staffing for all three locations, training, payroll and production. We’re on target for my retirement and passing of the baton for 2024. MARCH 2020 | THE MSO PROJECT
Surrounding Yourself with the Right Staff
YOU CAN ONLY TAKE A STEP BACK AS A LEADER IF YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TEAM IN PLACE
AS TOLD TO MELISSA STEINK EN
THE MSO PROJECT | MARCH 2020
TIP NO. 1: STOP DELEGATING THE PROCESS TO OTHER COWORKERS.
In order to make sure every team member is working according to their individual strengths, the owner or operator should personally take a role in the hiring and onboarding process. One way to get involved in the onboarding process is to take over the task of prescreening candidates and sitting in on the interviews. I take on the hiring process because I want my other managers to be able to focus on sales, production and quality.
TIP NO. 2: TAKE TIME TO PERSONALLY VET THE CANDIDATE.
When I pre-screen a candidate, the calls typically last 15 to 30 minutes. But, by about 15 minutes, I know that if I’m still
You may have heard other leaders do it. You might be sitting there, thinking, “how can I do it myself?” After all, with most shop operators saying they start work before the doors open and stay until after close, who wouldn’t want to take a step back from some of the day-to-day responsibilities to look at the big picture? But, in order to take that step back and deep breath, shop operators need to develop strong team players around him or her, says Doug Engle, president of the Stonewall Group, a Maaco MSO group. “My first year or two as a leader, I couldn’t step back,” he says. “I think the key to accomplishing that is hiring the right person to take over your responsibility.” Engle leads the MSO group that has acquired 10 Maaco locations across different states, namely Maryland, Michigan and Ohio. Before operating the shop, he spent time at Maaco training other operators on how to lead their stores. Three years ago, Engle was asked to step up and take over his own store, putting all of his knowledge to the test. Within those three years, he’s not only raised the shop’s value to about $14.5 million, he’s learned that the way to accomplish working on the business is by surrounding oneself with a strong team. Below, Engle outlines how to hire in order to assemble that type of team.
on the phone with the candidate, I have a good idea that I’m going to be inviting them in for a second interview. During this conversation, I have one goal in mind. I’m looking for someone to not fill the position he or she is applying for but someone who has the skills and qualities to qualify for the next position in the pipeline. I want to hire someone excited by a dream or a goal that doesn’t simply rely within the four walls of the body shop. I don’t want someone who is going to only come in, want to work a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. job and then cash out.
TIP NO. 3: ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS.
During the call, I make sure to ask questions that will showcase whether the candidate wants to grow in a career.
I also inquire into the candidate’s skill level for the job. I look to see if they’re philosophically compatible with the software and operating procedures. I always ask, “What’s your approach to profitability?” Don’t just ask, “Are you looking to grow?” Instead, ask an open-ended question that needs an answer indicating if the interviewee is ready for the next career step.
TIP NO. 4: BRING IN ANOTHER OPINION.
While I take on the responsibility of sourcing and pre-screening candidates, I don’t make that final decision. I want my team of managers to feel empowered by their staff. We follow the operating philosophy of “hire, train and empower the right people with responsibility, resources
and effective incentives to create a culture of ownership and accountability.”
TIP NO.5: CONTINUE THE GROWTH MINDSET OF HIRING INTO THE TRAINING.
The process isn’t finished once the candidate is hired. After the new employee starts, it’s important to focus on the training in the shop. We like to promote the idea of helping each other continuously learn by participating in a mentorship program. We participate in the collision, refinishing and repair advisory committee for a local school system. A high school student comes into the shop and works with us for four days out of the week. The student is paired with another technician or worker in the shop to help him or her improve upon the skills for a career they’ve chosen. MARCH 2020 | THE MSO PROJECT
Commitment to a Proper Culture
A TEAM FULL OF POSITIVE ATTITUDES STARTS WITH AN INNOVATIVE MINDSET BY MELISSA STEINKEN
TIP NO. 1: CHANGE THE HIRING MINDSET.
Molina implemented a hiring process that involved all of his managers. The team now has three interviews with a potential employee and, at each of the interviews, every single manager is present. By having all managers at the interviews, the team as a whole can more easily identify red flags presented by job candidates. Molina also recommends focusing on one specific question in interviews. For instance, he typically promptly informs job candidates that there are no rules for the interview. Then, the team observes how the person reacts. The team keeps an eye out for answers that indicate that the employee will be able to handle responsibility and unexpected situations. 22
THE MSO PROJECT | MARCH 2020
Glaser, meanwhile, mainly recommends having more than one manager in an interview. He typically has two people in interviews. It’s all about asking the candidate questions to determine their attitude and personality, he says (See Sidebar: Handing Out a Personality Quiz) “I want someone with a good work ethic, who’s accountable, and then I can teach them all the other skills required for the position,” Glaser says. Glaser looks for qualities including passion for the craft and customer service, a good attitude, and an ability to work as a team member. To instill those values, he had cards made with the values written on them. Team members keep cards at their workstations, or they can also notice them on a banner hanging over the shop floor.
TIP NO.2: ENCOURAGE FEEDBACK EVERYWHERE.
Molina is looking for staff members that will be able to walk into an environment and offer options to change a culture, if necessary. Molina recommends that a body shop operator offer a way for their staff to anonymously provide feedback on the facility and the operations. For example, Molina provides suggestion cards that employees can fill out with any recommendations or questions they have to improve the business. Glaser began his overhaul of culture by including his team in the process. He wanted his team to be involved in the end result, so that everyone felt encouraged to maintain ideal values. “We do a quality-control checklist in the shop, and the last person to do the checklist is the estimator,” Glaser says. Glaser has his team perform that
COURTESY GLASER’S COLLISION CENTER
With a facility that has over 50 employees you might think a few would inevitably get lost in the shuffle, right? If you had asked Robert Molina that question two years ago, your assumption would’ve been correct. Today? It’s a different story and a different shop culture for Molina and CollisionCare Xpress. Molina, the owner of the Miami-area shop underwent a complete shop culture revamp after he realized the employees he was surrounding himself with were contributing to a negative work environment. “Changing my culture was a huge eye opener for me,” Molina says. Since he began revamping his shop culture two years ago, Molina has seen an increase of $500,000 in sales each month. “At the end of the day, a shop culture can really make or break a facility’s success,” he says. Aaron Glaser, a Kentucky shop owner, has experienced a similar culture turnaround in his four shops. For him it's all about attitude. “If you can't be a team player and have a good attitude then we don't have a place for you,” Glaser says. To redo his team culture, Glaser had his entire team meet for 2–3 hours to redefine their work environments in greater Louisville. Since that day nearly two years ago, he’s had minimal turnover. Below, Molina and Glaser share their tips to a complete culture makeover.
Pieces in Place At owner Aaron Glaser’s Kentucky shops, he works hard to have a staff that prides itself on presenting the facilities in a positive light.
HANDING OUT A PERSONALITY QUIZ Kentucky shop owner Aaron Glaser has each potential employee take a personality quiz with 25 questions. BENEFIT: The quiz will provide insight into a job candidate’s personality and show how they will react in certain situations. It will divide people into personality types from A (ambitious and
checklist in order to provide each staff member with feedback on the job. The last person to do the checklist is the estimator because they’re usually in constant contact with the customer. If the estimator isn’t available to provide comments, the person to complete the quality-control checklist is whoever had first contact with the estimate.
someone doing an exemplary job of following core values he’ll make sure to call attention to it. “As a leader we need to embody the values that we want to see in our staff as well,” he says. At morning meetings, Glaser also picks one value to stress to the team.
TIP. NO. 3: KEEP TABS ON PROGRESS.
An owner must make strides to improve their shop’s skill level and appearance, Molina says. By staying on top of the business’ future, the owner demonstrates to the team that he or she cares about investing in their futures. Molina recently invested in gaining more shop certifications, he says. He invested $700,000 for the shop to become Mercedes-Benz certified, a certification that no other body shop facility has in his immediate area.
It’s important to keep tabs on how a staff is progressing toward their goals and daily tasks, Molina notes. The Florida shop operator schedules daily production meetings for the entire staff, but he also has extra group meetings during lunch for the management team. And, he checks in on employees oneon-one, with an open-door policy. Glaser leads his team in praising each other for work well done. When he sees
aggressive) through D (distressed).
RESULT: Once job candidates’ personality types are determined, the manager can figure out who will work better with whom, based on which type it was determined they have.
TIP NO. 4: INVEST IN THE SHOP’S FUTURE.
“Insurance companies are seeing us as adaptable, willing to communicate, and view us as a longterm partner,” he says. Glaser also invests in the quality of his team. His shop is not only I-CAR Gold class certified, but the facility also often hosts lunch-and-learn sessions with companies like 3M. Those companies have been vital in teaching Glaser’s employees how to remain up-to-date on any and all necessary training. MARCH 2020 | THE MSO PROJECT
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INSIDE CHAMPION CARSTAR’S
BENEFITS PACKAGE PAUL EDGCOMB, owner of Champion CARSTAR, outlines what’s inside his employee benefits package for an MSO.
HEALTH: Employees pay weekly fee and owner covers all co-pays, deductibles
Building a Benefits Package
TIPS FOR ASSEMBLING A BENEFITS PACKAGE THAT ADDRESSES MODERN EMPLOYEES’ NEEDS
VACATION: 8 days in first year, additional day per year up to 15 days
COURTESY CHAMPION CARSTAR
BY MELISSA STEINKEN
Offering employees benefits like time off and health insurance can increase a workplace’s retention. In fact, according to the Society for Human Resource Management, retention was 28 percent more effective with such benefits. Paul Edgcomb, owner of Champion CARSTAR in Mercer County, N.J., says offering some sort of benefits package is one of the most critical actions an employer can take these days. “Get good people and you treat them right,” Edgcomb suggests. To keep skilled workers around at his first body shop, Edgcomb says he went to the great length of paying for 100 percent of his employees’ health insurance. There’s no denying employees appreciate such benefits. In another Society for Human Resource Management survey, 92 percent of employees stated that benefits are important to their overall job satisfaction. At the outset of operating Champion CARSTAR, Edgcomb offered a sparse benefits package. As he got older, the shop owner realized he needed to keep his quality staff members around. Now, at the age of 65, he’s looking to take a step back from the day-to-day operations, which requires a staff that’s around to stay and takeover. Here’s a look at how Edgcomb built a staff to last.
401(K): Edgcomb contributes up to 3 percent of income.
TIME OFF: U.S. Holidays and the employee’s birthday
MARCH 2020 | THE MSO PROJECT
Champion CARSTAR Location:
Mercer County, NJ Owner:
Paul Edgcomb Size:
9,000 square feet Staff:
15 employees (9 back end; 6 front office) Monthly Car Count:
Average Repair Order:
$3,500-$4,000 (60% scheduled/ 40% non-driveable) Annual Revenue:
Edgcomb entered the collision repair industry because he had an opportunity to purchase a body shop with his friend. He seized upon the investment. The shop owner is analytical and calls refers to himself as “a chemical engineer corporate dropout.” In 2004, Edgcomb made another bold move and decided to leave his business partner due to differences of opinion. So, he moved up the street and bought another body shop. “I have a tendency to be more corporate in my benefits and people and all that than your typical auto body guy,” Edgcomb explains. Edgcomb offered his team a standard benefits package from the beginning (See Breakout Box: Inside Champion CARSTAR’s Benefits Package). “Probably like most engineers, I’m a bit of a micromanager and I had a really hard time letting go, and then I just got 26
THE MSO PROJECT | MARCH 2020
really good people and they’ve grown,” he says. But, since getting his feet wet as a shop owner, Edgcomb has tripled the size of his business.
At the start of his body shop operation, Edgcomb was operating a collision repair facility that was 3,000 square feet. Two years ago, he tripled that size to 9,000 square feet. One of his team members started out as a technician and now works as the operations manager, giving him nearly two decades of experience with the body shop. But Edgcomb had to hire more staff as the business grew. Today, he has nine employees on the shop floor and six employees in the front office. Edgcomb saw that if he was going to continue to expand the body shop and maintain a responsible staff, he needed to also upgrade his benefits plan.
Edgcomb kept much of his original benefits package the same and mainly added to the package. Before solidifying the plan, he sat down at his computer and plugged in numbers to an Excel spreadsheet to see how changing certain KPIs would impact productivity and the team’s pay. Last year, he wanted to increase incentives even further. So, he started a bonus program for his staff. “People indicated to me that they wanted an opportunity to do better,” Edgcomb says. The bonus plan is based on three KPIs: • Customer service index score (CSI) • Net promoter score (NPS) • Touch time The staff needs to meet a goal of over 95 percent for their CSI score and 92.5 percent NPS. Touch time has to be over 3.6 hours per day, a benchmark that increases by .1 hours every two months.
COURTESY CHAMPION CARSTAR
Don’t overlook these steps in forming a benefits package KAREN YOUNG, president and founder of HR Resolutions, says she struggles with creating benefits plans for even her own staff. Below, she shares the important steps a leader should keep in mind when assembling a benefits package.
STEP 1: DO NOT DO IT ALONE. Young recommends consulting with a qualified, trusted benefit broker that deals in commercial and employer sponsored plans. Brokers who work in employersponsored plans will understand all the nuances of the various options available, and the risks and costs of each type.
STEP 2: ANALYZE A BUDGET. A company needs to lay out how much it’s willing and able to spend. For
And, the bonus program is based on hours produced. Edgcomb says that, in the last year, the team’s net promoter score (NPS) has been around 98 percent. The response rate for NPS is between 60 and 70 percent, a number that he says is exemplary. Edgcomb tracks his numbers through the CCC One management system Through CCC One, he says the shop has about 2,000 responses for customer reviews. His team sits down for a release meeting to discuss performance each day at 7:45 a.m. The team’s paid hourly and works Monday through Thursday from 7:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. and then gets out at 3 p.m. on Fridays. The shop’s estimator comes in from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.
“I recently conducted a survey of Indeed and all my employees had great things to say about us and the benefits package,” he says.
Edgcomb says that a benefits package shows employees that they are valued by the company. “As a business, money can only get you so far,” he says. Edgcomb also hired someone to be the technical training person for the body shop. The new hire will help implement a future apprenticeship program so that Edgecomb can continue to invest in his employees’ careers and future well-being.
example, Young offers her staff unlimited
STEP 4: DO RESEARCH.
One future task that Edgcomb hopes to accomplish is creating a monthly individual check-in with his team. Through a monthly meeting, he’ll be able to stay attuned to how each employee feels working off the new benefits and bonus program. Edgcomb has also discovered that, in order to aim for a higher CSI and more bonuses for the team, he needs to have people in his front office that truly care about people.
paid time-off, but she says she does not offer competitive wages. Instead, she pays the best she can.
STEP 3: CONSIDER THE INTERESTS OF THE EMPLOYEES. Ask employees what values are important to them. An operator needs to pick a few from the suggestions that they’d be willing to offer.
Young notes that, for employers with less than 100 employees, medical benefits are going to be “age-banded,” which means they will cost less for a younger employee and more for an older employee.
MARCH 2020 | THE MSO PROJECT
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DJ MITCHELL GROW TH PL AN
Reflecting on Lessons Learned
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO REFLECT ON THE PAST YEAR AT YOUR SHOPS B Y DJ M I T C H E L L
At the end of every year, I reflect on the
lessons I’ve learned over the previous 12 months. And every business leader, no matter how successful, can always find ways in which they can improve. Anyone who feels they have nothing they can improve on, or that feels they didn’t learn any difficult lessons in the past year, simply isn’t being honest with themselves. Failures shouldn’t necessarily be
looked at as negatives, rather they should be viewed as building blocks from which we can all improve. Wins, on the other hand, should also be reflected upon. There may be a lesson in something good that happened to us, as well. One could argue the lessons we learn from our wins could be just as valuable as the lessons we learn from our losses. When I reflect on my 2019, there are
many lessons I learned. Some were minor, and some were more significant. But, no matter the size there was something to be learned from all of them. I had some things I learned that were more industry related, but many of them are of a more personal matter. Regardless, I feel that sharing from both sides may serve as a valuable tool to help anyone reading this reflect on themselves. MARCH 2020 | THE MSO PROJECT
“REFLECTING ON YOURSELF AND YOUR EXPERIENCE IS VITAL FOR GROWTH. … IT HELPS ME ADJUST AND LEARN.” DJ MITCHELL VICE PRESIDENT MITCHCO COLLISION REPAIR
As a business leader, what I’m reminded of many years is just how fast time can f ly. In 2019, my family sold Car Guys Collision Repair, I entered into a new role with Joe Hudson’s Collision Center, then moved on and set out to start building another brand with my father called MITCHCO Collision Repair. It seemed like just yesterday we were going through the closing of selling Car Guys Collision Repair, and all of a sudden over a year had come and gone. Although I enjoyed working with Joe Hudson’s Collision Center, I wish I would have slowed down some mentally to take in the transition. So many things happen when a company changes hands, and I found myself reacting a lot more than I wanted to. I wish I would have cherished the process more. Going through a major transition like that isn’t something most people get to be a part of. There are so many lessons to be learned, and so many unique experiences that occur during a major change. I learned a lot about our company, their company, our employees, and myself, but I feel that I could’ve learned some more valuable lessons if I would have slowed down and ref lected on what was happening while it was happening. 30
THE MSO PROJECT | MARCH 2020
I’m sure this isn’t the last time I’ll learn a lesson about how quickly time seems to move. In my personal life, I learned a lot about friendships and what they can mean all involved. I’m often very busy with work, thinking about work, and preparing for work. As a result, I don't go out often and I don't find myself with a ton of friends. But, I do have a group of friends that I have known for a very long time and we are very close. It is more of a quality over quantity thing with us. We make time to talk to each other everyday, even if it’s only for a few minutes. We discuss our work, our relationships, sports, or simply shoot the breeze. Some of our phone calls are very productive, and we help each
other through something or just act as a sounding board. During other calls, the main objective is just to relax and unwind. My close friends live anywhere from a 10-hour drive away from me to a 1-hour drive. But, by using the Bluetooth connections in our vehicles to talk during our commutes, FaceTiming on Friday evenings and having a beer together, or group messaging, we stay connected and manage to stay just as close as we were in high school or college. Having those types of relationships helps to serve as an outlet for stress, and it helps all of us work through things in our lives and make better decisions. As I grow older, I realize just how important those friendships really are. I truly think reflecting on yourself and your experience is vital for growth. Although I’m not always great at it, I try to frequently reflect on lessons learned. On the drive to work I may analyze my morning before I left the house. Maybe after a big meeting or a phone call at work I’ll try to spend a few minutes and analyze what happened right away. I feel this helps me to adjust and learn “on the f ly” instead of having a “Monday morning quarterback ” approach. I hope everyone had a solid 2019 and makes the most of 2020. Remember, we never get too old to stop learning from lessons and ref lecting. May 2020 be a year of immense success for all of you.
DJ MITCHELL is the vice president and co-owner of MITCHCO Collision Repair, a regional MSO in Florida. He also hosts a podcast for FenderBender’s The MSO Project. E M A I L : D J M I T C H E L L @J H C C . C O M
COURTESY DJ MITCHELL
DJMITCHELL / GROWTH PLAN
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