Most body shop marketing types know that well-written content is an important part of any successful marketing campaign. It’s like anything else, just doing it isn’t enough and content creation and management isn’t a “check box” type of thing.
For many years, body shops, from small independents all the way to massive MSOs, were reluctant to jump into the Internet game, hesitating to design top-notch sites, creating apps and committing to blogs for the long-term.
20 years ago in the collision repair industry (October 1995)
At the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) in Kansas City, Russ Verona of the Automotive Service Association (ASA) reiterated the association’s opposition to “PPO-type” insurance programs. PPO-type programs make discounted insurance policies available for vehicle-owners who agree to have any needed repairs made at a shop enrolled in the insurer’s direct repair program.
Just under 61 percent of shops surveyed said they are paid "always" or "most of the time" for removing coatings from pinchwelds prior to mounting the vehicle on a frame machine when it is required for the repair.
But industry trainer and consultant Mike Anderson said that percentage, from the latest "Who Pays for What?" survey results available now, isn’t high enough.
One of the most fascinating career experiences for me was also one of the most difficult. It was called a 360 Degree Evaluation. I thought maybe it was called a 360 Degree Evaluation because when the results were read aloud to me about my management performance, that’s how hot it felt in the room! In those days I was in auto body operations management for a large company that rightfully believed that a healthy culture involved giving all employees a voice. The price for this culture was of course that the employees had the opportunity to evaluate their managers, yikes! The benefit was powerful and has profoundly affected my leadership style to this day.
One of the items on my marketing to-do list for 2015 (January 2015 ABN) was entitled Get a Blog and I can’t take credit for it, but there are more body shop blogs out there now than ever in the collision industry. Four years ago, there were 156 million blogs in existence and today there are more than 180 million worldwide. Shops that didn’t even have web sites now have them complete with blogs that contain weekly posts, sometimes more. Blogs are no longer a fad or even a trend—no, they’re here to stay and gaining traction more and more as they stampede into the World Wide Web.
Attracting, training and retaining quality employees was among the topics tackled at this year’s NACE “MSO Symposium,” a half-day event in Detroit in July that focused on the needs of multiple shop operators (MSOs), as well as those who aspire to become an MSO.
Many body shops will use a piece of equipment, paint or other products in their shops on a trial basis before they decide to purchase them. They will use a computer management program to see if it truly works and if their staff is comfortable before integrating it into their day-to-day operations. But, why do some of these same body shops sign up and spend significant amounts of money with marketing companies before checking their references or even doing their basic due diligence?
It all started as a forum where painters, techs, estimators and anyone else working in the collision industry could vent, get advice, network and share ideas with each other on a national stage. Roughly six months ago, Marc Gabbard, owner of GSR Custom Collision Repair in Yakima, WA, was looking for a way to communicate with other technicians out there in the World Wide Web, so he decided to set up a Facebook page and named it Collision Repair Technicians United.
One of the great things about the collision industry is that so many people working at body shops have other talents and passions that they pursue when they’re not working as body techs, painters, estimators or front office personnel. I met a paint tech who is also a well-known tattoo artist, and a parts guy who is also a professional ballroom dancer. A woman who runs the front office for a shop in northern California sings opera, and the owner of a shop in the Southwest is a renowned muralist.
I often ask body shops, "What is your budget for marketing and advertising?" and they look at me like I just asked them to explain quantum physics (which I’ve learned is tougher than rocket science). You don’t need to come up with a complex algorithm to devise a budget, but once you see the numbers, you might not like them. The problem is that many body shop owners have had bad experiences with marketing or advertising and now they’re gun shy to say the least. In many cases, they made unwise decisions and now the word “marketing” turns their stomach. “Our Yellow Pages ad didn’t work,” one shop manager said. (Anyone could have told you it’s a dying medium)