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)
Fully one-third of collision repair shops nationwide said they have never asked to be paid for “masking the engine compartment” when this “not-included” procedure has been necessary as part of a repair, yet another one-third of shops who do seek to be paid for it say they receive that payment “always” or “most of the time.”
That finding is just one of hundreds revealed in a survey conducted recently by Collision Advice, which is also launching a new survey this month.
Across the country, collision repair industry training programs face jeopardy due to a lack of funding, and although it seems like summer just began, classes will be back in session in a blink of an eye. While students enjoy the beach and make memories in the sun, their instructors are already busy plotting how to provide the best possible technical education with limited budgets and resources. The Collision Repair Education Foundation (CREF) invites the industry to partner with their organization to ensure that the next generation of collision repair professionals graduate with the skills necessary to be useful to their future employers. Brandon Eckenrode, Director of Development for CREF, believes, "Together, we can make an impact on the fall semester and beyond!"
For those of you that are using your management system to measure your cycle time, congratulations! Too often, collision repair shops don’t measure their shop’s cycle time performance, instead allowing our insurance partners to measure it for us with questionable reliability. Much of the cycle time information that insurers use to measure & judge you by, is derived from rental car length of rental “LOR.” While this outside information can be useful, you are much better off using detailed cycle time measurements that will contribute to your shop’s continuous improvement.
Do you run your shop or does it run you? I spend many hours in collision repair businesses and unfortunately what I see is usually the latter. The collision repair businesses that are really getting it done these days take a systematic approach to success. Today’s article focuses on how successful shops own their days, their months, and financial future through the use of a simple daily system.