Collision repair shop owners are mainly in the people business. The days of one-man shops are long gone. Every shop has employees, and most have technicians specialized in body, paint, structural and more. The typical shop owner came up through these ranks and is sufficiently knowledgeable about the details to hire competent workers. But marketing is different. Few shop owners come from a background in sales or marketing, and only fairly affluent shops can afford to hire personnel solely for marketing and sales. But that doesn't mean the need isn't there. To survive today every shop needs to bring in new customers and that means reaching out with sales and marketing. And it may mean that some employees have to do double duty. Generally that means estimators and front desk people, but it could include the parts guy and even some unusually communicative technicians.
You’ve decided to do some advertising—in your local newspaper, radio station, TV or cable station, but are wondering what can you say in your ads without getting into trouble? If your ad is effective, consumers will hopefully see it and/or hear it, but also remember—your competitors will too! Even though you have the best of intentions, if your advertisement is deemed false and misleading, it could become your worst nightmare.
Body shops and the collision industry in general have taken on the role of imparting useful safety information to its customers. If you’ve ever read a body shop blog, you will often find short posts like Leaving Kids Alone in Cars-Know the Risks and Consequences; I Put the Wrong Fuel in My Vehicle! What Should I Do? ; Tire Safety Tips and 3 Misconceptions about Passing on the Road, for example.
But isn’t there a conflict of interest there, because body shops make money when people get into accidents, right? Bruce Miles, a blogger for the collision industry disagrees.
Technology doesn’t stand still and that’s why no one was surprised when on April 21, Google, the planet’s leading search engine, released changes to their algorithm giving mobile-friendly websites a boost on devices with smaller screens. It seems like an obvious move, but change is always painful and website operators don’t like surprises, so many of them are allegedly shocked and perplexed.
Almost every shop owner I speak to tells me he or she wants more business. But when we start talking about business growth, I begin to hear reluctance. Too much growth means hiring more people, which means more paper work, more reports to the government, more insurance, and on and on. It also means more capital investment to cover additional equipment and to cover accounts receivable during the interval between the time parts are purchased and checks arrive for completed jobs. Everyone wants to grow in profitability, but very few want to face the costs and pains of growth.
20 years ago in the collision repair industry (June 1995)
Shop owners at the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) in Hawaii expressed concerns regarding the number of part vendors that are being listed on a single, insurer-generated estimate.
It was a panel discussion quite unlike any other in recent Collision Industry Conference (CIC) history, with panel members and CIC attendees questioning one another’s motivations and even clashing over what the topic of discussion was supposed to be.
“Well, that didn’t quite turn out as I expected,” CIC Chairman Randy Stabler said at the conclusion of the CIC “Parts and Materials Committee” panel discussion in Atlanta. “We’re going to circle around and try to ensure that we come up with content that’s more meaningful and effective.”
Has this ever happened to you? You have just returned from an amazing workshop that gave you a great idea on some new lean concept. Let’s say, how to meticulously disassemble a vehicle so that you can capture 100% of the damage at the beginning of the process. You are excited because your shop has been having too many problems on Friday afternoons with parts that were missed on the estimate and this new process of fully disassembling the vehicle will surely solve that! All that’s left to do is go back to your shop and announce to your staff that this is how we will be performing “teardowns” from now on.
20 years ago in the collision repair industry (May 1995)
Members of the Automotive Service Association (ASA) Collision Operations Committee are optimistic about “Service First,” an enhanced claims handling program introduced by State Farm. According to a State Farm news release, the pilot program was scheduled to be introduced in several states by mid-May. It would streamline auto damage claim handling and repair processes, allowing customers to go directly to qualified facilities for inspections and estimates without visiting State Farm drive-in claim service centers.
Collision repair association leaders from around the country met in Secaucus, N.J., in mid-March to share ideas and discuss state legislative or regulatory successes and efforts. The “2015 East Coast Resolution Forum,” an event sponsored by the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) and the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers (AASP) of New Jersey, was held in conjunction with AASP-New Jersey’s NORTHEAST 2015 trade show.