Saturday, 30 April 2005 10:00

Faithful presence in one location has its rewards

Written by Dick Strom

Cleveland Ohio Coalition for Collision Repair Excellence (CCRE) member, Paul Rieman owns and operates Lakewood Auto Body, Inc. in the same existing building and business he bought in 1977. Rieman's long-standing and faithful presence in this community has had its rewards. 

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Describing his location as "the far west-side suburbs of Cleveland," Rieman's only advertising is through the free one-line listing in his local phone directory. He states, "I've tried cable advertising, but it's too cost-prohibitive to be profitable. We do quite well with nothing but word of mouth advertising."

No stranger to collision repair, Rieman started out working in others' shops in 1973. "In those days most of our work was rust repairs and completes. But in 1982 I attended ARMS seminars, where I learned I could run a more profitable shop if I got away from the rust and concentrated on collision repair. Presently, we still do some restorations along with typical collision repair. We've also tried detailing work, but have decided against expanding into it."

Overcoming adversity

"In 1980 they closed the bridge near my shop, cutting off most of my business. This was devastating in that it cut us down from eight employees to only two. Though we're still in the same well-established location, the number of our employees has increased with our workload."

He continues, "Though I've been a member of both ASA and SCRS for years, I've dropped out of these because of their non-representation of the core needs of this industry… they sold us out. In their place I joined the CCRE because CCRE is a group of dedicated individuals that is effectively showing shops how to become their own masters again, and take back the collision repair industry from insurance control.

"In the direction this industry is presently going, it is doomed because of insurer interference, targeting and boycotting of shops, and torturous interference in shops' business. All smart shop operators need to band together to demand that insurers remove their presence from the repair industry. Shop owners need to concentrate on dealing with their real customer - the consumer, not the insurer - supporting the consumer fully, and conducting business based each vehicle owner's needs. Consumers need to be made accountable and educated by the shop so they receive what they are entitled to in repairs. Until shop owners become businessmen, and force this issue with insurers, nothing will change for the good of consumers or the repair industry.

"It is my opinion that one of the worst problems we face is new car dealers who pay their managers based on dollar volume. Their shop manager will take any car at any price to make a quick buck. He will throw his techs and the car owner under the bus to get in good with insurers. What this industry needs is a program, such as ARMS, developed and sold to dealer associations so they can see what they are doing to themselves and other shops. The idea of taking a loss on every job and making it up in volume is incredibly stupid.

Like-minded business people

"CCRE is the best source of like-minded business people that I have ever found. The practice of educating shop owners, managers, and techs through programs like those that CCRE put on this year at their Annual Convention, as well as the volume of tried and true knowledge discussed daily on CCRE's webpage Discussion Boards, further educates member shops in making business decisions that will make them the most profit, and keep them out of legal problems. CCRE is all about educating and encouraging shops to conduct business independent of insurers."

The CCRE calls itself a pure collision repair industry effort, representing the interests of collision shop owners operating as independent business entities, empowering them to successfully challenge the mandated use of inferior crash parts, decline to do improper repairs, and pursue legal remedies for illegal job "steering." Contact via correspondence to: theCCRE, PO Box 60007, Reno, Nevada 89506; phone Lou or Dana at (877) 700-7743; e-mail: CCREoffice@aol.com; or visit www.theCCRE.com .