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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)

There are two ways to promote your shop: 1.) Advertising and 2.) Marketing. Advertising is when you buy space or time or impressions and you pay a fee for the exposure. Marketing is an enormous category that includes product marketing, branding, re-branding and a whole list of other things that are used to hopefully bring you new business while strengthening your position in your market.

For many years, body shops have not been able to precisely quantify how much adhesive they are using on each particular repair. By basically guessing and operating in the dark when it comes to figuring out the volume used to perform plastic repair and related procedures, shops have not been getting properly reimbursed from the insurance companies, in many cases.

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.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015 00:00

resqme Vehicle Escape Tool Saves Lives

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.

Body shop owners as a rule are adept at studying and interpreting all kinds of numbers and statistics, and that’s why the successful ones are very good at tracking their performance. They calculate each minute that goes into every vehicle and what exactly their profit will be at the end of each day. They know how to read Excel sheets and decipher the numbers and use them to refine their processes. It’s in their DNA and in a fast-moving, high-production environment having useful numbers at your disposal is vital.

“Tell them once and then tell them again,” an old ad executive told me years ago, long before the Internet, web sites or applications existed. And it still pertains today, because although marketing and advertising change almost daily, the main concept behind branding is still the same.

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