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Admittedly, the owner of a well-known 80-year-old body shop in Chicago was guilty of texting in his own vehicle himself for several years until he saw more than a few damaged cars in his shop caused by his customers’ lapses in attention while texting. Rather than ignore what is now an national epidemic that causes 1.6 million accidents annually, Bob Gottfred, the owner of Erie-LaSalle Body Shop, decided to start his own anti-texting campaign.
Erie-LaSalle Body Shop was founded in 1934 and over the years it has become a neighborhood institution in downtown Chicago. “We’re the longest continuously owned auto body of its kind in Chicago and Illinois,” Gottfred explained. “We now have a handful of third-generation customers coming in here and it’s great to hear their stories about when their grandfather or even great grandfather brought his car here decades before. Additionally, we have expanded our service area by acquiring a 30-year body shop on the southwest side of Chicago.”

Friday, 24 October 2014 00:00

Shop Thinks BIG for 26 Years

Stan Bard, owner of Fleet Refinishing and Collision Center in Fontana, CA, is celebrating 26 years of repairing and painting almost everything but the average passenger car.  The shop has changed its focus and moved its location several times since 1998, but in general the company’s emphasis is on big vehicles. The bigger the better is the motto, and their drive for success has given them nationwide recognition for painting and repairing RVs, commercial buses, heavy duty construction vehicles, delivery vans, big rigs, television trucks, food trucks, boats, sea containers and, last but not least, amusement park rides.

Some body shops swear by Angie’s List and call it the “Anti-Yelp,” but in the end, isn’t it just another advertising-based review system? If you’re not familiar with Angie’s List, it’s a paid subscription supported website containing crowd-sourced reviews of local businesses. They currently have 2.8 million paid members, although the company lost $1 million last year.

I was recently at a body shop that does amazing work, garners incredible customer reviews and skillfully fixes nearly 200 cars monthly.

Trade shows are huge right now and that’s why SEMA is more popular than ever. If you’ve ever attended one of these events, you know they’re frenetic, fun, packed full of things to do and your time is usually limited. So, that’s why we’re offering some invaluable tips about how to take full advantage of any trade show, but specifically the SEMA show in Las Vegas.

Since my recent column about how the returned phone call is a lost art, I received several emails and even some phone calls about the subject. It seems that unprofessional phone manners are rampant in all industries, including collision repair.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014 17:06

How to Market to Millennials

We’ve all heard the term but what exactly is a Millennial? Born between 1981 and 1996, Millennials are represented by 86 million people, which means they’ve outpopulated the Baby Boomer generation by seven percent. There are more 22-year-olds than 53-year-olds on the planet right now and by 2018 it is estimated that the Millennials will be outspending the Baby Boomers by a large margin.

I ran into someone at the 2013 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show who apologized profusely.

“I was meaning to call you back,” he said. “I know you left a message.”

“The one from 2012 or the one from 2013?” I inquired as nicely as I could.

Why don't people call each other back anymore? What is the psychology behind not returning phone calls? Do you have a group of friends or business associates in your life who will NEVER call you back, no matter what? The sad fact is that most of us do.

For many years, body shop owners in general weren’t enamored with the idea of hiring a company to design and develop their websites, thinking that they cost too much and would not bring enough new customers to their shops. But now most of those naysayers and doubters realize that a good, easy-to-read website that has intuitive navigation and is leveraged for searchability is a necessity, rather than a luxury. And that’s why companies such as Autoshop Solutions, an automotive website design and Internet marketing company based in Apex, NC, are flourishing.