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.
Several years ago, Jim Young, 55 of Memphis, TN began a startup called My Business is a Wreck, a company he has described as a small team of passionate industry professionals delivering robust, reliable applications to the automotive industry.
To kick off 2015, we sat down with Jeff Peevy, the Senior Director of Field Operations and Segment Development at I-CAR®, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing the knowledge and skills required to perform quality repairs. Peevy leads a team of over 2,000 volunteers, instructors and field managers who team up to conduct over 15,000 instructor-led classes and certification in the U.S. each year. He also oversees the strategic development of I-CAR support and services for the “Repairer” market segment.
I am not afraid to admit it when I’m wrong. I never thought eBay would work and that’s exactly what I said to the company’s Founder Pierre Omidyar one day back in 1995 in San Jose, CA. He’s now a billionaire and I live in a van down by the river. And I had a chance to be one of the first employees at Netflix many years ago, but I opted out--because I could not believe that people would mail the discs back to the company. Bad move. So, last year when I said that Instagram and Twitter were going to trend down and that they weren’t ideal for the collision industry, well-that too was a mistake. Now I’m willing to do my mea culpa…once again.
Known as the Greenest Shop in the USA, Selecta Body Shop in San Francisco’s Mission District has received major praise, top reviews and now a prestigious award for running an environmentally responsible business.
You’ve done something you feel deserves attention, mainly from the local press, TV and radio stations and the general public as well. You want to get your message out there, but you don’t know how to put the words together, and more importantly, get it in the right peoples’ hands. Throughout my 30 years as a journalist, I’ve read literally thousands and thousands of press releases, most of which end up in the recycling bin—but why?
One of the main problems is that shops think everything they do is newsworthy, but unfortunately, editors and writers don’t agree. Press releases announcing your great cycle times, quality work, or how you landed another DRP aren’t going to make the front pages, or even the back cover, for that matter.
When body shop owners ask me how can we get started on marketing for our shop, I tell them to start off with baby steps and gradually build your efforts over time. Marketing for any business is like chopping down a huge tree and the average small company does not have the means or money to knock it down with one full swoop. Imagine that marketing is like a big old Redwood tree and you’re sitting there with a little pen knife, but if you keep hacking away at it, eventually you’ll see results.
La Cara and Marice Washington and their children with their Hyundai Sonata donated by Gerber Collision and Enterprise Rent-A-Car.
Giving cars to the needy is a perfect and proven way for the collision industry to give back. Most of the time, body shops and insurance companies work together to fix cars and return them back to their owners.
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.”
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.