Thursday, 27 May 2010 18:58

PBE Jobber: Friend or Ally?

This month we begin a new column in Autobody News which we’re calling Jobber Journal. Our first columnist/contributor is Richard Arnold. In future months we’ll bring you additional opinions and invite contributions from readers.

In my many years of working with a major PBE Jobber in the Southeast, I have observed that many of their shop customers undervalue them. Granted, a small minority of their customers totally understood the value jobbers brought to their shop. Over time I watched how this small minority of shops communicated with the Jobber sales reps and tech reps and used their knowledge and experience to grow their businesses. All the while the large majority of customers just kept on doing the same bad things over and over and getting the same poor results. Albert Einstein called insanity the act of “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” I’m no Einstein, but I have to agree on his definition.

I believe a good PBE Jobber is a friend and ally. A PBE Jobber can be a shop’s best friend or vendor partner. I don’t mean “friend” because they give you the biggest discount on paint and materials. I mean “friend” in the true sense of the word. A true friend wants to see you succeed, prosper and be happy. The best PBE Jobbers want to see all of their customers succeed, prosper and be happy. When their shop customers do well, they do well. Make your Jobber your ally and partner.

The collision repair industry is changing at a faster pace now than ever before. New metals, waterborne coatings, lean production process, and multi-media marketing, just to name a few changes. A good relationship with your Jobber can pay big dividends. Consider them a member of your board of business advisors. Ask them for their thoughts and advice. Their answers may surprise and benefit you.

What if your shop could get one more repair job out per week or even increase the output by just one more RO per month? More work should equate to more profit. A good PBE Jobber team can help you increase your business. So instead of beating him up for more discounts, listen to what he is telling you about how to increase your business and productivity.

A good PBE Jobber has many value-added programs to help their shop customers succeed. Many programs are in coordination with the paint manufacturer(s) they represent and some are straight from their own minds and experience.

Most Jobbers are staffed by experienced and knowledgeable personnel who have worked in and around the collision repair industry for years. The one I worked for had a total combined work experience of over 1000 years. Why not tap that resource to your advantage? Just about any question you have related to your shop operation can usually be answered by your Jobber. If they don’t know the answer right away, a good Jobber will get the answer back to you.

They know how a shop operates and want to help you cut operating expenses and increase productivity. You just have to let them help you. Ask questions. My dad always told me:  the dumbest question is the one not asked. And yes, ask for your discount on paint and materials, but don’t make this the main issue. If you utilize your Jobber properly, the discount will be the last thing on your mind when you see the improved bottom line numbers.

According to the latest 2009 industry data, collision shops (including both DRP & non-DRP) spend on average $2500 per month just on paint. The average ticket (RO) is right at $2300. The average shop writes 19 estimates per week, converts 67% of them to actual jobs and performs 12 jobs per week.

What if a Jobber can show you how to go from 12 to 13 jobs per week? Or help you increase the closing percentage from 67% to 70% or higher? And what about upselling? How much could you increase your sales and profits if someone showed you the many different ways to increase each RO just by asking the customer the right questions? A good PBE Jobber can do all of this and more.

As the marketing guy for the Jobber I worked with, I often went on sales calls when a shop showed interest in improving their marketing efforts. As we all know, marketing for the majority of collision shops consists of an ad in the Yellow Pages. We also know the world is moving faster than a big, thick paper book is now.

According to the latest data, shops report that 77% of their business comes from word-of-mouth advertising and only 45% from their DRP. OK, I already admitted I’m no Einstein, nor brain surgeon, nor rocket scientist, but this statistic tells me a lot. When it comes to advertising, there is nothing better than a word-of-mouth recommendation from a satisfied customer. And you know something else? A good PBE Jobber can provide you with access to seminars and training that will show you how to improve your overall marketing strategy to increase word-of-mouth advertising which will in turn increase your sales and profits.

The average busy shop will see his Jobber sales representative about once a week and if you’re a really busy shop, probably more often. These visits from your Jobber are your (and your staff’s) opportunity to ask questions and tap this valuable resource. Anything you want to know about new products, new and better procedures, technical questions and more. And the Jobber sales rep can help in the front office, too. From improving your sales and marketing efforts to increasing your closing ratio and improving insurance relations; your Jobber can help your shop be the best at what it does.

We’re into baseball season now and I love my Atlanta Braves. Just as a major league baseball team tries to put together the best talent in spring training to hit the field in April to win it all, you’re always trying to make sure you have the best team possible at your shop to win, too. And when the owners/managers of a baseball team see they have a deficiency, they go out seeking additional talent to shore up where they are weak.

Think of your Jobber as a free agent talent just waiting to be called upon to help your team. Whether your shop is weak in production, painting, front-end office, sales, marketing or other areas, your Jobber has the experience and knowledge to help improve your team. Just like any great free agent in baseball, that talent does not come at a big discount. But, just like a big slugger or dominant closer will draw more fans to the ballpark and increase revenues for the baseball team, your Jobber is compensated by your increased purchases because your shop is growing and improving its bottom line profits.

So the next time your Jobber sales rep visits your shop, look at him like the ace hurler you picked up to be your closing pitcher. Make him feel welcomed in your clubhouse because you know he’s going to help you win. Utilize his talent and experience to the fullest. The Jobber is your friend and he can help make your shop a winner.

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