With many state legislatures winding down for the summer or year, collision repairers are wondering what some newly-passed laws will mean for them.

I-CAR leaders, during the training organization’s annual meeting in Orlando, Florida, in late July, openly explained that the past year had been a tough one financially, but also pointed to a number of accomplishments as well as plans for the future that they believe will turn things around for the non-profit.

Collision repair shops regularly decry the practice by some insurers of denigrating one shop in order to influence a consumer to select a shop in that insurer’s direct repair program (DRP). But could that DRP shop be found to be engaged in an unfair trade practice based on that insurer’s behavior? 

Friday, 30 November 2007 17:00

NACE Faces Changes in Future

Attendees at the 25th annual International Autobody Congress and Exposition (NACE) in Las Vegas in early November may not have known it, but they were witnessing the last NACE in its current form.

Friday, 30 November 2007 17:00

SF Parts Procurement Program

Prior to State Farm launching a test of an electronic parts procurement program with its Select Service shops in San Diego, an insurer spokesman said the company is considering what role it can play in streamlining other aspects of collision repair claims.

Ask Bob Sipos of Chardon Square CARSTAR in Chardon, Ohio, how his shop is doing, and he can quickly rattle off a slew of current statistics that go far beyond monthly sales: productivity per technician, paint booth cycle time, gross profit per hour, sales per stall or per square foot. 

Two of the country's largest suppliers of re-manufactured alloy wheels say they support the development of industry standards for such wheels. Speaking at the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) in Las Vegas, Nevada, in November, Roger McClellan, vice president of sales and marketing for Transwheel Corp., said his company believes such standards are an "effective way to promote the industry and ensure the safety and satisfaction of consumers."

About 40 people from around the country - representing shops, insurers and industry vendors - met in Chicago in early May to focus on one issue: the image of the collision industry.

The Collision Industry Conference (CIC) grappled with key issues facing collision repairers, including insurer steering and the ever-increasing number of third party claims administrators, when participants gathered in San Diego for CIC's annual January planning meeting.

Hank Tarter jokes that if you're going to have a heart attack, the place to be is Keizer, Oregon, a community of 35,000 residents just north of Oregon's capitol city of Salem.

"That's because one of the civic group's recent fund-raisers that we helped with here put defibrillators in every Keizer police car," says Tarter, owner of Tarter's Keizer Collision Center, who took an active role in making the fund-raising effort successful.

Tarter believes in giving back to the community in which he lives and does business, and is regularly involved with Rotary and Chamber of Commerce auctions, raffles and other efforts to raise money for community projects. His shop, which employs 15 people, also sponsors Little League and high school sports.

"You do it, first and foremost, because you like doing your civic duty, doing something for the community where you've lived for 27 years, and I do enjoy that," Tarter says. "Otherwise, it's too easy to get caught up in your own world and your day-to-day stuff."

And while Tarter's efforts may be unique among collision repair shop owners in his town, it's not hard to find shop owners around the country doing similar things for their communities.

"It doesn't take too long in talking with just a few shop owners, managers and technicians to realize this is a very giving industry," says Chuck Sulkala, executive director of the National Auto Body Council.

Shops paint trucks for kids

Gigi Walker is another shop owner who has found a way to make a difference in the lives of children and families in her community.

Walker, owner of Walker's Auto Body in Concord, California, participates each fall in a friendly competition - among shops in the East Bay Chapter of the California Autobody Association, including Mike's Autobody also of Concord - to customize models of tractor-trailers.

"Usually about a dozen East Bay area shops participate, and each has about two and a half months to customize their truck," Walker said. "Some of the shops put hundreds of hours into these trucks. Then in November we get together for a big dinner and auction. The trucks get auctioned off for anywhere from $200 to $1,000 each."

While the silent auction is taking place, the fancy paint jobs and other customizing work done on the trucks are judged by a 3-person panel that generally includes a local artist and a local or state government official. At the end of the evening, all of the funds raised through the auction are presented to uniformed Marines who attend on behalf of the Toys for Tots charity.

"We had about 250 people at the dinner last year, and we ask each of them to bring a new toy to donate as well," Walker said. "A lot of people bring more than one, so this last year in addition to the $4,000 we raised, Toys for Tots received 300 to 400 toys as well.

"It's really a one-of-a-kind event," Walker said. "It really brings our industry together and lets our techs showcase their stuff - in a small way, but for a great cause."

Donating a repaired car

Brad Shelton said that several years ago Akzo Nobel brought him an idea for another way he could give back to his community - and he's been giving a car away to a needy family every year since.

"I like to give back to people and try to help people out. That's just kind of my nature," said Shelton, owner of Shelton Collision Repair in Derby, Kansas. "I felt like this was a fantastic opportunity."

A growing list of Acoat selected shops in the U.S. and Canada participate in the Akzo Benevolence Program by repairing a vehicle to give to a family in need each December. The shops generally work with a charitable organization in their community to select a family in need of reliable transportation.


"I ask the two charities I work with to narrow it down to two or three families, because the first year I was given the stories of 10 or 12 families, and reading what these people had been through made me want to give 10 cars away," Shelton said.

He said his vehicle donations generally go to women with children trying to get their lives back in order after leaving abusive relationships. In addition to the vehicle, he invites other businesses and individuals to donate other items on the family's "wish list."

"Last year, we had about $2,000 in other items with the car, including a washer and dryer that we delivered and installed," Shelton said. "I use the cash donations to maybe give a money order payable to their landlord, or gift cards for gas, and maybe a small amount of cash to the mom so she can buy a Christmas gift or two for her kids that's 'from her.'"

Akzo's Chris Donnelly said he has worked to increase the number of shops participating in the program which he based on an effort started in 1994 by Dave Adams of Dave Adams Classic Auto Repair in Orem, Utah. Donnelly said shops are often able to find vendors to donate necessary parts, a mechanical shop to provide oil changes for the vehicle for a year, and an insurance agent who will donate liability coverage for several months or a year. He said many technicians decide to do the work without pay to help the cause.

Like Shelton, many of the shop owners involved in the program put their own unique spin on it. Some have gotten insurers or salvage yards to donate the vehicle. In Florida, a group of shops works together to repair and give away vehicles.

Joe Lewright of Ellis & Salzar, a shop in Austin, Texas, worked with a local Head Start program to establish a "responsible parent of the year" program, in which the winner receives the vehicle. He works to make sure the donation to the family includes bicycles for the kids "so the parents aren't the only ones that get wheels that day."

Procare Automotive & Collision in San Antonio, Texas, was actually invited to present its car to a family on the local "Good Morning, San Antonio" television show. After the broadcast, the producer of the show said the station's phones lit up with calls from viewers saying how much they appreciated and were touched by the show of generosity.

That kind of positive publicity is great for the shop and the industry, Shelton said, but it isn't why he participates in the program.

"You can't believe the feeling that overcomes you when you're doing this, when you know you're impacting somebody's life so much," he said. "I've even thought the last couple years about not publicizing it, because I don't like to draw attention to myself. But I've decided it doesn't do it justice to keep it secret, because it's really a nice story, a Christmas story. I make it public to let people know there are people out there who like to help. And it makes your employees look and feel good, seeing that you do the right thing, that you all give back to the community, that you try to help people."

Shop focuses on "safe kids"

At the Pace Auto Group in Huntington, Indiana, for example, looking out for the safety of children has become part of the daily life of the dealership's collision repair center.

"We began by doing bicycle rodeos through the shop just to give something back to the community," said Jeff Rice, manager of the shop. Each child was fitted with a new bicycle helmet after watching a 15-minute video on bike safety. They could then practice their new skills on a fenced-in bicycle "obstacle course" with instructors coaching them on such things as obeying stop signs and watching for cars.

"I think at our first event we gave out about 100 helmets," Rice said. "But we had 300 calls that first year for kids to sign up. So the next year we offered it to 200, and we did that for about four years, giving away 200 bicycle helmets every year."


The shop is now among the most active participants in the "Safe Kids" program, checking for proper installation of child safety seats in cars and replacing seats that are found to have problems.

"We see somewhere between 30 and 40 people a month to do car seat inspections and installations," Rice said. "If the safety seat is bad, we give the parents a brand new seat at no charge."

Some of the funding for the 400 to 500 car seats Pace gives away each year comes from foundation grants and local donations. Becoming certified to participate in the program and train vehicle-owners on proper car seat installation required Rice to attend training over a 5-day period.

The company now has a written policy to inspect all car seats in vehicles that come through the shop.

"Once we've helped a customer get their car seat installed properly or given them a new car seat, they're our customer for life," Rice said. "But the main thing is we're helping to save the lives of kids in our community. It's hard not to feel really good about that."

Helping the image

Sulkala, who leads the National Auto Body Council's efforts to improve the image of the collision industry, says that folks like Tarter, Shelton, Walker, Rice and others involved in such efforts to give back to their community make his job easier.

"They're demonstrating what those of us in the industry know but that we need to make sure the general public sees and understands," Sulkala said. "And that's that this industry is made up of great and kind and generous individuals who through their efforts in their own shops and communities make us a very giving industry."

John Yoswick is a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon, who has been writing about the automotive industry since 1988.

Thursday, 08 May 2008 11:15

California SB 1059: Consumers to the Rescue

Written by Richard Steffen

While I can load up with reasons why Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger won’t okay collision repair legislation opposed by the insurance industry, I’d prefer to focus on what it would take for him to overturn the wishes of insurers who do business in California. The short answer is “consumers.” And while I’m at it, let me add that “consumers” are the answer to stopping unfair insurer practices in collision repair settlements.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008 13:59

Steffen --- Steering Wars

Written by Richard Steffen

Insurers, including their lobbyists, excel at steering. Insurance agents send claimants to DRPs while insurer lobbyists direct “neutral parties” (legislators and staff) to points of law that have nothing to do with the harm caused by steering. For example, I recently spoke to a consultant for a state legislator who asked me why the CRA would sponsor a bill (SB 1167) that was unconstitutional. When I asked her how she arrived at her legal opinion, she cited a United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision that struck down a Texas law that she was told was similar to SB 1167. Her source of information was an insurance lobbyist. She’d been steered by one of the best.

Monday, 18 February 2008 12:11

Steffen -- The CRA Sets a Course of Action for 2008

Written by Richard Steffen

The Collision Repair Association of California’s sponsorship of a proposed new state law on aftermarket parts (see cover story this issue) is the latest in a series of actions aimed at helping repairers throughout the state in 2008. The bill, SB 1059, by State Senator Carole Migden (D-San Francisco), simply makes it an unfair business practice for an insurer to require installation of aftermarket parts on a vehicle under factory warranty.
But, as with any CRA effort, there is much more than words on paper. In brief, SB 1059 is part of the association’s strategy to restore contract power to the repairer.
I like the perspectives of CRA board member John Tyczki, J&M Auto Body, San Diego, who says “If a majority of policyholders knew they had the right to select their own repair shop and if they understood that some shops practice quality repairs while others are forced to meet lower standards, the high quality shops would do well.”
I talk to legislators and their staff three to four days per week. Their insights, or lack of them, are eye-openers when it comes to the collision repair process. Some of them believe the repair contract is between the policyholder and the insurer — the repairer simply does the work as dictated by the insurer.

Thursday, 12 March 2009 17:22

McClune---California Autobody Association Board Meeting Kicks Off 2009

Written by David McClune

The California Autobody Association held its first quarter board of directors meeting on Saturday, February 21 in Buena Park, CA.

Monday, 03 March 2008 16:54

McClune --- CAA looks forward in 2008 - The CAA Annual Legislative Day

Written by David McClune

The California Autobody Association (CAA) is coming off a very good year and is ready for the challenges of 2008. Already we have seen that this year will be just as active as last year. 2007 was a year that the CAA met our membership goals of over 100 new members and we are projecting that 2008 will be an even better year for membership and accomplishments. One of the most important parts of our association is the hard work our volunteers dedicate to the success of our state chapters. The CAA currently has nineteen active chapters throughout California which includes three new active chapters, Bakersfield, Ventura, and San Fernando Valley. Our chapters hold regular meetings that include updated information and presentations on our industry that is vital to the success of these businesses.

We never had DRP relationships and have heard horror stories about them. But some days it seems we need to become a DRP shop just in self-defense. How do you make the decision?

Thursday, 28 January 2010 11:52

Bottom Shocker: True Mechanical Humor from Gonzo Weaver

Written by Gonzo Weaver

Here is a true story from my book, HEY LOOK! I FOUND THE LOOSE NUT, that might spark your interest.

A customer called [my auto electric shop] and said he just purchased a car from the police auction, but it had some sort of strange noise coming from the driver’s side electric seat. It seems every time he moved it there was a strange electrical sound. He thought there was something wrong with the seat motor.

He was coming to me, an auto electric technician, to get it fixed.

“Sure,” I said. “What kind of car is it?”

“It’s a Peugeot,” he answered.

I’m not much on Peugeots, but I told him I could take a quick look at it and see if I could do anything for him.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009 09:12

White --- Dealing with a Business Slowdown

Written by Rick White

In the current economy you have two basic choices. You can agree with the naysayers and believe that there will be a couple years of recession to ride out, it is going to get worse, and there is nothing you can do—or you can decide to ignore the recession and take positive steps to maintain and grow your business. That’s right, I said ignore the recession… let me explain why.
    When you started your business how many people told you it wouldn’t work, you shouldn’t do it? Did you listen to them? NO! You rolled up your sleeves and built a business of which you are very proud. It’s time for you to revisit the basics.

1. Metrics

a. Know Your Metrics
A metric is an indicator of how your business is progressing. Some great indicators are number of calls, invoice count (car or unit count), sales, gross profit, hours per repair order, parts to labor ratio and customer satisfaction.

b. Monitoring Your Metrics
Monitor your metrics more frequently and review your progress more often than usual. Think of it as zooming in on the detail. Look at things by the week instead of the month or by the month instead of the quarter. Don’t wait for the results to play out, look early and often to allow for proactive course corrections to keep your business on target.

2. Customer Service

Now more than ever, provide excellent customer service. Who determines the level of your service? Your customer does! Ask them how you are doing and what can you do even better to help them during this difficult time. And then respond accordingly within reason to meet their concerns. By all means let all customers that gave you feedback know what changes you are making to help them out.

3. Employees

We are seeing more and more questions about employee engagement during this economic downturn. People are nervous, scared and unsure right now, including your employees. It is your job to keep your employees positive, helpful, focused on the customer and results oriented. No matter how hard you plan, layoffs may be necessary but don’t make the mistake of laying people off too soon. Remember that this recession will end and people are hard to find, especially trained people who know your business. Instead entertain the idea of temporarily cutting back on wages and/or reducing hours per week with the entire staff (including you).

4. Be Profitable

Make sure your business model is a profitable one now! Too many times we start coaching a client to find that their business is geared up for a level of business they haven’t yet achieved causing them to make at best minimal profit and more likely lose money. Don’t grow to profit…be profitable now! Review your business model and staffing to ensure profitability at your current level of business. Then develop a plan to increase your volume and add staffing as volume requires.

5. Cash Flow

Cash is king! Make sure you’re not spending more than is coming in. Take your fixed costs (expenses plus technician wages if paid hourly or salary) and divide the amount by the number of days open in the month. This is your daily breakeven amount. You need to generate at least that amount in gross profit every day to stay positive. It won’t take long when you dip below your breakeven amount to start losing capital and, if unchanged, possibly going under.

6. Marketing

“Good times, bad times, there will always be advertising. In good times people want to advertise; in bad times they have to.”
 —Bruce Barton (1886–1967)

The first expense cut is typically the marketing or advertising budget. This is the worst place to cut back. In the short term there is no adverse effect, in the long term it is disastrous. We recommend reviewing where the marketing budget is being spent and measuring the results. Every piece of marketing should include a call to action; small businesses shouldn’t be trying to build a brand. Marketing that isn’t bringing in an acceptable return should be reworked or scrapped in favor of other avenues. Your marketing budget should be 8% of sales minus rent to maintain your current volume of business and 10% of sales minus rent to grow your business.

7. Think Outside the Box

Don’t follow the herd mentality and wait for outside circumstances to change your business. After speaking with customers, use their feedback to improve your operation (within reason of course). Separate yourself from your competition, making it a no-brainer knowing where to bring a vehicle for repairs. Is a dealer closing in your area? Prepare an ad that positions you as the repair solution for that particular carline. Is an independent closing? Call the owner and offer to purchase his customer list and develop a letter together you can send to his customers. Create non-competing strategic alliances. Is there a business that you frequent that has customers that would value what you have to offer? Would your customers value what he has to offer? Develop a letter that he sends to his customers recommending you with some type of offer extended. Return the favor by sending a letter recommending him to your customers.
    Look at other industries for ideas that can add value and help build your business. The best advice that I can pass along to you is that you should develop a plan with a crystal clear desired result and then ACT on it! Don’t get stuck on working the original plan until it produces the results. The plan may need to be modified along the way to get the desired result. But the result stays the same. Waiting until you have the “perfect” plan is not possible and ill-advised. You will never think of everything. As Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “The plan is useless, but planning is essential.”

8. Attitude

Attitude is so important, especially now. It is vital to your business that you stay positive. Be realistic but don’t let fear take hold. With steadfast determination you will get through this current season of challenge and come out on the other side stronger. You need to feed your attitude daily by reading books on positive attitude.

9. Get Help

There are times when a business owner can’t see the forest through the trees. A business coach can be a great investment providing an objective viewpoint, help ground the owner focusing him on what is important and developing next action steps. This process allows you to determine your goals and needs and then build an action plan for getting to your desired results.

Rick White is a managing member of One Eighty Business Solutions (180BIZ), a Virginia based coaching and business solutions provider to the automotive and truck repair industries. For more information, email info@180biz.com or call (540) 833-2014.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009 09:09

Momber -- Win Customers And Influence People With Some Website Extras

Written by Joe Momber

Web sites can be a very powerful tool to help customers say YES to your businesses. More and more people make buying decisions as a result of research done on the Internet.
    You don’t have to look beyond the attention given to automotive spending by companies like Google to see how important web presence is to automotive-related consumer spending. Automotive was, by far, Google’s best performing category in the third quarter of 2009, largely on the back of the government’s “Cash for Clunkers” program.
    Nikesh Arora, Google’s president of global sales operations and business development, said he still believes U.S. auto spending is poised for growth, largely because of the age of U.S. fleet and the shift of dollars to the web.
    But many collision shops still don’t have a Web site at all, which is a huge mistake, says former shop owner David Moore, founder and president of CollisionBuilder.com, a Web site design firm. According to Moore, more than 80 percent of consumers between the ages of 33 and 54 research online before they buy a product or service, so if you have no online presence you could be missing opportunities.
    “They don’t realize how vital a Web site is,” Moore says. “I consider the Web site to be the foundation of any good marketing program.”
    If you own a colision repair shop and plan to be in business 5 years from now, you need to invest time creating or reviewing your business website. You should also check out business websites outside of the collision repair industry because you’ll get fresh ideas.
    Also, just because the web is a relatively new tool, doesn’t mean you don’t need to remember time-tested basic principles of marketing. Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People is one of the bestselling self-help books ever and is just as useful today as it was when it was first published in 1936. It has sold 15 million copies globally. Cargengie’s book and courses teach basic common sense techniques to help people win friends and influence others. The same techniques apply to the web today. Your website can use the same simple and common sense approach to make it easy for potential customers to say YES to your collision repair shop.
    Few people take the time to research a collision repair shop in advance. Your web site must gain the trust of visitors, quickly and easily. How might you get some great ideas and exposure at the same time?
    Look around. High school students are very web savvy these days. Invite some students and their teachers to help you. Give them a tour of your shop explaining the entire process of repairing a car. Show them your equipment and how it works. Explain how the procedures your shop takes to be environmentally friendly. Explain the challenges with aftermarket parts vs OEM parts. Explain the challenges you encounter with insurance companies. Invite the students to bring their high tech cameras and video recording technology so they can then share the information with others so as to allow input from lots of people. Most high schools have a student newspaper and of course they would be invited to cover the event.
    You might invite the students to find a worthy cause to help in this project. Possibly there is someone in the community such as a wife and family of a veteran in Afghanistan and they have a car in need of repair. Possibly there is someone in the local community that is experiencing a financial hardship and their car needs some dents fixed and a paint job. If you invite some enthusiastic young people to get involved in a project that will help someone in their local community, there will be payback.
    Figure out a way for everyone to win. As the project progresses post the progress on your site. Include lots of photos of those helping you.  With a little imagination and enthusiasm you can see how someone can take an idea like this and position themselves very favorably in the community. Doing so will result in terrific exposure for your business. Your employees will be excited and proud to be part of the experience.
    Some good sites I’ve come across that might serve as examples are the following: Joe’s Collision, Body Work & Detailing in Dallas, TX has a great looking site. One look at it gives an immediate impression of high quality professional work. It’s easy to read. It’s got a great colors and powerful testimonials with very professional photos. Check it out at www.joescollisionanddetailing.com.
Len’s Auto Body in Oceanside, CA,  has an impressive site with logos from equipment manufactures as well as I-CAR and ASE giving visitors a feeling that it’s a shop that can be trusted to do high quality work. When a visitor clicks on “Shop Tour” a slide presentation begins and shows a variety of photos of his shop and equipment. He also includes a photo of his custom PT Cruiser advertising his shop which is another very creative method of gaining additional consistent exposure. He’s taking advantage of the popularity of that vehicle plus the custom paint job to draw attention to his business. His web site is a nice clean easy to use site that creates a favorable impression to visitors. Visit his site at www.lensautobody.com.
    Daland Body Shop of South San Francisco is another excellent example. This website also has a video that begins playing as soon as the site is clicked on. I tend to favor site that use the video technology.  Video is the next best thing to an owner telling a potential customer the selling points. The thing is though a video never has a bad day, it’s never tired and it’s available to give that same enthusiastic and professional message 24 hours a day. Visit this site at: http://daland-autobody.com
    Don’t overlook the importance of appealing directly to female customers. There’s good evidence that women are in the majority of collision repair customers. Certainly they control the largest share of a family’s budget. There are companies that cater directly to shops by helping to make them more female friendly, such as AskPatty.com, which brands sites as female friendly. See http://femalefriendlydealer.askpatty.com/?d=Js_Auto_Body, for example.
    “Up until now, like many automotive businesses, we thought the obvious goal was to ensure that women were treated the same as men. Through the AskPatty program, we’ve learned that treating women the same as men does not necessarily yield the [best] experience for women. This may not sound profound, but with an increased awareness of what elements women seek in a positive automotive servicing experience, our service centers are better prepared to meet and exceed the expectations of our female customers” stated Mark Kim, Operations Manager, J’s Auto Body, in Lanham, MD.
    With just a little imagination it’s easy to see how a project like this could be a lot of fun for everyone involved. Above all, don’t be afraid to experiment.


It’s very easy to be negatively influenced by the news—if you don’t have a plan to remain positive. I used to look forward to watching the nightly news. I used to listen to the news while driving my car. I used to watch the news before going to sleep. But for quite a while now, I’ve made a conscious decision to listen and watch less TV and radio news. I simply will not watch the news before going to sleep. I know that whatever is on my mind before I drift of to sleep is what my subconscious mind focuses on.
    I’ve also learned to develop strategies to interrupt myself when feeling stuck in my daily activities. For example, I’ll tell myself “Inch by inch it’s a cinch. Yard by yard is sometimes hard.” This message reminds me that sometimes it’s helpful to slow down and accept that progressing slowly and consistently is better than trying to force quick and instant results. When I say this to myself I generally smile, lighten up, let go, and feel better. When I feel better I’m more optimistic and more inclined to persist.
    I grew up on a farm and driving tractors. When I was plowing a field in preparation of planting crops a lower gear was used to maintain a high rpm rate.
    Planting the crop required far less power so the tractor was always in a higher gear with lower rpm. Just reminding myself of this helps me readjust my focus to a more optimistic state.
    I find it helpful to have funny stories in my memory. For example I remember reading a story about a therapist who would often listen to people talk in length about their problems. He would offer a solution and often the response to his solution was “Well, that just wouldn’t be me.” After hearing this response numerous times over the years he decided he had to come up with a response that would interrupt the patient’s pattern and kind of shock them into action. Finally he came up with something he felt confident would do the job.
    A person he’d been seeing for a few months told the same old familiar story. The therapist suggested a solution. The patient responded with “That just wouldn’t be me.” The therapist calmly replied with “Why be yourself when you could be somebody really worthwhile?”
    Now I don’t recommend insulting patients, clients, or customers to improve your business, but the point is that interrupting your pattern is a way to break out of an old and destructive habit.             When I read that story I could relate to the patient. The response from the therapist caused me to smile and realize that whining and making excuses cheated me of the opportunity to grow and mature. I like to use as much humor as possible to cause growth and improvement in my life. Life is too short to take it seriously.
    Then there’s the story of the young man who traveled far into the mystical mountain in search of a guru to get advice. After many days of walking and climbing mountain trails he finds the guru.
    He asks the guru “How can I find enlightenment?” The guru responds by telling the young man to follow him to the river. When they get to the river the guru tells the young man to bend over and then proceeds to push the young man’s head under water. Immediately the young man begins to run out of air and begins to thrash about. The more he thrashes about the more forcefully the guru holds his head under water. Finally, after what seems an eternity, the guru lets go of the young man’s head. The young man lifts his head out of the water gasping for air with a look of bewilderment on his face and asks the guru why he held his head underwater for so long. The guru responded by asking the young man what he desired most when his head was held under water. The young man replied “Air.”
    The guru replied “When you desire enlightenment as much as you desire air, you’ll have it.”
    We all have enough stress and adversity in life. Developing fun ways to lighten up and laugh at myself works for me. If anything I’ve shared works for you please use it.
    One last thing….do you know how to spell guru? Gee You Are U!
Sunday, 30 September 2007 17:00

Loftus -- When No One Can Be Trusted, Do not Drink the Water

Written by Sheila Loftus

I don’t trust anyone anymore.

Everything seems to be either poisonous or falling apart. And I’m not talking only about products made in China. On behalf of my four train-owning grandchildren, I have returned 19 Thomas the Train engines because of lead in the paint. Nothing ruins a play date more than a toxic toy.

Friday, 31 August 2007 17:00

Loftus --- The Great Divide: Who is the Customer?

Written by Sheila Loftus

In bowling, when two pins on either side of the alley are left standing after the first roll, it is called a split. Do you know how difficult it is to knock down both pins when you have the most difficult split? Less likely than making a hole-in-one in golf.

Friday, 31 August 2007 17:00

Penn --- Medicine and Collision Repair: Industries Need Rx

Written by Juliet Penn

I recently attended the Fourth Annual World Health Care Congress in Washington, D.C. The draw was keynote speaker Michael Porter, a chaired professor at Harvard University and the leading authority on competitive strategy.

Monday, 02 July 2007 14:57

Back to basics: the customer wants the insurer to take the pain away

Written by Sheila Loftus

Fix it right the first time, every time, on time.

Wednesday, 31 January 2001 17:00

An elephant in your shop

Written by Tom Slear

Rick Tuuri, director of industry relations for ADP, recently laid out what he believes to be the worst-case scenario given the incursion of the electronic claims processing companies, the dotcoms, into the collision repair industry: 

Friday, 31 August 2001 17:00

A sure-fire way to generate referrals and repeat business

Written by Tracy Bains

This is a "huge secret" that can lead to tons of repeat business and referrals! Stay in touch. Stay in front of your client's faces! 

Friday, 31 August 2001 17:00

Those damn refrigerator magnets

Written by Tom Slear

Uh oh, I feel the urge coming on, that compelling need to predict. All this talk about insurance companies owning body shops and no one answering the salient question: What will Allstate's purchase of Sterling lead to? What will be the outcome in five or 10 years? 

Wednesday, 31 October 2001 17:00

As crazy as a bedbug - or is it a peach orchard squirrel?

Written by Tom Slear

In 1999, when I last looked in on the Texas political scene, it was in the process of meltdown, as least as it relates to the collision repair industry.

Wednesday, 31 October 2001 17:00

The Importance of Benchmarking (or Who Cares How I Did Yesterday !)

Written by Tim Ronak

Bench-mark n. surveyor's mark at point in line of levels; standard or point of reference. 

Friday, 30 November 2001 17:00

How does your shop stack up by the numbers?

Written by Tim Ronak

So how does your Collision Repair business stack up financially or managerially against other facilities in the industry or even locally? Last issue of Autobody News I discussed the value of Benchmarking and alluded to how you could use that information to: 

Monday, 31 December 2001 17:00

The all spin zone

Written by Tom Slear

With my apologies to Bill O'Reilly, let me welcome you to the All Spin Zone, where nothing exists but message manipulation. The idea is to get you thinking it's nighttime when the sun is shining; Tuesday when the calendar says Wednesday. 

Tuesday, 31 July 2001 17:00

Would you rather send your customers to a dealership?

Written by Tom Slear

Bill Willix had a funny notion back in 1989. The former parts salesman had seen firsthand how much electronics had revolutionized the automotive repair industry. Technicians who could build distributors from a few scraps of plastic and old newspapers froze when they saw a computer chip. 

Friday, 31 January 2003 17:00

Suing the boss — a new national pasttime?

Written by Steven Schillinger and Robert Morris, Esq.

Employees are filing lawsuits against employers and supervisors in record numbers, alleging damages in excess of workers' compensation insurance for personal injuries. 

Sunday, 30 November 2003 17:00

Planning is essential to keep shops in business

Written by Mike Kunkel

As the end of the year rapidly approaches and people take time to evaluate their personal and financial situations, these are words to take to heart. Many of the salvage yards and repair facilities that I talk to are complaining that business is flat or down. The economy is having a tough time getting going and business has been better, but it has also been worse. One of the problems that I see is that people have difficulty shrinking their overhead to match the current sales volume of their business. 

Wednesday, 31 December 2003 17:00

Young, educated owners inspiring industry change

Written by Mike Kunkel

Thanksgiving… Come and gone. NACE…Come and gone. Hanukkah and Christmas…Come and gone. New Years…Come and gone. 

Monday, 31 May 2004 17:00

Importance of keeping a commitment to customers

Written by Jennifer Gray

"Community requires commitment." When I read this quote recently, I was struck head-on with the irony of how this applies to our business. How often do we make a commitment and actually follow through with it? Pure excitement persuades our signature to the dotted line, promising commitment, but follow-through is often lacking. 

Thursday, 30 September 2004 17:00

Two easy ways to enhance sales without really trying

Written by Hank Nunn

If you've ever been to one of those Body Shop Management seminars, you've probably seen the math: Sale - Cost = Profit. The speaker probably made a big deal out of it Those guys all act so smart explaining something so simple. Big deal. 

Monday, 28 February 2005 17:00

Locating reliable used parts forces issues of timeliness and quality

Written by Mike Kunkel

Like a lot of people, I know enough about the current computer technologies to break things and call someone who knows what to do to fix it for me. That is a major handicap to overcome in today's world where everyone is striving to go electronic for locating parts. 

Tuesday, 31 May 2005 17:00

Hidden financial crisis in the collision repair industry

Written by DJ Styles

Following are excerpts from a book that the author says will be published this summer: "Wrecked!" - a "tell-all" book about the collision industry. The author promises the book will explore innovative solutions and alternatives for shop owners to consider as a means of improving their probability for financial success.

Sunday, 31 July 2005 17:00

Underground collision repairers compete for totaled vehicles

Written by John Fischl

The news is not good. Total loss rates have more than doubled since 2002 and are continuing to rise. This translates into hundreds of millions of dollars in repairs and revenues that are no longer going to the collision repair industry in this country. 

Monday, 05 February 2007 15:08

So, what’s new?

Written by Sam Metz
James William Lambert is not a name any of us would recognize, but we owe Mr. Lambert a lot. Driving down the road, minding his business, Mr. Lambert hit a tree root, lost control and smashed his car into a hitching post, in Ohio City, Ohio. The year was 1891 and it was the first automobile accident in world history.
Tuesday, 28 February 2006 17:00

Random thoughts on disposition of storm damaged vehicles

Written by Mike Kunkel

My beloved Steelers have won the Super Bowl and, on a personal front, all seems right with the world. However, a number of articles concerning the disposition of flood cars from Hurricane Katrina are causing me some concern. 

Wednesday, 28 October 2009 09:18

Evans --- A Smaller Project Can Be Time or Budget Killer Without Precautions

Written by Rich Evans

I had what I thought was a small project, but it turned out to be harder than expected. Tom Foster is a buddy and a serious bike builder who’s been around for a couple of decades. He’s got a bike called an EVO HD Bushido that he’s building, and he came to me do the body and paint work.  

A couple of months ago I was approached by my buddies, Kevin and Victor, about making a unique trophy for this year’s charity Long Beach Car show. We wanted it to be unique and authentic and it occurred to me to use scraps and miscellaneous parts from around the shop.

Friday, 31 July 2009 17:00

Evans - Custom Chevy Bel-Air Headliner Shows Both Sides of Marilyn

Written by Rich Evans

At Huntington Beach Bodyworks, we recently began a new project: restoring a ’57 Chevy Bel-Air. In this article we will focus on the main ‘showpiece’ of this car, a custom airbrushed headliner. For this project I brought in airbrush artist Matt Van Wingerden after seeing some of his amazing mural and portrait work.

Monday, 06 July 2009 17:42

Evans --- Harley Tank Repainting, Same Color But Better—Lots of Steps

Written by Rich Evans

I’ve got a couple of Harley tanks that a customer wants to repaint. He’s had this paint job for 10 years and it’s got a couple cracks where the tank is leaking and the paint is starting to bubble up. He wants it done in the identical color using flames.

Monday, 08 June 2009 12:58

Evans --- The H2O Knight

Written by Rich Evans

This 2008 GT Mustang is going to be the first numbered car in a series. It’s also the first car I’ve done using a waterborne refinish, thanks to PPG’s Envirobase.®

Tuesday, 17 March 2009 13:32

Evans---Pneumatic Sanding Tips from Rich Evans

Written by Rich Evans

Rich Evans uses only Chicago Pneumatic orbital sanders, which he believes are the best orbital sanders on the market, to create award winning designs at Huntington Beach Bodyworks.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009 17:59

Evans---Dad's Truck

Written by Rich Evans

This month I will be discussing my father’s 1958 Chevy Pickup. The truck has a lot of history and sentimental value to my father. It was originally purchased in 1958 by my grandfather who was a farmer in Brighton, South Dakota. My father grew up and learned to drive in this truck and about 10 years ago, he was given the truck by my grandfather. It was still running and in decent shape, but after 50 years of service, it was in need of a fresh facelift. 

Friday, 19 December 2008 18:52

Evans---Rich Evans Produces Alignment Tool Kit to Make Car Reassembly Easier

Written by Rich Evans

Recently I was putting a completed project together – reinstalling the hood, deck lid, and doors. You don’t have to be in this business to know that no matter how meticulous you try to be, things usually don’t go back together as easily as it was to take them apart – especially with cars and even more so with a custom car. When you get a new project for custom paint and body work, you first mock up the car, break it down, do the custom body work and paint, clear it, buff it, and put the whole thing back together again.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008 14:48

Evans -- Easy to Perform Graphics Spice Up Two-tone Charger Hemi

Written by Rich Evans

This month, I thought that I would tell you about a recent project involving a new metallic silver Hemi Charger. This project wasn’t as complicated as some of our others and there were no custom fabrications, however, it was a very nicely upgraded vehicle that turned out beautifully.

Friday, 31 October 2008 09:39

Evans---Custom-Crafted Plexiglass Tops Add Individuality to Hotrods

Written by Rich Evans

So I thought we should talk about two projects that are different from our usual topics. One is a 1950 Chevy Coupe and the other is Gene Winfield’s own 1932 Roadster. We previously talked about bubble tops and how to form them using heating and forced air to create a bubble for a space-age type coupe. However, I believe that these particular projects will represent a process that could be more useful.

Tuesday, 02 September 2008 09:12

Evans---Retro Ideas and Modern Paint Technology Produce a Masterpiece

Written by Rich Evans

Here’s a good one for you. I recently finished a project at Huntington Beach Bodyworks that you might enjoy hearing about. It was a retro bobber-style chopper for Matt Hotch Designs. Matt Hotch is considered one of the most talented, original, and innovative motorcycle designers alive today. He is also one of the biggest stars of the popular “Biker Build Off” television series and will be appearing again in its next season.

Saturday, 02 August 2008 11:00

Racing Against Time, Corvette Gets Show-stopping Restoration

Written by Rich Evans
This month’s project was to do a complete restoration of a 1972 Corvette Convertible to be given away at the 2008 ISN Tool Dealer Expo, held in Orlando, Florida. The challenge: this five to eight month job had to be done in five weeks! Luckily with a lot of hard work, little sleep, and help from my sponsors, our five-week deadline was met and our project was delivered on time to the ISN Tool Expo.
Monday, 07 July 2008 11:38

The Never-Ending Journey to Conquer Rust

Written by Rich Evans
One job that is never ending in the body and paint business is rust repair. Since our love of automobiles started us out in the business, we began restoring anything we could get our hands on. I restored my first car—a 1968 Chevy Nova—way back when I was just a little kid. The first step with every restoration, whether it’s a professional or personal project, is identifying the level of rust damage.
Saturday, 31 May 2008 17:00

Late Custom Chopper Artist Honored with Airbrushed Memorial Tank

Written by Rich Evans

When I decided to add a custom motorcycle department to my medieval-themed shop, the first name that came to mind was Johnny Chop. What I liked immediately about him was his reputation for being an actual craftsman and not just a builder. He already had ties to Huntington Beach, so  it seemed like a good idea to at least approach him to get his thoughts. Once we met and ironed out some details, Johnny moved his bikes to the shop and joined our Huntington Beach Bodyworks crew.

Wednesday, 30 April 2008 17:00

Beating the Clock: Bare Metal Prep for a Chopper

Written by Rich Evans

Going through my photo gallery the other day, I came across a project that I’m surprised I have not written about yet. It was such an interesting project, I should have gone into detail about it a long time ago.

Thursday, 10 April 2008 13:40

Quality Paint Suits Factor into Perfect Finishes

Written by Rich Evans

Okay, let’s talk a little bit about a subject every painter encounters. It’s not one of the best aspects of the job, because it’s often very uncomfortable. I’m talking about all the gear we have to wear to keep us clean and keep the paint job as smooth as possible. Unfortunately it’s an absolute necessity.