Try this the next time you take your family out to dinner. When the server presents the bill, tell him to make you a copy, and you will work on it as soon as you get home. Make sure you tell him you are really swamped because you still have to go through your last three weeks dining bills and pay them first. Remind him that you eat there a lot and you're good for it, and you will get to his bill as soon as you get time.
Sounds completely stupid, but as collision shop owners, we do this every day. Why do we pay rental bills when we don't collect the rental premiums? I'll tell you my opinion. It's because we have forgotten how to say "No!" It's just easier to complain about it and figure out how to cost shift to make up the difference. Somehow this doesn't seem like the professional industry we claim to be.
Giving in to demands
What if the doctor rushed you out the door in the middle of surgery because if he wasn't finished on time they would make him pay the bill? What if you needed your child's broken arm set and the doctor said the arm will be a little bit crooked but it's not life threatening, so we won't worry about it. Our industry gives in to these types of demands daily. We should not allow it!
The next time you go to a nice restaurant, order your steak, eat your dinner, and compliment the chef on the fine meal. When the bill comes, pull out your own personal survey of all the restaurants in town and tell the waiter you will only pay the normal and customary charge for the steak dinner - because according to your personal survey, he is charging too much. This sounds ridiculous, but as collision repairers, we allow this every day.
Why do we as an industry feel so unworthy - and so undeserving? Wake up. We've been brainwashed into believing we don't deserve any better - that retirement and medical benefits for us, or our employees, is beyond our reach.
Furthermore, they tell us we make so much money that we should be able to figure it out. If we make so much money, why can't our industry recruit and keep good employees? I give my employees empty promises; they say, show me the money! I reply that there is no money. Is this fair to my employees, when I help control their future? I want them to make money, I want their families to have medical benefits, I want them to have retirement plans, I want them to have a future, and I believe they deserve it!
Why are we as an industry so willing to be so mistreated? Because we have been brainwashed into believing we deserve no better? The question is what to do now. We just have to say No, No, and No! again - until the message gets across that we have had enough! Just like the battered wife who has finally realized she is not worthless and must bear the responsibility for changing her circumstances.
As collision repairers, we need to stand up for ourselves and say enough is enough. If we don't take a stand, we will just continue to perceive ourselves to be doormats thinking we are unworthy and deserve no better, just like the battered wife. We need to just say no, we've had enough
In business for 26 years, Lee Amaradio, Jr. is the president and owner of "Faith" Quality Auto Body Inc. in Murrieta, California. With 65 employees, he attributes his success to surrounding himself with good help, claiming to have some of the best office staff and techs in our industry. Amaradio has been in this industry long enough to see the handwriting on the wall. He feels that now is the time for us to unite as an industry before it's to late. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.