Wednesday, 17 January 2018 13:23

Dave’s Autobody Spans 41 Years on Grand Avenue in Galesburg, IL

Written by Robyn Gautschy, The Register-Mail
Dave's Autobody owner Dave Dunn of Galesburg, IL, poses for a photo in the company's shop at 2171 Grand Ave. Dave's Autobody owner Dave Dunn of Galesburg, IL, poses for a photo in the company's shop at 2171 Grand Ave. Photo by Steve Davis/The Register-Mail


RM: What about the Gator Sauce---I see it everywhere! How did this venture come about, and how does it fit into your business model?

DD: Dave’s Gator Sauce is a result of collaborative thinking at one of our marketing seminars. Since collision repair is a need-based business, no one wants to come to a body shop. Additionally, people only need a body shop every seven or eight years. Since we desire a relational approach with our customers, we must develop ways to re-engage our customers outside the transaction of collision repair. It’s hard to have a relationship with someone you only see every seven or eight years. Dave’s Gator Sauce helps us in multiple ways: 1. When people see bottles of it around, we have an opportunity to shock the Broca. In other words, since it is unusual for a body shop to have a branded hot sauce, it tends to be memorable because it is unusual. Plus, we get logo propagation. 2. If the customer likes (the sauce), they are directed to Dave’s Autobody for a “free” bottle. Those who come out to our shop for a free bottle engage (re-engage) with us and we begin developing a relationship outside of any transaction. Once people walk through the doors at Dave’s Autobody they are generally impressed with the stark difference in how our staff and business looks in comparison to their preconceived idea of a typical body shop. Hence, slowly but surely, we develop a relationship with people and become top of the mind in awareness.

RM: Your business is involved in the community as well. Could you tell us more about your involvement and why this is important to you?

DD: What can I say? I love Galesburg and our surrounding towns and counties. The people of this area have been good to me and my family. I want to be a good citizen who contributes. We have a fairly high poverty rate and we feel a responsibility to be of assistance when we can. We firmly believe it is up to us to make our world a better, safer and more loving place to live.

RM: What is something a lot of people don’t know about Dave’s Autobody?

DD: Probably just how well we take care of our employees. We have many unique benefit programs and assist them with training, education and off-the-wall benefits. For instance, we even pay 50 percent of their veterinary bills for them. All employees and spouses are treated to a free trip to Hawaii at their 25th anniversary of employment with us. So far, nine families have had the privilege of going and a few more are almost there. Our employees also give back to the community. We are traditionally one of the top five United Way contributors year in and year out, even though we are a relatively small company. I am proud to say the good men and women serve our community in many ways.

RM: What is the key to your business’ success for so many years?

DD: I know it sounds like a cliché, but I have been good at surrounding myself with good people. We hire character and teach skills. Many businesses place great emphasis on only technical qualifications. I believe we can teach any skill, but character is most important.

RM: What’s next for Dave’s Autobody? Any new services or projects in the works?

DD: Our industry is rapidly changing. Technology will continue to evolve and we will change with it. We are slowly growing our mechanical business. We currently do tires, brakes, shocks, wheel alignment and air conditioning. I look to expend mechanical repair offerings. My son, Robby, is heavily involved in the business and our community. Since he is only 39, I see his eventual leadership keeping us on the cutting edge.

RM: What do you love about your work?

DD: I love seeing people who are obviously discouraged after an accident become raving fans of Dave’s Autobody and lifetime relational customers who proselytize on our behalf. I love watching our 38 good men and women grow and become responsible, contributing citizens.

RM: Do you have any words of wisdom for other businesses that hope to stand the test of time like yours has?

DD: In running your business, never chase short-term solutions. Accept less financial reward early on and invest in your people, infrastructure and community. As we say at Masters, “If mediocrity is the perception of what you do, then price will be the only differentiator.” Be excellent!


We thank The Register-Mail for reprint permission.

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