Over the last several years, the collision repair industry has undergone tremendous change and continues to do so, said John Shoemaker, business development manager at BASF Automotive Refinishing North America.
During the November 2019 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, Shoemaker talked about how collision repair businesses can survive these changes and be successful and sustainable in the future. His presentation was part of the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) Repairer Driven Education (RDE) Series.
“If shops just want to survive, we can stay where we are and last another two to three years; with luck, we might last five,” said Shoemaker. “However, we are not going to sustain our businesses and move forward.”
With the shift in how body shops operate, Shoemaker said it’s critical to work toward running a well-maintained and equipped business. This involves continuous improvement with training, certifications and developing best practices.
Prior to working at BASF, Shoemaker ran a three-shop MSO for a dealer group in Southwest Virginia for 18 years. When the business held staff meetings and talked about moving to the next level, he recalled sharing information from a book titled “Who Moved My Cheese” by Spencer Johnson.
“The book talks about the four characteristics that represent the simple and complex parts of ourselves: sniff, scurry, hem and haw,” explained Shoemaker. “Those who sniff, are open to change early; others scurry into action. Those who hem and deny, resist change fearing it will lead to something worse; and those who “haw,” eventually learn to adapt when they realize change can lead to something better.”
When you look at these descriptions in terms of a body shop, Shoemaker said businesses that are wanting to move forward should not “hem.”
“We have a lot of people in this industry who are sitting in ‘hem’ right now and hope things are not going to get worse, and that we reached the plateau and are going to be able to ride this out for the next four to five years,” he said.
Instead, he said more shops need to act like “sniff” and “haw” and adapt moving forward.