Shop Strategies: CO Business Introduces Method of Applying PDR to Repair Process

Shop Strategies: CO Business Introduces Method of Applying PDR to Repair Process

Axiom Accident & Hail Repair is applying a unique business model to the collision repair industry.

With extensive backgrounds in the automotive industry, Bill Park, Ryan Hampton and Tony Frasher joined forces about a year ago to establish The 300 Advantage, a catastrophic hail staffing company. The partners also have businesses in accident and hail repair, Cat-Hail Insurance claims management, and a platform technology firm to support the various entities and the market at large.

Autobody News recently spoke to Bill Park, CEO, to find out more about these companies and their vision for the future. Park previously owned four collision repair shops in Arizona before selling to an MSO in 2009. He has built and sold various companies over the years and said his passion is to grow successful businesses where people enjoy showing up to do awesome work.

Q: Can you tell us about the 300 group and your areas of focus in the collision repair industry?

A: The vision of our company is to create a variety of high-value niche businesses within the automotive smart repair industry worldwide. Previously, Ryan had started a business called The Hail Company, which used a unique approach to support local paintless dent repair (PDR) businesses in medium hail frequency markets. The model was to plug into existing local PDR companies when a storm hit their area and become their hail management partner.

Last year, we amalgamated that company into a new entity called The 300 Advantage and plan to grow and scale it in a larger way. We help body shops staff for catastrophic hail damage and have currently placed about 600 technicians across the country.

Q: What is the technology platform that the 300 group has created?

A: About four years ago, we created what we call PDR Mobile Solutions. The back office support system is referred to as PDR BOSS. PDR Mobile Solutions is a full enterprise application that is specifically designed for catastrophic hail management. It can be used on mobile devices and includes estimating, integrated scheduling, a call center, workflow management and production.

The technology provides a very transparent connection among body shops, PDR companies and insurers. We call it a ‘One Entry Technology’ that connects the entire supply chain for catastrophic hail.

Q: What is your businesses’ third area of focus?

A: We also established a smart repair business called Axiom Accident & Hail Repair. The model is based on small-damage nonstructural repairs that are completed in three days or less. We’re currently launching the business in high-frequency hail markets, as the demand for nonstructural repairs is beyond the supply. There are literally thousands of customers in these markets that wait up to eight months to have their vehicles repaired.

Our first location is in Loveland, Colorado and is actually called Rowley’s Accident & Hail Repair because we partnered with an existing business owner. Our second location is in Englewood, Colorado and scheduled to open in May.

Q: What makes your business model unique?

A: We’re able to take our expertise in PDR and apply it to a typical crash repair job and really shrink the repair zone. For example, using our model we are able to repair a damaged quarter panel that most conventional repair shops would normally replace. In many cases, this maintains the classification of the car and saves a lot of its diminished value by preserving the factory panels. If you look at a pre-owned certified Lexus or Toyota, it states in their lease agreements that if a weld on a panel has been replaced, that car will no longer be classified as a certified pre-owned car.

We also use glue pulling and partner with a company named KECO that specifically manufactures tools designed for the PDR industry; however, there are slight modifications to accommodate larger dent repair. In many cases, for crashes or small accident jobs, the paint is already scratched to the extent that it needs to be refinished. We can take a dent that a technician would typically hammer out and apply a lot of body filler to, and what we’ll do instead is shrink that required amount of filler to just a skim coat in a very small area, so we preserve the metal. We’ve found that this increases the speed and accuracy of the repair time and is about twice as fast as using the conventional method, depending on the market. This is how we can ensure that 85 percent of cars we have on property will be delivered within 48--72 hours.

Another key component of our business is the use of Symach technology, which we recently installed at the Rowley’s location. Basically, we are combining PDR, just-in-time scheduling and the use of Symach gas catalytic drying equipment to ensure we have continuous workflow in our process.

Q: Can you tell us about the Symach equipment you installed at Rowley’s and how your technicians responded?

A: We purchased the FixStation, Drytron portable dryer and Drybox. We found that they have been great additions to the shop. For example, we recently had an aluminum repair job on a Ford that a refrigerator fell on; the hood and fender were both cracked. The vehicle came in first thing in the morning and was ready and painted by 1:30 in the afternoon.

The technicians love it. I think it takes a little time to get used to combining PDR in conjunction with a conventional repair, so there has been a learning curve with the technicians. However, our technicians have been very open to that and we are fortunate in that regard.

Osvaldo Bergaglio, CEO of Symach, and his team are great strategic partners for us. Osvaldo is really dedicated to our business model and what we are trying to accomplish, and he is so willing to work with our needs to specifically meet our objectives.

We’re currently working on building our third location, a 22,000-square-foot facility that is fully equipped with Symach technology and is scheduled to open later this year.

We’ve invested considerable resources into the business to help support our long-term vision. Even with that said, I think our biggest differentiation is going to be the philosophy of how we approach our people in our business to deliver a world-class customer experience. Everything we do is customer-centric.

Q: How is employee satisfaction tied in to providing excellent customer service?

A: If employees aren’t happy doing their jobs and we aren’t supporting them, our customer experience is going to feel it---end of story.

As a result, we give our employees the best of everything to do their best work. That’s why we invested in Symach equipment and that’s why we are spending time epoxying the floors and creating a workspace environment in our new location where employees can be at their best.

We also hold training seminars for our employees. As part of the 300 Advantage, we recently held a one-day conference with 300 PDR technicians. We talked about things like personal development, the books they are reading and how to grow professionally. We understand that most people aren’t going to work for us for a lifetime, but what we want to do is be their best starting point for their professional career. We want our people to be excited about their future, whether we are in it or not. With a transparent culture like that, our people know we have their best interests at heart, and that becomes sticky.

Q: What is your advice to collision repair shops looking to hire employees?

A: There are plenty of young people out there who can do the work that we need to have done. Especially in our business, it’s going to be easy for us to scale and help our technicians grow. We’re not really concerned about that.

Typical collision repair shops need to segregate their business specialties and focus on people in that regard. When the repair requires a level of skill, such as structural repair, aluminum repair and the more exotic types of metals and plastics, you have to find a true craftsman and pay a premium to that person and train…train…train. It’s no different than going to a specialty doctor. You’re going to pay that doctor more money for that work. I think people need to get away from the excuses that the market can’t afford that.

If you build and design your model well enough and you have an operating model that can deliver higher gross margins than your competition, you can afford to pay your specialty people more. They won’t leave you for more money if your culture is aligned.

Q: What are your expansion plans?

A: I think when you look at the pieces of our business model from a holistic standpoint, we can certainly duplicate it. We have 37 locations that we have mapped out in 16 markets across the country. We have a long-term commitment to grow and build a great company. Our hail catastrophe business is expanding with our strategic partnership with DentSmart, the addition of our Smart Claims Services business and an ever-expanded Certified Network Partner program with local PDR companies.

For more information about PRR Mobile Solutions, visit www.pdrmobile.com.

For more information about The300Advantage, visit www.the300advantage.com.

Stacey Phillips Ronak

Columnist
Stacey Phillips Ronak is an award-winning writer for the automotive industry and a regular columnist for Autobody News based in Southern California.

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