Shop Strategies: How Being a ‘Values-Driven Company’ Has Set NM Shop Apart from Competition

ReCARnation Total Automotive Solutions  Team
The team at ReCARnation Total Automotive Solutions in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Just one year ago, Pamela Weese joined ReCARnation Total Automotive Solutions as the company’s COO. With extensive experience in organizational management and business development, Weese was named CEO this past April.

Autobody News reached out to Weese to find out more about the Albuquerque, NM, body shop and how it sets itself apart from neighboring shops by being a “values-driven company.”

Q: As a prior director of business development, how did you get involved in the collision repair industry?

A: The business was established in 2009 by Marc Powell as a car dealership with in-house financing. A small garage was created the following year and the company has continued to grow. We now operate the mechanical, paint and body shop out of an 18,000-square-foot facility where our 15-person team provides electrical, mechanical and paint and body services. We offer a full range of services to both corporate fleets and retail clients, including 24-hour roadside assistance and towing.

I joined the company in May of 2016 after working in venture capital. Marc asked me to come on as the COO to streamline operations, implement cutting-edge software, and improve process and procedure. I have no background in the world of cars, so I knew this would be a challenge, which is exactly what I needed for personal and professional development!

Q: You often describe the business as a "values-driven company.” What are some of the ways that you incorporate this into the business?

A: Our core values are simple and drive everything we do at RecCARnation.

We are a team united and driven by our commitment to a set of common values, which we have all agreed to: be transparent and truthful, serve compassionately, improve constantly, choose joy and laughter, and create success.;

We are transparent and truthful with our clients. Trust is the bedrock of a healthy relationship. We tell the truth as we understand it and are completely transparent about our products, processes and abilities.

Serving others is our highest purpose. We respect all people, without judgment, and serve with humility, gratitude and heartfelt compassion.

In terms of improving constantly, we are committed to continuous assessment and action to get better at everything that matters in our personal and professional lives.

We also try to create joy and laughter. Happiness is not an accident. It is a decision. Each of us makes the conscious choice to bring joy and laughter every day to our clients, vendors and one another.

Success requires common effort and is meaningful only when shared. We do everything possible to participate in the success of every individual we touch. Some days that is easier than others, but we try to stay on the journey.

Q: Can you tell us about the LifeXtend™ certification program and other initiatives that set your company apart from others in the industry?

A: LifeXtend is a full reconditioning process that can take a high mileage vehicle and make it safe, reliable and beautiful for another 50,000 miles, depending on the vehicle. For most people, it makes more sense to give their existing car a makeover rather than sign up for seven years of car payments. We also offer short-term financing.

Q: What are some of the ways your shop puts customers first? 

A: My number one goal for ReCARnation is to continue and improve upon the exceptional customer service that the staff provides to our customers. Every day, with every customer, we focus on providing high-quality auto repair services coupled with top-notch customer service.

When customers arrive at our shop, we adhere to a strict “no wait” policy. This means all customers are seen at their scheduled appointment times, or at the moment they drive in for service. We value their time and their experience, as our customer is our first priority!

Working in the automotive industry, I have gained so much knowledge about the customers’ stress around having their cars in the “shop” and the invoice that awaits them. Very few people walk into an automotive shop happy. I want our clients to leave happy and satisfied with the quality service we deliver.  

With countless five-star reviews, we are proud of our reputation as one of the Albuquerque area’s most trustworthy auto repair shops.

Q: You wrote an article about why data matters in the automotive industry. What is the importance of data to a shop?

A: We make it a priority to use the most updated software in order to serve customers in the manner they expect. Each one of our staff members has an iPad that is their constant companion all day long to use the software system, called AutoVitals, that ReCARnation has adopted.

Every car that comes into our shop receives a Digital/Visual Inspection (DVI) that tells us what is going on with the car. Pictures are taken of all the places where service is performed on an automobile. The DVI with the photos is then emailed or texted to the customer so he or she can pick which services are the most important. The services are all indicated with a color: red for needs immediate attention, yellow for needs attention soon, and green for no services required. Customers are clear that we are not up-selling them on something that does not need to be fixed right away, and therefore feel a sense of trust in our company.

As the CEO, I go in to AutoVitals every day and check the most important, cost-effective, and baseline work that is performed by all employees. We are able to find out about shop and technician effectiveness, technician efficiency and productivity, and other metrics.

Q: How do you ensure the technicians stay up-to-date with new technology and procedures?

A: Our team receives ongoing training in automotive technology and auto repair services. All of our technicians are ASE or I-CAR certified.

We take pride in performing exceptional quality work in terms of mechanical precision, paint and body detail, thorough inspections and emissions compliance. We often tell our customers that we offer dealership quality knowledge and experience at an affordable price.

Q: What is the importance of body shops giving back to the community and what are some of the events you have hosted in the past?

A: Our auto repair business is built around our clientele, our commitment to service and our community. We like to say that we are “Communitarians” at ReCARnation.

Giving back to the community that supports our business is the only way that we are ever going to better our society. In New Mexico, there are so many nonprofits that need help, as we rank very low in education, food security and pay scale. I also feel that it brings morale to the crew here at ReCARnation. We work together to help those in need and to create change in our community.

We have sponsored blood drives and events for a wide range of nonprofit organizations, including The Domestic Violence Resource Center, the Veterans Integration Centers, The NM Philharmonic, the Kirtland Partnership Committee, NM Dog, University of New Mexico, Paws & Stripes and many more.

Q: As an independent body shop, how will you prepare for the changes ahead in the industry?

A: Our industry is in for profound changes in the coming decades. The advent of electric cars will reduce vehicle maintenance requirements and autonomous vehicles will lower the accident rate. These two things will likely develop simultaneously. We don't know who the winners will be, but scale and professional management are likely keys to navigating the new realities.

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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