Shops Share More Ideas on How to Get Work In the Door

Shops Share More Ideas on How to Get Work In the Door

Shops’ backlog of work dried up this spring, with one national survey of 500 shops finding that even in April, more than three in four could schedule any new work within one week or less.

So what steps are shops taking to try to get more work in the door?

Massachusetts shop owner Carl Garcia said being a LINE-X franchise has helped, as Carl’s Collision Center has seen an influx of customers putting some money---including federal stimulus funds---into fixing up their pick-ups.

“We’ve gotten very big into RVs, fixing a lot more of them than ever before,” Garcia said. “I think we’re going to have to have an open mind about doing different types of work to survive in the future.”

Michael Berounsky of Ben’s Auto Body in Portsmouth, NH, agreed.

“We’re spending more money on marketing and radio ads, including advertising for restoration work, which we have not done in more than 20 years,” he said.

Another New Hampshire shop owner said he’s halted ads “slamming insurance companies,” and is instead “projecting a positive attitude that we are all in this together and we all will pull through, and that my business will be here to help out the community in any way.”

Gigi Walker of Walker’s Auto Body in Concord, CA, is calling her shop’s regular fleet accounts to ask if they have “any clean-up work we can do on any of their fleet vehicles.” She said the shop is offering free detailing for each vehicle that comes in, and is “doing work for the food bank fleet at no cost to keep them on the road.”

Jeanne Silver of CARSTAR Mundelein in Illinois said they are pursuing more fleet work as well, and is having the shop’s marketing manager “contact local agents on a regular basis to let them know we are open.”

The shop has been getting a lot of customer engagement with “Guess the Estimate” contests, in which the shop posts photos of a damaged vehicle on its Facebook page and offers gift cards to local restaurants to those whose guesses come closest to the actual repair costs.

A shop in North Carolina installed a large sign in front of the shop to honor students graduating this spring; anyone who posts a photo of themselves in front of the sign on Facebook is being entered into a drawing for three cash prizes, totaling $800.

John Quinonez of Kidd Collision in Garden City, NY, said he has started a business referral program through Alignable.com.

A Pennsylvania shop is marketing that it is prioritizing “fast track” repairs for any first responders.

Old Dominion Collision in Eugene, OR, is sprucing up the “curb appeal” of the facility.

“We are keeping everyone busy---using our PPP loan money---making lots of needed updates to the shop: painting, concrete resurfacing, front of building facelift, etc.,” shop owner Dustin Caldwell said.

He said the company is also adjusting some of its social media and online marketing strategies, such as halting its location-specific geo-fencing, which shows ads to those within a specific geographic boundary, such as another body shop.

“We are finding that not many people are shopping around, and are just picking a shop and going there,” Caldwell said. “It just didn’t make sense targeting our competitors when they are seeing such a reduction in traffic as well."

John Yoswick

Columnist
John Yoswick is a freelance writer and Autobody News columnist who has been covering the collision industry since 1988, and the editor of the CRASH Network... Read More

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