Shop Strategies: AZ Body Shop Uses YouTube to Educate Consumers
Written by Stacey Phillips, Autobody News
Published May 2, 2018
When you walk into the main office at Orlando Auto Body in Mesa, AZ, one of the first things you’ll notice is the numerous magazine articles and awards that decorate an entire wall.
They are reminiscent of the custom cars Shane Orlando has worked on throughout his career.
He and his younger brother, Jason, began repairing and restoring cars and trucks as teenagers working out of a 600-square-foot garage. They quickly attracted the attention of car enthusiasts, classic car restorers and those who were involved in auto collisions. It wasn’t long before the brothers opened Orlando Auto Body in a 1,500-square-foot facility in Tempe, AZ, repairing about 100 vehicles per year.
Fast-forward to today---30 years after working informally from their parents’ home---and they now operate in Mesa out of a 12,000-square-foot building generating $3 million annually and working on more than 1,000 vehicles per year. With a primary focus on collision repair, the company has built a reputation for friendly service and quality workmanship, always putting safety first.
Autobody News recently visited the family-owned-and-operated shop and learned first-hand how the collision repair facility is addressing the tech shortage and uses digital marketing to enhance its business.
Q: Congratulations on your recent 30-year anniversary celebration at Orlando’s Auto Body. How did you get started in this business and where has your custom work been featured?
A: When I was 17 years old, I was working seven days a week, 15 hours a day. My brother, Jason, and I primarily focused on hot rods at the time. It was a lot of fun. Our custom work has been featured in more than 100 car magazines and television shows, including Truckin’ Magazine, Hot Bike Magazine, and at car shows at World of Wheels, Good Guys Car Show, the Low Rider Custom Car Show and the SEMA Show in Las Vegas. We have also done paint prototypes in the past for General Motors, Yamaha, Polaris and Kawasaki and created custom cars for many celebrities, such as boxing great Mike Tyson and Phoenix Suns’ Shawn Marion and Joe Courtney.
Those same individuals would bring in their wrecked cars. I quickly realized that I made more money fixing their wreck than I did their Harley or Hot Rod, so I started focusing more on insurance work. After a few years, Jason left the business and took on more of a corporate role in the industry. I’m proud to say that we recently reunited, and Jason runs the shop on a day-to-day basis. We do 100 percent collision repair and the occasional custom job for our own vehicles.
Although most of my skills are self-taught, I attended vocational school to learn automotive mechanics and upholstery. I also took continuing education courses to learn how to estimate. I had to learn the hard way. I made every mistake there was. One of the hardest lessons I had to learn was how to say no to people and charge what you are worth.
Q: What sets your body shop apart from others in the industry?
A: With all of the recognition we’ve received over the years, we’ve had steady growth at our Mesa shop. We have distinguished ourselves from the competition by operating with the utmost integrity. This includes strong attention to detail and unmatched customer service.
As an independent shop, we strive to deliver the highest quality repairs and service found anywhere in the valley of the sun. We tell our customers that we will have their cars completed when we promised at the price agreed upon and the work will be high quality. In an environment of consolidation, treating people like people is a big deal and we pride ourselves on that. We even offer customers deductible assistance through financing and/or discounts.
Our intention is to meet or beat our customers’ expectations and continue to support our community and their needs for years to come. In fact, we are looking to expand through the valley and open another shop by the end of the year.
Q: Over the years, how have you managed to staff your body shop with the shortage of technicians in the industry?
A: Every year for the last decade, we have offered a part-time internship. We employ one or two kids from a local high school and we spend time training them. When they graduate and if we have an opening, they can come back and work as a helper in the shop. If they don’t work for me, then most likely they will stay in the industry.
I also speak occasionally at colleges or high schools to help encourage the kids to get involved in this industry. First, I tell them that whether or not they want to go to college, I recommend taking business courses and accounting. It’s great if they want to work with their hands and get a job in this trade; I encourage it. They can make a great living. But it’s important for them to have some education and learn how to manage money.
Q: How do you currently market your business?
A: Back when we first started out, I always thought our custom work would generate revenue. I regularly received phone calls from people saying they saw me in a magazine. Now, I realize that it was incredible marketing being featured in the media. That wasn’t my intention, but the reality is that it helped me build a great reputation for providing impeccable quality work.
In addition to doing radio ads valley-wide, we are currently very active in social media using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus. We also have a YouTube channel where we educate clients about the repair process. I would say that digitally, we are dominating the market in the Phoenix area the best we can.
Q: Can you tell us about your YouTube videos and how they have been helpful for customers?
A: We currently have more than 20 informative YouTube videos online. They include helping customers understand the repair process, how to choose a body shop, how to navigate the insurance industry and the differences between OEM and aftermarket parts.
Not many people get into wrecks. It’s not like something that happens all the time, so most of the time they don't know what to do and they are being told what to do. We’ve found that if you can educate them, they can make their own choices. It benefits the entire industry in that people are free to choose, because ultimately, they are. The insurance companies are there to pay the bill and the collision industry is there to fix cars, and that’s been a very muddy line for a long time. Our videos have helped provide people with the tools they need to make an educated decision about who is going to fix their cars.
Q: For shops that aren’t taking initiative to do digital marketing, what advice would you give?
A: Given the digital age, I think they are missing out on a great opportunity to build their businesses, so they are sustainable. Most shops spend less than 2 percent of their budget on marketing because they don’t have to. With that being said, I believe they are paying a premium for the relationships they have with the insurance companies. They may not see a line item that says ‘marketing,’ but they are at the beck and call of those relationships. More often than not, if they lose an insurance relationship, their shop is at risk of going under.
I recommend shops build their businesses organically through social media and marketing, so they are not heavily dependent on DRP relations. In fact, I believe they can deliver a better-quality repair in a lot of cases.