As a journalist covering automotive repair news for the past 15 years, I have interviewed up to more than 1,500 shop owners and other collision professionals. In most cases, I am talking to the crème de la crème of the collision industry; writing about their successes and the reasons why they’ve achieved great things. I call them The Top 10%, because that's exactly what they are.
Due to these experiences, I realized the body shops that flourish in this demanding industry are doing a lot of the same things to be the best in their respective markets. So, here is my list of the 5 Things Top Body Shops Do:
- Focus on the Customer Experience
In the old days, customers didn’t know the difference between OE and aftermarket parts, but today they are more educated about what body shops do. As a result, they are more selective and discerning when picking a shop to work with. They can’t be steered by the insurance companies easily anymore, because they know they have a choice. That is why the top 10% shops in this country make customer service a top priority, right up there with a quality repair. It all works together, because exemplary customer service also positively impacts the relationships with the insurance companies.
- Always Looking for New Business
Even the most successful shops are out there looking for other ways to make money, because they realize that things can change overnight. Losing a big DRP can seriously damage any shop’s bottom line, so smart operators are continually shaking the bushes for new sources of revenue. Working with new car dealerships that don’t have their own collision centers; starting a car detailing division; pursuing brand name and aluminum certifications and going after fleet work—these are just a few things that top shops are willing to do. How about you?
- Believe in Community Involvement
Many shop owners figure, “Hey—we do a great job fixing cars, so why do we have to donate time, money and effort to the community?” The answer is easy. Body shops should be viewed as local businesses that people can trust, like their banks, insurance brokers or priests, for example. Customers are putting their vehicles in your hands, so you need to communicate a message that says we are trustworthy, accountable and transparent. If they can see your name around town (and in the local news) supporting organizations, such as the local high schools, colleges, sports leagues, Boys & Girls Scouts, etc., it will bring you a whole level of credibility, which is really even more important than money itself. When it comes to picking a body shop, things such as philanthropy and community involvement go a long way when the consumer is in the search mode for a shop after an accident.
- Stress Training/Education
If you're a shop owner, you know that finding top people is becoming more and more difficult every day. Now, shops are stealing techs and estimators from other shops and offering them incredible salary and benefit packages. Top salaries, extended vacations and signing bonuses are luring collision professionals to the top shops in the country, so training and educating your people is essential. The plain fact is that once your people are trained, either through your own training program or I-CAR, they can leave for more money and added benefits at any time. But, history tells us that happy employees will stay at their jobs. Training and education equals better, more qualified people and in most cases, it also leads to retention overall.
- Believe in Marketing
Many shop owners say, "Hey, I made it this far without doing any marketing, so why do I need to start now?" Well, the answer to that is you've been lucky up until now, so why keep pushing it? Marketing is a necessary part of any company's success, so why stop fighting it and join the club? Body shops and collision centers that focus intently on marketing are usually in the top 5-8% nationwide. Marketing, advertising public relations and social media are not a "stop and start" type of thing, because they should always be going on in the background, without interruption. When it comes to marketing, the key deliverables are simple—stay engaged with your customer base and devise a consistent, simple and direct message. By committing 100%, 24/7 to marketing their shop(s), top operators are out thinking and out working their competitors in the marketing arena.
These five categories, of course, only touch the surface when you're looking for what successful body shops are doing. Some call them "best practices" while others call them "operational modalities" or other fancy names. So, if you're striving to be a better shop, why not concentrate on 1 or 2 of these and become a little stronger every day?
At AutoBody-Review.com, we post each and every customer review we receive-both good and bad. We never filter our reviews to “help” a body shop look good and our strict processes prevent phony or fake reviews from being posted to our site. For pure, unadulterated and 100% objective reviews, rely on AutoBody-Review.com each and every time.
Ed has been a professional writer for more than 35 years and his specialties include B2B reporting, blogging, ad copywriting, public relations and general editorial.