A Feminine Touch - BodyShop Business

A Feminine Touch

jill strauss, managing partner, lji collision center
lauren angie, managing partner, lji collision center Michael Giarrizzo Sr., business advisor, LJI Collision CenterChagrin Boulevard, which is the street the new LJI Collision Center is located on in Orange Village, Ohio, has earned the nickname "Rodeo Drive" by the locals. So perhaps it’s appropriate, then, that this new collision repair facility showcases locally handcrafted art and jewelry in its customer reception area.

In fact, the customer reception area, which also features granite countertops, crown molding, a Keurig coffee maker, comfortable furniture, WiFi, and a flat-screen TV, might just inspire decorating ideas for one’s own home.

"We wanted a feminine touch, not the hardcore body shop feel," said Business Advisor Michael Giarrizzo, Sr.

Family History

Collision repairers might recognize the Giarrizzo name. Father Michael Sr. started the Cleveland, Ohio-based JSI Collision Centers, which grew from one store to four locations with $12 million annual revenue and was purchased by Sterling Autobody Centers in 1999. Son Michael Jr. served as chief operating officer for the Sterling division, then left in 2003 to start DCR Systems, which features a patented, process-focused collision repair operating model.

Sisters Lauren Angie and Jill Strauss worked at the family business at JSI and later served as managing partners for DCR Systems but broke out to start LJI – which stands for Lauren-Jill Independent – and give it that "feminine touch."

Customer Focus

The sisters found their perfect place on "Rodeo Drive" at an old Saturn dealership. It cost them $1 to $2 million to renovate the 14,000-square-foot space and get up and operating, and from the beginning they had the customer in mind.

"For us, it’s all about the customer," said Michael Sr. "A lot of shops do good repairs, but not a lot take care of the customer."

Behind the Bays

Spraybooth: Blowtherm 

Paint: AkzoNobel Sikkens Autowave

Paint Mixing System: AkzoNobel

Measuring/Dimensioning System: Car-O-Liner BenchRack/Car-O-Tronic Vision X3

Lifts: Car-O-Liner Speed

Estimating System: CCC One

Management System: Summit Software

Welding Equipment: Car-O-Liner MIG, Car-O-Liner spot welder

Alignment System: John Bean Visualiner

Future Equipment Purchases: Diagnostic system

But don’t think LJI is all frills and no quality work. They spared no expense with equipment, buying all top-quality machines, including a massive one-of-a-kind spraybooth imported from Italy.

"It’s 60 percent more efficient than your typical booth and reheats its own air and recirculates it," Michael Sr. explained. "You can prep and bake in it at the same time."

Process-Centered Environment

Daughter and managing partner Jill says the shop employs a process-centered environment. One side of the shop is dedicated to work "in" and the other side is dedicated to work "out." Orange lines on the floor demarcate the disassembly area (which features a 4-foot x 8-foot skylight to allow in natural light), while green indicates "job size reduction" or prep and blue is where the actual collision repairs take place. 

At a Glance

Shop Name: LJI Collision Center

Location: Orange Village, Ohio

Established: 2011

Square Footage: 14,000

Owners: Lauren Angie and Jill Strauss

No. of Employees: 9

Expected Annual Gross Sales: $3 million

There are also different colored traffic cones to signal different things. Red means there is a defect and work has stopped; yellow is approved work that is waiting for the receiving tech to approve; green means everything has been approved. An orange cone outside the spraybooth tells techs, "A car is currently being painted in the booth, and so this space will soon be occupied by that vehicle so do not put any other vehicles here." No car advances without the proper quality checks.

The nine techs, who are paid hourly and can receive bonuses every two weeks, work as a team and are relied on to solve any problems by themselves as they see fit. According to Jill, they will have brief meetings, sometimes every two hours, to discuss how production is going and how to resolve any bottlenecks.

"This is a flowline pull system, a paced environment," Jill says. "The guys are empowered to look at inventory and figure things out for themselves."

A tool cart was specifically designed by the Giarrizzos for their own needs. Vacuum assist is on all tools, ensuring that the shop stays immaculate. Lifts ensure that vehicles are at eye-level for accurate diagnoses and repairs, and raised carts also assure that disassembled parts stay together at waist-level and not on the ground.

Building Business

Buzz was building long before the shop opened, with people asking when it would open and Googling the LJI name. In fact, in its first week, the shop wrote 17 repair orders. Still, Jill and Lauren are working hard at marketing to insurance agents ("We have to track our KPIs for awhile before we can get that business," says Jill) and the community.

"We opened at the worst time of the year, but we’re confident in our location and reputation," says Michael Sr.

Click here to see a slideshow of LJI Collision

You May Also Like

BASF to Recognize Five Talented Individuals with Awards at SEMA

Whether the award is for making a car look great using BASF products or encouraging the next generation of talent, BASF will recognize the best of the best.

BASF announced it will be awarding five talented collision professionals with special awards at the SEMA Show Oct. 31-Nov. 3 in Las Vegas. Whether the award is for making a car look great using BASF products or encouraging the next generation of talent, BASF will recognize the best of the best.

Valley Collision-Mesa in Arizona Joins 1Collision

1Collision has announced the addition of Valley Collision-Mesa in Arizona to its nationwide network.

URG, Team PRP Sponsor NABC FREE Program

United Recyclers Group and Team PRP will be presenting sponsors of the NABC F.R.E.E. program at the IIHS Vehicle Research Center Oct. 10 and 12.

ASE Education Foundation Board Chair Delivers Welcome Message

Trey Michael has released an official statement to the automotive industry as he accepts his new position as chair of the ASE Education Foundation for 2023.

Kent Automotive Named Exclusive Distributor of 4Plastic Repair

Kent Automotive has been named the exclusive distributor of 4Plastic supplies and tools in the U.S. and Canada. 

Other Posts

OTC Introduces New Heavy-Duty Bottle Jacks

The new BT12 and BT30 heavy-duty bottle jacks support a wider range of foreign and domestic vehicles ideal for the trucking and construction industries.

SEMA Launches New Award for Best Engineered Vehicle

The SEMA Best Engineered Vehicle of the Year Award will honor and celebrate a build that demonstrates quality engineering throughout the entire vehicle.

S & G Tool Aid Introduces New Blow Gun

The Turbo Tornado Blow Gun delivers the air flow you need when and where you need it. 

CIF Announces asTech as Repeat Annual Donor

The CIF announced that asTech has committed again to its Annual Donor Program.