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Another Year Gone

Publisher Scott Shriber expresses concerns over an industry getting older and explains why it’s important to plan for the future.

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I can hardly believe that I’m writing the December 2012 Publisher’s Perspective. It seems like only yesterday that I was sitting down to craft the January column.

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Look at what has happened since. We had a mild winter season; State Farm announced its parts initiative; DuPont Performance Coatings was sold to a private equity firm; the nation elected our next president; and the East survived a devastating hurricane. That’s a lot of news in just one year’s time.

What about you? What have you accomplished in the last 12 months? I know you’ve fixed many customers’ vehicles and hopefully made some profit along the way. But that’s not really the answer I’m looking for. I’m interested in what you did to move your business forward and make it sustainable into the future.

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As we report every other year in our State of the Industry piece, all of us continue to get older. The age of the average body shop owner is well into the 50s, and it just keeps getting higher — not that age is a bad thing, but sooner or later, we need some new blood.

While most of you and I are peers, I get worried when I don’t see many younger people entering the industry. Don’t get me wrong, there are many talented young people in this business, but not as many as we’ll need going into the future. Many of us have been kicking around here for quite awhile, and it’s time for a fresh set of ideas and motivations to get involved.

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So I ask you: Do you know how you’re going to move your business into the future? Are you going to sell to a consolidator, or will a family member take over? Will you just close up your shop and sell the land? These are all options, and there are plenty of others.

The important thing is to think about your options now — not when you have to or, worse yet, when someone else has to do it for you.

Think about how hard you’ve worked to build your business. It’s probably the hardest thing you’ve ever done. Don’t let procrastination force you into a bad business situation. Come up with a plan now. There are many sources out there where you can get advice. Your associations can be a great resource, as well as consolidators, consultants and other collision business owners.

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We all know that people are going to continue to drive and smash up their cars. Where there is demand, there is a future. Be sure you and your business are ready for it.

See you in 2013.

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