How do you build a $3 million business without any DRPs? Robert Molina, co-owner of Collision Care Xpress in Pompano Beach, Fla., answers without hesitation: “No doubt it’s the customer service.”
“I can’t accept a customer giving us a four-star rating,” Molina tells BodyShop Business. “I won’t accept that. I tell the customers, ‘How do I get that five-star rating? I’m not going to accept anything less than that.’”
To Molina’s point, you’ll find dozens of five-star reviews on the shop’s Yelp and Facebook pages. The value of those positive experiences is much greater than the some of their parts, as satisfied customers recommend the shop to their family and friends.
Collision Care Xpress counts the Drug Enforcement Administration and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives as regular customers, “because they trust us, they believe in us.”
“We’ve been able to build a relationship like that with all of our customers, and they all become friends and family,” Molina says. “That’s been our key to success. It’s not easy. But if you stick to it, you can get somewhere.”
The customer experience starts with the shop’s reception area – which looks more like a medical or legal office than a body shop. Molina even makes a point to ensure that the facility smells good.
“People don’t want to come into a dingy, smoky-smelling office, which is how most of the shops in our area are,” he adds.
While the aesthetics of Molina’s 16,000-square-foot facility make a good first impression, it’s not a case of style over substance. The shop earns those five-star reviews “with the attention the customers get from us” as soon as they walk in the building, Molina says.
“We roll out the red carpet and I mean we roll it out. [The customers] don’t have to do anything. We explain the whole repair process to them.”
A sign next to the reception desk outlines the shop’s approach to customer service. It conveys the shop’s promise to:
- Market its products and services honestly
- Employ professional, well-trained and knowledgeable staff
- Treat customers fairly and professionally
- Provide friendly, helpful and professional service
- Consult with the customer about any additional work that is required
- Keep the customer informed on the progress of any work
- Complete the job in a timely manner
- Deliver the vehicle clean
- Guarantee the quality of the work that it performs
“The sad part is we’re not doing anything special,” Molina says. “We’re just doing what we’re supposed to do. Most of our competitors make our life very easy, because they do the wrong thing. And I think that’s where we really look good.”
When a shop CSR explains the estimate, the customer can view the estimate on a 60-inch TV monitor that mirrors the CSR’s computer screen. But what the customer doesn’t see is just as important to their experience.
The shop’s repair process includes performing a pre-repair scan on every vehicle; performing a 100-percent teardown; creating a blueprint; measuring the vehicle if there’s structural damage; and pre-pulling the vehicle if necessary. Then the shop submits a supplement to the insurance company, “and we stay on top of them.”
“We’re hounding them,” Molina says. “We have a team of girls who just handle re-emailing adjusters, letting them know, ‘Hey, we’re still waiting for you, when are you going to make it out here?’ We’re constantly on top of them, because we want to get this car out of here as quickly as possible.”
One of the unsung heroes in the shop’s success is its paint supplier, PPG. Molina admits that most customers don’t take a close look at their vehicles when the job is done, even though “they’re gorgeous repairs.” But he is a raving fan of PPG, noting that the company’s water-based refinish products provide “the most unbelievable color-matching properties I’ve ever seen on any paint job.”
“We’re very proud to have them as a partner,” Molina adds.
Employees Are ‘Our Secret Sauce’
Collision Care Xpress has a dedicated quality-control specialist who conducts checks at various stages of the repair process. He follows a checklist that requires signatures from the bodyman, the painter and the detailer for each job.
Since the QC specialist joined the shop about a year and a half ago, Molina estimates that the number of do-overs has dropped by 90 percent. “He’s done an incredible job.”
Molina is quick to credit his employees for the success of the business, noting that all of the shop’s technicians have I-CAR Gold Class certification, as does the shop as a whole.
“Our secret sauce is our employees,” Molina says.
Molina goes out of his way to make the shop’s 26 employees feel appreciated. The shop celebrates staff birthdays and recognizes an employee of the month. When BodyShop Business interviewed Molina in February, he was bringing in a food truck as a treat for the staff on Valentine’s Day. Molina also says he’s working on a profit-sharing program that he plans to roll out next year.
“We do a lot of cool stuff for the employees to let them know that they’re appreciated, because our industry is tough, and a lot of these guys have been beat up,” Molina says. “They’ve worked in places that don’t have the best business practices. We feel that without our employees – just like in any other business – you can’t succeed.”
Despite being a non-DRP shop for most of the nine years that Molina has owned the shop, Collision Care Xpress maintains “a great working relationship with every insurance company out there,” he says.
In the interest of full disclosure, when BodyShop Business interviewed Molina several weeks ago, he’d just inked his first DRP agreement – with GEICO. He admits it was a tough pill to swallow at first.
“I told them: ‘Forget about cycle times. The most important thing is fixing the car right, and that’s what I’m good at. If you’re OK with me fixing the car right, I can provide great service to your customers. But I don’t want you to talk to me about any language that’s in a normal DRP.’ It’s crazy that they accepted that offer.”