Finding Your Body Shop’s Competitive Advantage in a Changing Industry

Finding Your Body Shop’s Competitive Advantage in a Changing Industry

Our business philosophy and strategy has taken us from the one 5,500-square-foot shop Dad started to the 17 locations we currently serve throughout New York.

When Dad started Carubba Collision back in 1955, competitive advantage was the result of quality workmanship. Auto body and collision repair was a craft, and technicians were craftsmen. The vehicle owner was the customer, and the mantra at the time was, “Quality is job No. 1.” In the 1960s, word of mouth, repeat customers and customer referrals were our primary source of business and growth.

Big Change

In Ben Franklin’s quote, “The only things certain in life are death and taxes,” he suggests that everything else is subject to change. And wow did the auto body business and industry begin to see more drastic change.

The 1970s brought more change as the unibody, front-wheel drive and lightweight high-strength steel started to become new realities, enabling the downsizing of vehicles that promised better gas mileage and structural integrity to better protect passengers during a collision.

Like many progressive auto body and collision repair shops, we still focused on quality, differentiating our shop by promoting equipment, tooling and facilities as the proof of our commitment to quality. Our advertising communicated our ability to deliver the best quality due to our modern facility and our investment in the most modern tooling: “We match the manufacturers’ paint quality by investing in our dedicated paint room and cross-flow spraybooth. Our unibody repair bench will restore your vehicle to its pre-damaged condition, and our trained technicians have over 300 collective years of experience.”

The 1980s

The 1980s brought about the most significant changes of the last three decades. The fax machine, IBM’s introduction of the personal computer, and software helped us become more business savvy, improve our estimating skills and understand key performance indicators, all of which were critical to our continued success. Computer-assisted estimating gave insurers the ability to develop and manage the DRP process, which had been introduced at a much smaller level nearly 20 years earlier.

Armed with a better understanding of the business, we expanded our focus to include the quality of our customer’s experience and improve our business efficiencies.

The Year 2000

Insurance companies continued to strengthen their DRPs in the early 2000s. We didn’t think of insurance-driven DRPs as a challenge; we saw them as an opportunity for continued growth and profitability. We recognized that critical to the insurer’s success was their ability to keep customers from leaving due to a poor claims (repair) experience, reduce cost by working with strategic business partners to lower cycle time and the cost of rental, and finally to deliver the best quality, speed and cost while delivering the highest-quality workmanship, the best customer (policyholder) experience, and the best length of rental – all at competitive price points.

Creating and maintaining the best quality, speed and cost is a win for the customer as well as the shop and the shop’s mutual customer, the vehicle owner.

Theory of Constraints

The theory of constraints (TOC) helped us develop a solid understanding of workflow and production scheduling and where we needed to focus our efforts. This understanding led us to the development of our A+ blueprinting and repair planning system.

Today

We believe our competitive advantage today is quality workmanship and the customer experience resulting from our investment in both technical and business training. We’re proud of our competitive advantage of speed and the fact that our average cycle time is better than the industry average.

And the only true competitive advantage is profit, because without profit, we could never make the commitment and investment in our ability to outperform our competitors. While we will not divulge how our bottom line is doing, suffice it to say that we’re doing OK.

Our business philosophy and strategy has taken us from the one 5,500-square-foot shop Dad started to the 17 locations we currently serve throughout New York.

We view employees, insurers and vehicle owners as customers and stakeholders. And we believe the root cause of our success, today and in the future, is understanding that:

  • Continuous growth has to be our goal.
  • Growing in today’s market requires us to increase market share.
  • Repeat, customer referrals, insurance referrals, DRP and OE certifications are strategic to own the position as repairer of choice in the markets we serve.
  • Creating and delivering the best quality, speed and cost is critical to owning the position of repairer of choice.
  • The best performance is the result of our teamwork and the best systems and processes.
  • The best systems and processes are the result of the best stakeholders (employees, insurers, suppliers).
  • The best stakeholders are the result of the culture we created.

You May Also Like

Auto Insurers and Total Losses

Is it legal for an insurance company to abandon the salvage of a vehicle they deemed a total loss?

“Is it legal for an insurance company to abandon the salvage of a vehicle they deemed a total loss? Insurance companies are using this more and more to get out of paying the fees incurred.” — Brice Thies, sales, Midtown Body & Paint, Lincoln, Neb.

Thank you for your question. First of all, I am not an attorney and cannot and do not offer legal advice or counsel. What I do offer is my collective experience, training and knowledge in such issues.

Are the Technician Shortage Tides Turning?

TechForce Foundation data shows that nearly 50,000 new automotive technicians joined the workforce in 2022, for a total of over 78,000 in two years.

Auto Insurance Fraud Works Both Ways

Unfortunately, for some insurers, fraud is becoming part of normal business practices.

Auto Body Shop Team-Building: What is Chemistry?

“Chemistry” is such a nebulous and mysterious concept that everyone struggles to put a finger on it.

Facebook Interest Groups: Down the Rabbit Hole We Go

I joined a Honda Civic 11th Gen Facebook group and quickly realized I was out of my element.

Other Posts

Collision Repairers: Take the Oath … Continued

Taking back the industry begins with collision repairers starting to work together for the benefit of both themselves and their customers.

AI and Auto Body

Artificial intelligence is making an impact in the auto body industry, streamlining the estimating process and improving the customer experience.

Building Charitable Giving into Your Auto Body Shop’s Business Plan

Planning, thoughtful implementation and thorough tracking of results will deliver a successful philanthropic program that also delivers a return on investment.

Exit Strategies: Personal Vision & Financial Planning

The most critical first step in an exit or transition plan is to develop a financial plan and personal vision of what your life will look like post-business.