I didn’t plan on being in the collision repair business. In 1997, I was working as a paralegal in Denver when my brother Jeff asked me to help with accounting at his growing collision repair shop. When he decided to build a ground-up location across town, I was pressed into full-time duty and left my paralegal job behind.
My legal background was helpful in negotiating real estate and building the new location, but with no body shop experience, I had to teach myself the collision repair business day by day. When that location opened in 2001, I became part of the leadership team.
A Crazy Journey
Today, as the co-owner of three collision repair locations in Denver — CARSTAR Ideal Northglenn, CARSTAR Ideal Arvada and CARSTAR Ideal Littleton — I manage all aspects of the business, from the technical side of collision repairs to customer service, estimating and bookkeeping. It’s been one heck of a journey, complete with a few bumps and wrong turns on the road to success.
Our business was greatly impacted by 9/11, and we were faced with the challenge of owning a new 20,000-square-foot building and experiencing a decline in business. Because I lacked experience in the industry, I knew I needed help to survive. CARSTAR became the solution. My brother and I embraced everything that was offered to us through CARSTAR and learned to run our business by the numbers. It took time and a willingness to relearn everything we were doing in order to survive the economic environment in 2007 and 2008.
Once we had a solid foundation in place, I was able to work with my brother to start growing the business. We set goals and worked with CARSTAR and our peers in the industry to map out our plans. We learned to adapt to the constant changes within our industry and never stop trying to learn.
One critical thing I’ve learned is the importance of the numbers. I think we have a very strong understanding of our numbers. We make sure our data every month is clean and concise. You cannot measure your business without having reliable numbers.
A second critical thing I learned is the value of networking. I’ve developed many relationships with CARSTAR owners around the country, as well as non-CARSTAR owners and vendor partners. Their input and experience are tremendously valuable, because any challenge I run into, they may have already faced.
A third thing I learned is that our team is our biggest asset. My brother and I have surrounded ourselves with very talented staff, including several family members. Quite frankly, we could not do what we do without them. They truly are our key to success.
The bottom line is that anyone can succeed in the collision repair industry. Working in this business has turned into an exciting and rewarding career for me. Now, I want to do what I can to inspire future generations and get them excited about this industry.