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God and Family

Editor Jason Stahl takes a trip to Mansfield, Ohio, and finds a body shop owner who runs her business on faith.

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Jason Stahl has 28 years of experience as an editor, and has been editor of BodyShop Business for the past 16 years. He currently is a gold pin member of the Collision Industry Conference. Jason, who hails from Cleveland, Ohio, earned a bachelor of arts degree in English from John Carroll University and started his career in journalism at a weekly newspaper, doing everything from delivering newspapers to selling advertising space to writing articles.

I’m sitting in the office of DeLee Baker, owner of Baker’s Collision Repair Specialists in Mansfield, Ohio, home of the best eggroll in the universe – a determination I made an hour before while having lunch with her and my associate editor, Gina Kuzmick, at a local Chinese restaurant. When I ask Baker her thoughts on an eight-store operation recently scooping up another shop in her market area, I expected her to outline a strategy by which to compete with this goliath. But what she told me took me totally by surprise. I expected to hear about a complex business strategy, but instead I got an endorsement for faith.

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“We put God first, family second and then business,” said Baker. “We trust God will take care of us and things will work out for the best. Because we’ve had him so involved in our lives in all the generations – my mom and dad, my brother and myself – we’ve given him the glory. We don’t feel like we could have done this without his strength and fortitude.”

God aside, Baker realized several years ago that she needed to ramp up her mechanical services after finding out that a satisfied customer went to another body shop simply because, falling into the one-accident-every-seven-years statistic, he had forgotten about her shop. It just wasn’t at the top of his mind.

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“Our thought was that if we offered mechanical service to our customers in this area, whatever percent bring us their cars for service will also want to come to Baker’s when they get in a collision because Baker’s is ‘their’ shop,” Baker said.

And Baker has found that it’s the small touches that bring customers back, too, like the fresh-baked cookies they get before leaving. And a smile from her that can melt a polar ice cap.

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