News: Collision Industry Icon Jeff Silver Passes Away
The collision-repair industry is big business.
In 1995, shops averaged an annual gross-sales volume of $415,168.
With shop profits soaring that high – even higher at Dun &
Bradstreet’s "Top 100" facilities – owners are as much
businessmen as they are technicians, estimators and managers.
And just like any other business leaders, shop owners are interested
in efficiency, profits and success.
Unfortunately, there’s no one secret to success.
What does exist, however, are thousands of industry insiders –
other shop owners like you – brimming with management ideas, business
plans and financial strategies – each valid, each profitable and
each with a different focus. It’s up to the shrewd businessman
to examine each idea and shape it to fit his shop’s needs.
Offering a little insider trading – of ideas
that is – owners and presidents of shops listed by Dun & Bradstreet
as the "Top 100" share the secrets of their success.
"We’ve always strived for satisfied customers
by doing quality work. We don’t cut any corners; we do it right
the first time. We don’t consider a customer a number, and if
a customer has a question, we do everything we can to give him
an answer that shows we care that we worked on his car.
"I don’t do any advertising – my work
is my advertisement. And a satisfied customer or word of mouth
is the best advertisement you can have. I guess quality is the
Steve Norrid, president, Norrid Paint &
Body Shop, Inc., No. 38
"Do what you say you’re going to do,
and if you make a mistake, fix it – don’t duplicate it. Win the
customers over. No matter what referral source they came from,
make them customers for life."
Bruce Mackie, president, Mackie Enterprises,
Inc., No. 1
"I retain two full-time marketing people
whose job is to be on the street calling on insurance agents,
and they report directly to me as president. We’re constantly
seeking agreement and developing relationships with agents; we
think that’s very important. [Getting involved with DRPs] is really
up to the individual shop. It depends on how you’re structured
and what you want to do with the business. With us, we’re more
volume oriented and we rely on [DRPs]."
Richard Nay, president, J.B. Faith Inc.,
"We’re COD on all our work. In other
words, every car gets paid for before it leaves. Before I went
COD, I had $400,000 in receivables. Today, that $400,000 is in
my bank account drawing me $2,000 a month in interest. I also
don’t need a full-time receivables person anymore, which saves
a full-time salary. Also, in collecting money from the insurance
companies, I’m never short $80 here or $100 there because they
say something wasn’t authorized. If they try to short me $80 or
$100, I don’t release the vehicle.
"With the money [the insurance companies]
aren’t nickel and diming from me plus the full-time position that
I don’t need plus the interest, going COD is probably worth $125,000
a year to me."
Bob Juniper, president, Three C Body Shop,
Inc., No. 11
"You have to hire the best people, pay
them the money and empower them. We work on self-directed work
teams and we empower the people to run those teams. We have three
locations, and management runs the shops. Most of our people have
worked their way up in our organization. We prefer to promote
from within because those people have learned our work philosophies
along the way."
Wayne Baker, president, Alamo Body &
Paint, Inc., No. 42
"You have to be an astute individual
to be successful in any endeavor and that requires paying attention
to the industry. You have to look at which way the trends are
going and try to position yourself to take advantage of upcoming
changes. Obviously, you need to be industry specific. You need
to have the best equipment, the best trained people and the best
systems and procedures – that gives you the edge to stay competitive.
It’s also important to read a lot, particularly industry-specific
information, to attend the national and local conventions, and
to be involved in industry associations.
James Cook, president, James M. Cook’s
Auto Body, No. 44
"The success of the body shops today
stems from being members of [industry associations] and having
all your employees I-CAR trained. I-CAR’s probably the only program
that’s accepted by everybody; in fact, it seems to be the standard
the insurance companies are looking at also."
Bobby McAlister, president, McAlister’s
Body and Tires, No. 46
"What it takes to be successful is to
work hard. We’ve always looked at repairing a customer’s vehicle
as if it were our own and treated our customers right. Sixty-five
percent of our work is repeat or referrals, so we really try to
live by that. We try to do a good job for everyone and try to
stay current with everything that’s going on in the industry."
Mark Cantrell, co-owner/manager, McLeod Auto
Body, No. 21
"The keys to attaining status among the
Top 100 collision shops nationally are a commitment to quality
workmanship, professional and competent personnel dealing with
the consumer, and a sincere desire to restore all vehicles to
a level exceeding their preaccident condition."
Roy Fowler, president, Fowler’s Body Shop,
Inc., No. 39
"Our sales are up 29 percent over last
year, and we did that by acquiring more accounts. We picked up
a couple dealer accounts, and we’re doing work for Enterprise
leasing. We’re also looking for more DRPs – we’ve been an Allstate
DRP shop for six years. And we do work for the county police force.
Everything together has helped us boost our sales."
Edward Vallejos, president, Professional
Auto Paint & Body, No. 58