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Keeping the Faith

Combining deep faith with business savvy, these shop owners have found peace of mind as well as loyal customers.

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Gina is a 2012 graduate of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University. A resident of Akron, Ohio, she currently serves as managing editor of BodyShop Business and previously held internships with multiple consumer and B2B publications. She is a member of the Women's Industry Network.

n tries to maintain a transparent, moral work environment by conducting business properly and above the table.
“What we say is what we do. That’s the bottom line,” he said.

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Jecker echoes Hagan, stating that having her customers’ best interests is her No. 1 priority.

“It’s not all about the dollar,” she said. “It’s about having happy customers. We’re just trying to run an honest business.”

sherri and nick jecker have this sign posted in their shop as a nod to their faith as well as their sense of humor.Peace of Mind
Running an honest and fair business doesn’t just comfort the customer; doing God’s will also offers the shop owner or manager peace of mind.

“My beliefs don’t allow me to lie to my customers,” said Perretta. “I can leave at the end of the day and my mind is clear. I’ve done the things that I tell people that I do. We aren’t fictitious. We’re very much in belief that we do the right things for people every day. That’s what’s kept me in business for the last 34 years.”

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Honesty doesn’t just apply to customers, though; it’s also relevant to insurance companies. Every shop has likely butted heads with insurers, but Hagan and Jecker both emphasize the need to be fair.

“You have to be the better person and stand up for what’s right, but do it in a respectful way,” said Jecker. “Sometimes maybe the only Jesus [others] see is through a Christian.”

Integrity has its price, though. “We lose some sales sometimes because I’m not willing to do anything dishonest or deceitful,” said Hagan. One example he cites is covering customers’ deductibles. “Whenever I have a customer ask me about covering their deductible, the first thing I say is that you have to cut corners somewhere. The profit margins are so thin in this business that you can’t afford to take $500 off the repairs. You’re going to do something deceitful in the repair process to make up for that $500.”

Customer Empathy
Another religious principle that’s applicable to the industry is empathy. A car wreck is obviously an extremely traumatic situation for any person, and Jecker keeps that in mind when interacting with customers.

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“There’s always troubles, you know. You just pray and get through day by day,” she said.
Jecker recalls one instance when a customer came into the shop and appeared to be going through some personal difficulties.

“Her mom had cancer and she was having a really hard time,” she explained. In the spirit of a Good Samaritan, her husband Nick gave the woman some money to ease her financial burden. “He was financially blessing her. We didn’t even really know her, but she was
so appreciative.”

although greg hagan of d-patrick autobody & glass serves as a pastor in his community, he doesn’t want customers to “feel like they’re in church.”Community
Religion also gives collision repairers a chance to contribute to their communities. After his battle with prostate cancer, Perretta saw an opportunity to educate fellow industry members about the disease – an opportunity he believes was presented by God.

“[God] healed me of the cancer and, knowing that I’m in a male-dominated industry and that I’m a pretty vocal guy, he also decided that I’m going to be a spokesman for [prostate cancer],” he said.

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Perretta conducts training for PPG throughout the country, and prior to every session, he discusses the testing and screening process with attendees. “I’m able to touch so many people and maybe save somebody’s life, all because of what I was put through.”

For the Jeckers, their customers are also their neighbors.

“We’ve been in this community all our lives, and when we go to the grocery store or when we go out to a restaurant, we’re more than likely going to run into one of our customers,” said Sherri. “I want to be able to not be embarrassed by the workmanship or quality of
our repairs.”

As a pastor, Hagan uses his community prominence as a means to organize social events. His church partners with his shop to host events such as Race for the Cure and other local functions, and he also works as an I-CAR instructor.

“I have multiple hats that I wear, so I’m pretty busy connecting,” he said.

From this sign, it’s clear Ron Perretta is big on educating his customers. But he also educates his colleagues – on prostate cancer, an opportunity he believes was given to him by God.Faith and Business

For some, finding that balance of work and faith is easier than for others. Hagan believes a combination of the two allows for business to thrive.

“With religion, you’re looking at how you can help others and meet their needs, whereas in business, if you’ve got a painter, he has to meet your needs and the customers’ needs,” Hagan says.

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Hagan also emphasizes that finding a balance helps maintain a professional work environment.

“I know a lot of people who use Christianity overzealously,” he said. “I try to be very careful with that. I don’t want people to be overwhelmed or feel like they’re in church or offend anybody who might have a different faith or belief.”

Similarly, Perretta believes that religion alone cannot drive a business.

“Your beliefs and your business savvy have to intermix with each other,” he said. “You pray for God to improve what you do, not for him to give you something. And when you do that, he seems to always give you something anyway.”

For these three individuals, it seems that this balance has resulted in success that will continue for years to come.

“It’s not a church,” said Hagan. “You don’t have to compromise your faith, but you do have to run the business.”

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