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Profit Centers for Collision Repair Shops

Here’s a quick look at some add-on businesses that could increase your overall revenues.

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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.

In tough times, every little bit counts. The economy hasn’t exactly been booming over the last couple years, so body shops looking to squeak out a little extra profit would be wise to take a look at some add-on businesses that just might supplant any lost income they’ve had.

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One of the pitfalls of adding on a new business is expecting to buy the tools, training and materials and then magically start earning a boatload of money. But the bottom line is that it has to be marketed, managed and aggressively sold to make it a thriving contributor to your profits. It may take several years, but if you stick to it and don’t treat it like an ugly stepchild, you should be rewarded.

Take a look at some of the following add-on businesses and contemplate whether any of them are right for you. After all, a little bit can sometimes add up to a lot.

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Sprayed-On Bedliners

Investment: $1,500

Avg. gross profit margin per job: 30-60%

Avg. retail price per job: $395-$495

Avg. job time: 2-5 hours

Equipment needed: Air compressor, factory authorized spray gun, 36-grit cup brush, half-mask chemical respirator

“There are guys out there who say they can do a bedliner in three to four hours, but as long as I’ve been doing it, unless you have a crew of four or five guys working on the same truck, I don’t see it happening – especially if you’re going to prep it and shoot it the proper way.” – Bill Harris, Xtreme Street & Marine Customz, Georgetown, Texas

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Paintless Dent Repair

Investment: $4,000-$15,000

Avg. gross profit margin per job: 50-75%

Avg. retail price per job: $50-90 per dent

Avg. job time: Varies wildly depending on dent and experience of tech

Equipment needed: Paintless dent repair tools, accessory kit, PDR light

PDR increases the efficiency of the conventional body shop. It frees up the paint booth for larger repairs and enables smaller repairs to be completed in a single process rather than painting and blending to adjacent panels, thus reducing material costs. Many insurance companies are writing hail-damaged vehicles to be repaired by PDR, so it is becoming vital for body shops to offer this service to remain competitive.

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Customization

Investment: $2,000

Avg. gross profit margin per job: 40-60%

Avg. retail price per job: $500 to $15,000

Avg. job time: 10 hours and up

Equipment needed: Sheet metal tools, strip tape, airbrush, pounce wheel, template paper

“Custom work is very rewarding for the shop as it spreads word-of-mouth and shows what your technicians can do when they really shine. Our custom work has been in a number of magazines, at the race track and local car shows. It separates the average shop from the can-do shops. At one time, we were doing over $75,000 a year, which was great when the holidays hit. Our big-ticket race cars were keeping us busy through our off months (holidays). We also did our company truck up with some body mods and a flame job, and it has always drawn customers to our shop as they know if we can do the custom work, matching their factory paint work is no problem.” — Bob Winfrey, owner, All Precision Collision Repair, Marshville, N.C.

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Pinstriping

Investment: Less than $100

Avg. gross profit margin per job: 75%

Avg. retail price per job: $100

Avg. job time: 30 minutes

Equipment needed: Stencil tapes and paints for paint pinstriping, brush, Prepsol or wax remover, clean, soft rags, single-edge razor blades


Detailing

Investment: $3,000-$5,000

Avg. gross profit margin per job: 50-65%

Avg. retail price per job: $150-$300

Avg. job time: 1-2 hours

Equipment needed: Rotary buffer, orbital buffer, wet-dry vacuum, extractor, air compressor, brushes and wash tools, towels, chemicals, car wash shampoo, tar, bug and sap remover, spot remover, concentrated tire and wheel cleaner, carpet and upholstery shampoo and extractor shampoo, distilled white vinegar and ammonia, penetrating oil, odor killer/neutralizer, leather and vinyl cleaner, glass cleaner, glass and chrome polish, polish (heavy, medium and fine), detailing clay, wax (carnauba and synthetic), quick detailing spray, leather conditioner, interior vinyl dressing, exterior vinyl and rubber dressing and rubber and black trim restorer.

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Sprayed-On Chrome

Investment: $10,000

Avg. gross profit margin per job: 75%

Avg. retail price per job: $200-$500

Avg. job time: 1 hour

Equipment needed: HV-T system and chemistry

Applying chrome of any color over anything generates huge profits in unlimited, diversified markets. This process easily integrates into an existing body shop with minimal investment.


Window Tinting

Investment: $300

Avg. gross profit margin per job: 70-75%

Avg. retail price per job: $175

Avg. job time: 2 hours

Equipment needed: Professional trigger sprayer, waist apron, heat gun, Silver Olfa cutter, extra pack of Olfa blades, teflon card squeegees, Conqueror squeegee and Blue Max squeegee

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Installing window film has a great profit. You control how much you want to make, and it gives your customers’ cars a great new look.


Glass Installation/Repair

Investment: $10,000-$20,000

Avg. gross profit margin per job: 35%

Avg. retail price per job: $350

Avg. job time: 2 hours

Equipment needed: Glass removal equipment

“It’s better for the shop to do it in-house from a cycle-time standpoint. You can wait for somebody to come and do it, and meanwhile the car sits there waiting. You’re at the mercy of the glass tech then.” – Mitch Becker, technical instructor for ABRA Auto Body & Glass

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