The Devil is in the Details at Dave’s Autobody - BodyShop Business

The Devil is in the Details at Dave’s Autobody

Editor Jason Stahl visited Dave's Autobody in Galesburg, Ill., on Feb. 17 and discovered some unique things the shop is doing to "own" customers.

standing out from the crowd: a palm tree in galesburg, ill.a clean, professional front-desk area tells customers this ain't no ordinary body shop.a neat, organized cart ensures the tech will have everything he or she needs at the ready.a full-time cleaning person ensures that employees will have a healthy, safe environment...and does wonders to dispel the myth that all body shops are dirty.the paint mixing room is as spic-and-span as the rest of the shop.Two detailers on one car provides for more efficient service – important with as many details as Dave's Autobody does.The
first thing you notice when you visit Dave’s Autobody is the life-sized
palm tree out front. This is Galesburg, Ill., for Pete’s sake. But the
more you think about it, the more it makes sense. It sure makes the
business stand out from the street. And what do you think about when
you see palm trees? Ocean breezes, the smell of coconut oil,
relaxation…kind of the perfect thoughts after a nasty collision, right?

With so many collision repairers lamenting about the loss of customers
to insurer steering, Dave’s seems to have the perfect fix. It’s called
Detail For Life, the brainchild of owner Dave Dunn (who also owns Masters School of Autobody Management)
that’s also a registered trademark. If Dave’s repairs a customer’s
collision of $2,000 or greater on a standard passenger vehicle, the
shop will detail the customer’s car as long as he or she owns it, up to
four times per year. It’s no surprise, then, that Dave’s employs five
full-time detailers. That’s right, FIVE full-time detailers.

“Some shops don’t hold detailers to the same standards as technicians
or painters, but to us, they do just as important of a job as anybody,”
says Rob Dunn, son of Dave Dunn and production manager of Dave’s
Autobody. “Also, we screen them in the interview process just as
rigorously as any other person applying for other positions.”

A Detail for Life can also be purchased for a new car for $1,200. For
non-customers looking for a one-time detail, Dave’s offers different
levels at different prices, from a hand wash at $19.95 to a total
detail at $199.

Walking through the shop, you notice how neat and tidy it is. The floor
in the production area is the same as in the front office – tile that
you wouldn’t be embarrassed to have in your own home. And the
production area is startlingly clean – the floors are immaculate, the
smells minimal and no filler dust coating anything. And it’s no wonder
since Dave’s employs a full-time cleaning person!

Most shops’ paint mixing rooms look like Jackson Pollock paintings,
with spills and drops everywhere, but this area at Dave’s was also
spotless. Even the guns were lined up just so on a stainless steel
shelf. Parts carts at each work station kept tools organized and all in
one easy-to-find place.

Also, in a day and age when insurers are winning the game of staying
“top of mind” with consumers, Dave’s is holding its own and then some.
With the average consumer only getting in an accident once every seven
years, it’s easy for them to lose touch with a body shop. But not with
Dave’s. Dunn has employed a variety of innovative tactics to “tattoo”
his shop name on consumers’ brains, including handing out free hot
sauce with the Dave’s Autobody logo on it, putting the logo on hats,
shirts and golf gloves (QUALITY stuff, not junk, Dunn says – “If it’s
junk, people won’t wear it or will just throw it away”), and perhaps
most remarkably holding a local Autobody Idol and Autobody Idol for
Kids competition. The contest was modeled after the insanely popular
“American Idol” TV show and had contestants singing Dave’s advertising
jingle. The winners’ songs are now posted on Dave’s Web site, along
with the original jingle. The original jingle, Dunn says, was so
popular that people he ran into on the street around town would sing it
to him.

At a Glance

Name: Dave’s Autobody
Location: Galesburg, Ill.
Established: 1977
Square Footage: 10,000
Owner: Dave Dunn
No. of Employees: 28
2009 Gross Sales: Nearly $4 million
Repair Volume/Cars Per Month: 350-500, including details
Average Repair Cost: $2,200
DRPs: 2 (Dunn: “We don’t chase any DRPs that involve discounting.”)

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