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The Final Chapter: The Slates

During the past year, BodyShop Business brought to you the Slates, new body shop owners in Tennessee who shared their trials and triumphs with us, hoping to help others who encounter similar situations.

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We first introduced them in our June ’96 issue,
and now, it’s time to say good-bye. They’re staying in the business,
but they’re stepping aside to let another pair of shop owners
share their business experiences with us. (We’ll introduce you
to them soon.)

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In this final chapter, the Slates look back
on their past two years as shop owners and share with us what
they wouldn’t – and would – do differently if given the chance.

A Look Back …

  • We would not change our decision to purchase the body
    shop and to switch careers. Although we both had very good jobs
    working with good companies and friends, we made the right choice
    for us. Since this was the fifth shop we considered purchasing,
    we also feel we bought the right one.
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  • We would not change our decision to buy an existing
    business. This shop has been here for more than 50 years and enjoys
    a reputation that we could not immediately duplicate. I guess
    this could backfire on a buyer if the shop had a bad reputation,
    but in our case, it didn’t. Another great benefit is that business
    is already in motion. The burden of getting the momentum of business
    flowing was not a problem for us. Our problem was getting ourselves
    to catch up with the business and trying to manage it.
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  • We would not change getting involved with organizations,
    like SCRS, I-CAR, ASA and the Chamber of Commerce, and associating
    our business with strong suppliers that are active in these groups.
    We’ve benefited immeasurably from this involvement by getting
    to know other local shops and the people who knit our businesses
    together. These people have provided sound advice, as well as
    assisted us in locating good employees.

  • We would not change our habit of reading trade publications
    to keep up to date. Paul has subscribed to BodyShop Business for
    many, many years and actually used the 1990 through 1995 annual
    industry profiles to compile data to base our business projections,
    which were submitted to our bank. We need to keep informed about
    our changing industry.
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  • We would change our decision to try to totally computerize
    a noncomputerized business immediately. It was a good idea to
    shift to computerized estimating, but we tried to convert the
    shop management, accounting, job costing, parts ordering and personnel
    management over all at once. We should have waited to add the
    shop management and accounting software for a later date. This
    would have relieved a lot of stress in trying to implement a new
    system in an already busy shop by two new owners who had never
    even heard of multiple supplements on one job. We had more to
    be concerned about than computerizing our total process.
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  • Our first year was filled with many learning experiences,
    [along with adjusting] to being entrepreneurs. This business lifestyle
    is completely different than our previous work. In our past jobs,
    we had a sense of security [that we wouldn’t fail.] Now, it’s
    up to us to make things work, without having the luxury of being
    isolated from failure. It’s a very exciting business that we truly
    enjoy [running] together.

    BodyShop Business would like to thank the Slates for sharing
    the past year of their lives with us. We wish them well!

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    In an upcoming issue, watch for our next couple, Darrell and Janet
    Schroll, shop owners in Kansas who brought their shop back from
    near death.

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