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What’s the Bright Idea?

Shop owners share their thoughts on how to make their businesses – and yours – more successful

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Sharing ideas is a good way to help shop owners
improve their operations. Here, we share the ideas of some Automotive
Service Association (ASA) members on how to generate additional
revenue or increase bottom-line profit, how to smooth out or improve
production and how to increase sales.

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  • Ideas that would most likely generate additional revenue
    or increase bottom-line profit:

"Paint entire panels instead of just painting the edges,
then they can be installed and the car sent out."

Sharon Schoennoehl, Floyd’s Carstar Body & Glass, Boonville, Mo.

"We’re currently painting a lot of visors, running boards,
etc., for a couple of different companies, along with those that
we do as part of the collision-repair process. I’m studying the
possibility of purchasing these items ourselves. Installation
should not be difficult. Plus, with the explosion of growth in
utility vehicles and the seemingly endless desire for owners to
tinker with them, the prospects look good."

Rick Bremer, Robinson Body Shop, Inc., Moskegon, Mich.

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"Give a sales talk on additional work that could be performed
[at a profit] while doing the actual repairs. You can also sell
additional items to take care of customers’ vehicles – like waxes,
chamois, glazing products or any car-care supplies. The customers
will buy them."

Shirley Steinman, Ben’s Auto Body Car Star, Inc., Mexico, Mo.

"Charge more and don’t give any discounts."

John R. Franck, Franck Bros., Inc., Louisville, Ky.

"Our customers’ cars now have higher mileage. By installing
a balancer and mount machine, we can sell our customers on tire
and suspension work."

George Haiship, Auto Alignment, Inc., Raleigh, N.C.

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  • Ideas to improve production:

"Highlight each department in a different color on work orders
so each technician only has to look at his department."

Sharon Schoennoehl, Floyd’s Carstar Body & Glass, Boonville, Mo

" ‘Adopt a Student.’ With the cooperation of local high schools
and their counselors, we hire a junior or senior for part-time
work (full time for summers). They should be interested in pursuing
an automotive career. After high school, we encourage and assist
in vocational training with scholarships, loans and employment."

John Westlund and Michael Seger, Lehman’s Garage, Minneapolis,
Minn.

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"ASAMI seminars on streamlining the production process for
collision repairs. This seminar should address estimating parts,
ordering/check-ins and management; collision-technician strategies
for efficient production; and refinish-technician strategies for
efficient production."

John Padula, Padula’s Body Shop, Inc., Tallmadge, Ohio

"Clean up the paint-mixing area and tile the mixing-room
floor, which makes it look cleaner and brighter. Air-quality inspectors
perceive the paint area as very professional. The painter will
stay in his ‘office’ to do his record keeping because there are
less fumes from spillage, and the tile floor is easily cleaned.
The floor is also easier on the back and feet because there are
no clumps and globs of paint on the floor to be stepped on all
day."

Kevin Caldwell, Autobody by Caldwell, Laguna Hills, Calif.

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"Run your organization similar to the government or the military.
Have daily, monthly and yearly meetings to share your progress
and enthusiasm with employees on projects and future goals so
all people are included as a team."

John R. Franck, Franck Bros., Inc., Louisville, Ky.

"We expanded our cleanup and detail departments, and we made
our bookkeeping department get involved in checking in cars on
busy days, making them more functional to start the production
process instead of analyzing it at the end."

George Haiship, Auto Alignment, Inc., Raleigh, N.C.

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  • Ideas that would most likely increase sales:

"Get more repeat business by sending the customer’s car out
smelling great (not like a body shop) by putting a Bounty dryer
sheet under the front seats."
Sharon Schoennoehl, Floyd’s Carstar Body & Glass, Boonville,
Mo.

"Purchase a list of home buyers in the local zip-code areas.
The company furnishes the name, address, phone number, amount
of the sale and the name of the mortgage holder on one sheet of
paper. Another has self-stick labels of their name and address,
which we mail to them.

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"Also, any person who refers a new customer to us receives
a certificate good for a dinner. This form of advertising gets
paid after we make money from a sale. We’re currently ahead of
our best efforts in our 46 years in the business, but the amount
we mail runs 60 to 70 certificates."

Vaun L. Hamlin, Hamlin’s, Bridgeville, Pa.

"To increase sales means getting out and making more contacts
with agents and anyone else who would be beneficial in the business
of repairs."

Shirley Steinman, Ben’s Auto Body Car Star, Inc., Mexico, Mo.

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"Join and participate in sales clubs and local organizations.
Donating your time and services to schools, churches and civic
clubs will give you much gratification, not to mention added friends
and increased sales."

John R. Franck, Franck Bros., Inc., Louisville, Ky.

"CSI reports and follow-ups. Sales help can call on key accounts
and share CSI statistics."

George Haiship, Auto Alignment, Inc., Raleigh, N.C.

Quotes reprinted courtesy of ASA.

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