5 Ways to Stand Apart from the Competition
SHOP STATS: Automotive Excellence, Inc Location: North Royalton, Ohio. Operator: Sacha family Average Monthly Car Count: 90 Staff Size: 10 Shop Size: 15,000 square feet Annual Revenue: $1.5 million
Rick Sacha has never worked on a car in all 33 years his family has owned Automotive Excellence Inc.
However, he had plenty of experience mopping and cleaning the floors.
Sacha spent his years growing up by helping out in the shop’s paint department. He then attended college and gained a degree in business management. After school, he worked as an insurance adjuster before finally coming back to the shop and bringing both areas of expertise into the business as its body shop manager.
“Rick is so well liked by our customers that they have become second-generation customers,” says Chris Zver, parts manager for Automotive Excellence in the 2015 Awards nomination. “He goes over and above, lending an ear when a customer tells in detail how their accident happened, even lending a shoulder when they cry.”
Sacha was nominated for the 2015 FenderBender Awards for his expertise in customer service and community involvement. Lending a shoulder for customers to cry on was no big feat for Sacha, who values customer service.
Now, the shop produces roughly $1.5 million in annual revenue and stays in tune with industry changes like aluminum repair—all because of Sacha’s ability to learn the industry ins and outs and emphasis on customer service.
The Lost Art of Customer Service
Sacha will take the extra 10 minutes to talk to customers about their car’s repair process because he says the manager needs to focus on the customer’s traumatic experience.
He treats everyone with integrity and honesty. Sacha’s golden rule for customer service is to treat each car like you’re working on your own vehicle. For the customer, the car is most likely his or her second-biggest life purchase after buying a house.
He says he will let the customer even cry on his shoulder, whether the tears stem from joy that his or her vehicle was fixed or sadness because his or her vehicle was totaled.
The Marketing Technique
In his free time, Sacha coaches his two sons’ football and baseball teams. He’ll advertise the shop on the back of their jerseys. And every start of the holiday season from roughly Thanksgiving and on, Sacha has the shop participate in a local food drive.
Yelp reviews help drive traffic to the shop, too. Sacha has learned that when he promotes the training certifications the shop technicians have, more customers leave positive reviews.
The Effect of Training
Sacha sends his team to training about once per month or at least once every two months. Currently, all his technicians are I-CAR Gold certified and even though Sacha does not work on any vehicles himself, he is also I-CAR Platinum certified.
By not neglecting training, Sacha was able to learn the importance of aluminum repair work and about five years ago, invested in a separate aluminum repair area.
And he sets the example by attending training periodically with his staff.
The Body Shop and Mechanic Duo
While the shop does about 75 percent DRP work, the staff is also able to save time on cycle time by doing all mechanical work in-house.
Sacha says not having to sublet the computer and structural work to another repair shop has enabled the shop to refine its cycle time to roughly four days. Simply being able to replace air bags and work on suspensions has cut down the shop’s cycle time.
In order to manage both mechanical and repair work, Sacha makes sure to meet once per month and gather both the mechanical and body shop teams together. These meetings allow Sacha to address miscommunication issues in the process.
The Way to Delegate
As body shop manager, Sacha is able to get help from his shop foreman and his family, like his brother, who is the shop’s parts director.
Sacha says it is important to meet with the shop’s managers and discuss issues in repair procedures. He’ll meet at least once per day with his shop foreman and another technician to brainstorm solutions to any repair problems.
Sacha’s go-to resources are CCC repair method procedures and I-CAR. He also uses information his parts manager brings back from weekly business networking meetings. His brother will meet with owners of other local businesses and share strategies for growth.