Proactively Working One’s Way Up
Jessica Neely started out as a detailer when she was young and fresh out of high school in 2010. She wanted to branch out, make more money as a young professional and find a new role for herself.
“Honestly, I had just gotten out of high school and I needed a job,” Neely says.
After graduation, she went to join her mother at Nagy’s Collision Centers and became a detailer. After four years, she worked her way to estimator.
Neely, who was nominated for the 2018 FenderBender Awards, is now estimator for the Nagy’s Collision Center in Doylestown, Ohio. While she did not start out in the automotive industry with gung-ho passion, she has become a shining star for the body shop.
“She’s never worked on a car before but she understands the repair flow, cause and effect, and problem solving,” says J.R. Noe, general manager of the Doylestown location.
Neely does not freeze in the face of problems, he says. She is proactive every day and gets right back to a solution. Now, her “can-do” attitude is propelling her toward a future career in shop management, she says. Through simple actions like creating to-do lists each day to investing time and taking training seriously to expand her skillset, Neely has become a stand-out employee in the eyes of her manager.
Her Proactive Way
While Neely does not aim to someday work on the shop floor, she keeps an open mind to improving and growing within the workplace, she says.
In her current role, Neely stays ahead and organized through detailed lists. She keeps her lists “old school” and records everything with pen and paper.
“When I know I have several things to do, I prioritize them,” Neely says.
One of the first items on her lists are supplements. She says she tries to finish those first each day. When Neely gets into the office, one of the first steps she does is to go to her manager to consult on what he’d like her to accomplish for the day.
Her manager, Noe, will usually have her write a few estimates first thing in the morning.
“She has the ability to not just stay in the box as an estimator,” Noe says. “We lost someone for three to four weeks due to illness and Jessica, especially, came forward to help and provide problem-solving.”
Yet, Neely’s process is a little more intricate because she aims to go home every day with nothing on her list. Every day in the shop, Neely encounters different customers. If a customer calls that was not recommended by an insurance company as part of the shop’s direct repair relationship, Neely will focus on the customers within the shop first. Her last part of the day will focus on ordering parts and going over supplements.
“I make lists because I can easily get distracted with customers walking in for estimates,” she says. “The customer standing in front of you should take priority.”
Her Future Goals
Neely’s future plans, she says, involve working her way to a manager position, and possibly an auditor position, so she can check others’ estimates to find what someone may have missed.
While her transition at Nagy’s Collision Centers was not perfect, by any means, she wants to continue focusing on reaching job goals.
For example, she says she did not know about alignments and tasks like frame checking at the beginning of her job. She did not know the difference between repair versus replace. She did not know the details of how the paint department reached the end of a job or how to blend paint.
So, she had to invest in the training the collision repair shop offered, she says.
Neely participated in training every other month in order to become an estimator and is now joining a company-wide initiative to improve customer service training. The training is comprised of eight modules, two of which she has completed so far.
Currently, her duties include receiving photos of the repair job, writing the preliminary estimate, uploading it to insurance companies and following through on that process. She says she also is trying to enroll in as many I-CAR classes as possible to learn more about collision repair.
“At this point, more training would help me become more knowledgeable and confident in my estimating,” she says.