Shop Life

Snap Shop: Referral Collision

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Shop Stats: Referral Collision Owner/operators: Jesse and Cathy Ruhmann Location: Shakopee, Minn. Size: 24,000 square feet Staff: 11 employees Annual Revenue: $1.6 million Average monthly car count: 95

Customer Care Center

Jesse and Cathy Ruhmann met each other working at one large MSO in the collision repair industry, got married and opened their own shop in 2015 in Shakopee, Minn. The original building comprised a customer service area and a shop floor in a total of 5,000 square feet. The building had 1,000 square feet of office space and 4,000 square feet of production space. About a year after opening the original office, the shop ran out of space and acquired more space in the same building complex, bringing it to a total of 8,000 square feet. 

The owners rapidly outgrew their first location, they say. 

Now, the original location is solely a customer service facility in which customers come to get estimates, vehicles get washed, and vehicles get pre-scanned before being routed to the production center.

Production Center

In 2019, the shop announced the opening of a second facility that will become the primary production facility. That roughly 16,000-square-foot building is located down the same block from the original location. 

“It’s very traumatic for some people to go through accidents and part of the reason we separated the customer service and production is because we don’t want customers to drive into the parking lot and see a lot full of damaged cars,” says Cathy Ruhmann.

The production facility has 14 bays and two heavy-duty truck bays. 

Community Connection

Jesse Ruhmann says he has been a firefighter in Bloomington, Minn., for 13 years. As a firefighter in the community, he has been able to network and bring in more work for the shop, including repairs on heavy-duty trucks like his team’s fire trucks. The new production facility can accommodate large tractor/trailers and fire trucks. 

And, Ruhmann made more customer connections when he met people through the fire department’s events and families of his co-workers at the station, ultimately getting them on board to come to the shop if there were issues.

The shop’s 11 employees have deep roots in the community, as well. While Referral Collision opened four years ago in 2015, Jesse Ruhmann and his wife found all their staff through word-of-mouth recommendations. 

Detail Concentrated

In the design of the customer service area, Cathy Ruhmann, adds in an extra customer service touch for parents coming into the shop. She provides parents and their kids with a “kid care bag” that includes crayons, a coloring book, a rubber ducky, and a blank piece of paper with stickers that children can build their own street rods on. She will also turn on the television in the waiting room to a kid-friendly Netflix show in order to allow the parents a moment to breathe and discuss their vehicle’s issues.

On the shop floor, manager Greg Downer places emphasis on quality control checks in the repair process. Each vehicle is passed along to the technician with a packet of information on that specific make and model’s repair process and a checklist for each step of the repair. 

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