Building Industry Contacts
For Jack Lamborghini, collision repair had become an endless string of conflicts.
“It became not fun to go to work,” the shop co-owner recalls of life back in 2002. “Because every interaction at the time became, in essence, a fistfight.”
Negotiating with the likes of insurers for compensation became so frustrating that Lamborghini left the industry entirely—a story he shared with FenderBender back in 2014 (fenderbender.com/mistakes).
“I was disgusted with the industry,” he recalls. “I had been very frustrated with the insurance side, in terms of how we were getting compensated and how they were trying to dictate our repairs. I was in an adversarial position constantly with the insurance companies, and it really got to me.
“So, I did a couple years of semi-retirement and bought another business that left me completely unfulfilled.”
The longtime collision repairer took a brief detour into a career owning an embroidery business. But that profession simply didn’t scratch an itch. He quickly grew tired of the slow pace. He missed the sense of urgency that surrounds collision repair work, and having customers rely on him to help get their vehicles back on the road.
By 2006, Lamborghini had returned to the body shop realm. And, he has co-owned Total Care Accident Repair in Raynham, Mass., since 2010, helping grow the venture into a $3.3-million-per-year business.
“I got back in, and realized that the business still had a lot of really great elements,” he says. “Now, I have no intent of getting out of the business.”
Lamborghini is as motivated as ever, and has become an industry advocate. Joining organizations like AASP-Massachusetts and meeting like-minded industry peers has helped stoke his passion for the industry. That’s why Lamborghini suggests young collision repairers make a point to connect with colleagues and build industry contacts. Here are his suggestions for accomplishing that.
Engage with local shop associations.
Lamborghini, whose current shop has a 99 percent CSI score, is a staunch advocate of joining state associations like those run by AASP. After all, being able to bounce ideas off peers in your region can help you make valuable tweaks to business procedures.
“The key is getting involved with your local auto body association,” says Lamborghini, who currently chairs a committee to improve Massachusetts’ labor rate, which averages around $38. “Associations are difficult to maintain; you’ve got a bunch of independent business people … and the wheels of progress don’t always turn quickly.”
But, if shop operators want to improve industry issues like labor rates and the utilization of OEM repair procedures, Lamborghini feels it’s imperative that they get active with industry organizations.
“The thing I’ve learned,” he says, “is that you can either be part of the problem or part of the solution. And, to sit on the sidelines today is not an option—if you want to try and fix something, you need to participate.”
Take full advantage of industry events.
Lamborghini has long prided himself on attending any industry event of widespread relevance. He estimates that, at one point, he attended NACE for 15 years in a row.
And, during his lengthy collision repair career, Lamborghini has made sure to stuff his pockets with as many business cards as he could get his hands on during industry events.
“I’ve made a lot of industry contacts through paint companies, and the jobber,” he says, “and the nice thing is, through the jobber and the paint companies at those industry events, you get introduced to lots of people—real interesting networking goes on.”
Find, and join, a 20 Group.
While Lamborghini, 66, admits he’s “on the back 9” of his career, he wants to see the industry’s younger shop operators thrive for years to come. And, the best way to do that is by joining a 20 Group, he says.
Over the years, the lessons Lamborghini has gleaned from 20 Groups have been invaluable.
“First, join your local shop association. Then you can talk to your paint manufacturers about 20 Groups,” Lamborghini says. “Because most paint manufacturers are still sponsoring 20 Groups.
“There’s got to be some type of format that allows people who are of like mind to exchange ideas. Then you can expand your horizons, and I think 20 Groups are awesome.”
“If you’re an industry professional,” he adds, “the best thing you can do is get outside your four walls and see what the rest of the industry is doing. The mantra of the 20 Group is everyone shares openly and honestly, because there’s no competitiveness involved. So, you get exposed to ideas you never would anywhere else.”