Shop Life

Snap Shop: A-1 Toyota Collision Center

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A-1 Toyota Collision Center shop manager: Ralph Doyon Dealership: A-1 Toyota Location: New Haven, Conn. Staff: 6 Square footage: 5,400 Annual revenue: $1 million Monthly car count: 55

Delivering award-winning service

For the second time, A-1 Toyota Collision Center was named a Shop of the Year by Toyota Certified Collision Centers (the shop previously won in 2016.) 

The shop’s award is on-display in the dealership’s main showroom, along with other awards that the dealership has won and a customized painting by Chip Foose, congratulating the body shop for its 2016 win. 

“The eagle is front and center in the showroom,” Ralph Doyon, body shop manager, says.

The dealership made a big deal to recognize the honor and celebrated the body shop’s win with a recognition award ceremony and dinner with the entire staff and their spouses at a nice restaurant. 

Running efficiently  

“We run lean and mean,” Doyon says of the small operation. With only four people working the shop floor, cutting down on wasted time is essential to productivity—which is one of the reasons the collision shop won the award. 

Being proactive on supplements has really helped the shop perform well. When a vehicle comes in with an estimate from the insurer, the staff performs a teardown right away to find out if there’s any additional work. If there is, the shop hops on the phone immediately to get an adjuster there to approve the additional work.  

Working toward a common goal 

The four-man team on the shop floor (three techs and a painter) work extremely well together, Doyon says. 

Doyon says the shop is proactive and works very well together to communicate what’s going on. Every morning, the team meets to discuss what’s going on for the day and is constantly revising it based on the needs of each vehicle in order to keep it moving. This is helpful, since the shop has one paint booth. 

“Being small is an advantage because we don’t have 8–9 techs feeding two painters,” Doyon says of eliminating bottlenecks in the paint department. 

The paint booth itself is well-kept and looks brand new, because the painter is consciousness that a clean area will make everyone’s job easier. 

“Our paint booth is nine years old but it’s in great condition,” Doyon says. 

Keeping it all under one roof

Since the collision repair center is attached to the dealership, everything that a customer needs for the lifecycle of its vehicle is in one building—from sales to service to parts to collision.

“Having it under the same roof is a big plus,” Doyon says. 

 This also allows customers of the body shop to enjoy the state-of-the-art showroom and the amenities that come along with it. 

The showroom has cars on display, tables for customers to sit at and speak with someone from the dealership or enjoy food from the onsite cafe. There’s also a separate WiFi room and children’s area that are closed off and separated, so those that want to work in peace will be uninterrupted and kids can enjoy themselves without parents worrying about disrupting other guests. 

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