Advertising a Shop’s Change of Locations
Main Auto Body recently underwent a complete overhaul of its new location to create not just a body shop, but a top facility that ownership could be proud of.
The body shop has grown from one location in 1977 to nine locations today in Oregon. Bryan Bass, manager of the Albany location, knew he had to do something because his shop building was having too many drawbacks and workflow issues like only on-street parking and small office space.
As luck would have it, Bass was driving home after work one day and noticed a “For Sale” sign posted in front of what used to be a dealership. The owner decided to purchase the building in 2018 and it underwent an extensive remodel. The team moved into the new building approximately five months earlier.
Since moving, the shop has expanded its estimating team to include three more estimators, and compared to last year, the business is producing about 20 percent more in sales since May.
Bass discovered during the process that simply expanding the team’s space couldn’t make the shop more profitable or efficient. In fact, Bass learned that, in order to switch over to running a new MSO location, he needed to focus on a hands-off leadership approach.
“The biggest moment in my career as a leader was the moment I realized I can’t do everything by myself,” Bass says. “I need to empower my employees to do their job or else they’d never learn and grow.”
As told to Melissa Steinken
Before You Start, Here’s A Remodel Example
Our company invested roughly $1 million to redo the old dealership building and turn it into the new Albany location for Main Auto Body.
The entire electrical system was pulled out and upgraded. All air lines were removed and new lines installed with drops in the right places. Every light in the building was replaced with LED lighting so the shop would be well-lit and ownership would save on energy usage.
We also brought in two new GFS paint booths, two new Chief frame racks, a new ProSpot I5 and SP5 welders, all new Innovative parts racks and materials carts for technicians. Approximately 6,000 square feet of space was added on to the facility to accommodate the paint booths. It was great because the city allowed us to add a certain amount of square footage to the building and we pushed it right to the limit.
I also recommend that if a shop manager is looking for recommendations on the type of tools and equipment for the space, to go to your local paint supplier and jobber. That’s how I got recommended most of my brands.
As one of the final steps to keeping everything running smoothly, we use our CCC management system to schedule jobs and to communicate internally in the bigger space.
Steps to Finessing Shop Processes
After moving locations, I made sure to get rid of one process I had in the old place. I decided to remove any racks of hard files that were visible to the customer and move everything digital.
For instance, the team schedules cars through the CCC production screen instead of a production board like a white board.
At the old location, there were racks on racks with files for all jobs coming and copies of papers that detailed which technician was working on which job. Now, there are no hard racks of files that the team is using day-to-day. I have my team write everything in CCC. I still have my team print out papers and write down some notes that I keep in a hard file and cabinet file but my goal was to go clutter free when we moved.
I also hired on a full-time mechanic. The mechanic works on any sublet work for diagnostics scans and recalibrations. He also performs suspension repair work. Now, instead of that sublet money going to an outside business, we’re able to keep the profits in-house.
Our shop’s average monthly car count was around 108 cars for the first quarter and 112 cars for the second quarter of 2019. In 2014, the shop brought in about $2.5 million and in May 2018, was producing about $3 million. Now, sales have increased 20 percent on top of that.
Steps to Advertising the New Location
To kick off the move to the new location, I decided to host a grand opening party at the shop. This was an opportunity for people in the community to come in and see how clean and new the building was. We had about 200 people at the event. The local fire department came and demonstrated extraction skills to the public.
I also advertised the new facility not only on television and internet ads but also by promoting new job openings at Main Auto Body.
I used sites like Indeed and Zip Recruiter to run job advertisements in different markets. It was really beneficial to have my business associates in the community spread the word via word of mouth.