Keys for Creating Cash Flow
John Terrizzi Jr. got his start in the automotive industry at the age of 10, cleaning tools for technicians at his family’s shop. Things were far simpler then.
More than four decades later, Terrizzi Jr. is the owner of a pair of Philadelphia-area Maaco facilities. And, like most owners, he has taken his share of lumps while operating his collision repair businesses. When Terrizzi Jr. first opened Maaco of Bridgeport earlier this decade, for example, he got started with around $25,000 in working capital.
In retrospect, he needed to borrow $60,000 more, as the shop owner noted in a 2017 FenderBender article (fenderbender.com/creatingcashflow).
“The business itself has changed in my lifetime—many times over,” Terrizzi Jr. said recently. “If you want to be in this business, you have to be fully invested. It’s a much more intense business now. It’s not just about slapping fenders on a car, or pulling a frame; there’s so many more components now.”
That means money needs to be set aside for training, and equipping a body shop to meet the demands of today’s advanced vehicles.
Fortunately for Terrizzi Jr., his early days spent operating Maaco of Bridgeport have taught him how to create an influx of cash flow without a ton of effort. Here are his biggest suggestions for doing so:
Market via social media.
At this point in his career, Terrizzi Jr. has learned all the time-tested methods for marketing a body shop. Namely, pound the pavement—get facetime by having a table and banner at local charity events, and by sponsoring little league athletics.
But, nowadays, there are even easier ways to market a body shop in a manner that nets a return: via social media.
Since employees at his facilities, Maaco of Bridgeport and his second facility, Maaco of Manayunk, tend to be fairly young and tech-savvy, Terrizzi Jr. has encouraged them to spread the word about the shops on platforms like Facebook.
The Philadelphia-area Maaco employees frequently post pictures of repair work they’ve done, and the community has clearly taken notice, considering Terrizzi Jr.’s two facilities project to combine for $2.25 million in revenue this year—no small feat considering Maaco of Bridgeport brought in around $750,000 in its first year in operation, in 2013.
“We always ask how people find us, and we get a sizable amount from social media” says Terrizzi Jr., whose business garners 4.5-star reviews on Google. “It’s important to get as much exposure as you can and keep the word in front of people.”
Secure multiple fleet accounts.
In his early days leading a Maaco shop, Terrizzi Jr. had just one fleet account with which to work. Thus, he felt the need to expend a ton of energy on keeping that client happy.
In the years since, he has begun partnering with several fleet clients, like landscaping companies and sizable rental car businesses.
“They’re all fairly regular accounts,” Terrizzi Jr. explains, “where we can get a constant flow of business.
“When we were depending on one fleet account, when they would slow up then we would
slow up, and we couldn’t keep a mix of customers.”
Save from every job possible.
Though it isn’t always comfortable to do so, both Maaco of Bridgeport and Maaco of Manayunk save $20–$30 from each repair to build a budget for future expenditures like training. Specifically, the staff transfers .05-1 percent of every job, less parts cost, to a dedicated bank account.
“That can [add up] quite substantially,” Terrizzi Jr. notes. “It can get up to $6,000, which we use for I-CAR training.”
Terrizzi Jr. has learned that what seems like a drop in the bucket today can have a significant ripple effect down the line. While a shop owner can’t save significant sums of money overnight, they’re likely to over the long run provided they use time-tested methods.
While he wishes he would’ve borrowed six figures when starting Maaco of Bridgeport six years ago, Terrizzi Jr. learned his lesson before long.
“Had I known the model a little bit better, I would’ve borrowed about $100,000 more,” he says, “and it would’ve been an easier ride. But we figured it out. And we’re in a better position now.”