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James Thomas

James Thomas started Thomas Collision (Valdosta, GA.) 20 years ago and has continued to grow his business with each passing year. Today, he has 29 employees, 55 bays, and over 50,000 square feet. It’s a fast-paced, high-volume shop doing a little over $6 million revenue per year. 

“It’s a lot to keep up with,” Thomas admits, “and the contemporary collision center is now the collision industry.” 

Simply put, a successful collision shop today is at the center of the greater industry at large. Cars come in; cars go out; techs build their skills and try to keep pace with evolving materials, parts and technology. There are certifications to maintain and new skills to learn as well as new processes, procedures and tools to incorporate into one’s repair repertoire. One of the primary tools Thomas uses to help stay ahead is CollisionLink Shop, from OEC.

 

The Collision Industry Repair Standard

Change in any industry is constant, and Thomas insists he’s welcome to it if it means his shop can be more successful and help more drivers get back on the road. 

“We’ll adapt as needed, and as long as we can make a margin, we’ll connect with other vendors and make the repair. OEC is communicating without communicating; you click what you need, ignore the rest, and then get what you need.”

In a sense, Thomas uses CollisionLink Shop as a means by which to judge the capacity and contributions of other shops and dealers around him. 

“Everyone around us wants a foot in the door for parts,” he says, “and as a consumer, we know off the bat whether they’re a volume dealer or not depending upon if they use CollisionLink Shop. If we have to call them and quote a retainer, quote a part number, that’s way too much time—we encourage our dealers to get on the program so we can more easily send them business. 

“Business is all about relationships,” he adds, “and you have to do what’s right.” 

 

Improve Efficiency and Cycle Time 

Shane Criswell is the primary parts professional and estimator at Thomas Collision. “If we have about 35 drivable cars coming in on Monday, it only takes about two hours through CollisionLink Shop to get the parts we need,” he says. “Previously, working with recyclers or other vendors, you’re talking a day or two, and you have to wait for them to call you back.”

One of the primary benefits of CollisionLink Shop that Criswell enjoys is not having to shop around price-matching for every conceivable part and repair.

“That’s a huge benefit,” he says, “because we can get what we need and the OEM can reimburse the dealers immediately.”

He also enjoys the time-saving benefits the online collision parts ordering tool provides. 

“Time is money,” he says, “and placing orders takes time. If there’s a faster, better way to do it, I’m in. CollisionLink Shop also creates a digital trail, so you’re accountable. A phone call doesn’t provide a trail, and three days later you may not recall what you even asked for, or what the circumstances were. It helps hold us all accountable by creating a record.”

Thomas jumps back in, noting how critical it is to minimize cycle time. 

“Cycle time is part of our report,” he says. 

“If we’re able to improve cycle time, everyone wins. When a car runs over its time period—say 30 days is up on the rental—we always get a call from a car rental company. They have to follow up too, and we can use the CollisionLink Shop document to prove we ordered the parts in a timely fashion. Once we get the parts, cycle time starts clicking, and CollisionLink Shop helps bail us out.” 

OECIt’s good to be on the right side of revenue and efficiency. When he is, Thomas can focus on his other passion—classic muscle cars. Dude’s Modern-Built Classics is the hobbyist division of his company, and they usually restore one hot rod or muscle car per year. 

“We process claims to make a living, serve our community, and do that once a year,” Thomas laughs, “and it helps keep us young.” 

CollisionLink Shop makes no claims as to guaranteeing its clients’ youthful vigor. What it can do is help get cars through the shop and back on the road so you can pursue your passion—whatever it may be. 

To learn more, visit CollisionLinkShop.com.

 

This article appeared as part of an 8-page special section sponsored by OEC in the May 2020 edition of FenderBender.

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