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A Balancing Act

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Joe Rizzo and his business partner, Arthur Harris, heard the rumors going around in June 2019. 

They heard that a recession loomed for the U.S. economy and that, in just one year, it would be here. The recession would hit and the value of the dollar would drop. 

The partners didn’t panic, however, and instead began to mobilize other business opportunities to diversify their business model at Finish Pros Collision Repair in Dallas, Ga. To do so, they focused on one question: “How do we make a business model that can survive even if no one is spending money?”

To supplement some of their collision work, the team started offering more stand-alone paint work for customers and incorporated more fleet accounts into the business. All of this is well and good, but without a solid plan in place, it can be too much to manage. Luckily, Rizzo has tips for being able to tackle additional ventures while still maintaining control of your business. 

As told to Melissa Steinken 

Find an offering that works for your shop. 

We service fleet accounts. For some of these accounts, it’s taken us up to 14 years to obtain them. We wanted to be able to have work coming in if there was a time where other areas of the business were down in work. That’s helped a lot right now during the coronavirus outbreak. We’ve seen a lot of customers coming into the shop who haven’t been driving their cars because less people are driving. 

We often get customers walking in that are pleasantly surprised we do the work we do. Some customers come in after initially using us for just paint work and then they are surprised to find we offer more services like collision repair. Or, customers are pleasantly surprised that we can simply paint their car. They’ll tell us they only see shops performing collision repair work and not offering paint work on a car or motorcycle. There is a need for more paint services in our area so we try to accommodate that as best as possible. 

Kick the day off on the same page. 

There can be a lot going on, that’s why it’s so important to communicate. Every morning we have a production meeting with the team at 9 a.m. This kicks off the day and gets everyone rolling on the same page. I used to start the meetings but now that we added the second location in 2018, we have managers that run those meetings.

Remember to take a breather. 

With extra offerings, there’s a lot of work to be done. Even if I don’t take a break to eat my lunch, I make sure my team takes a break to do so and really push for that. If the whole team is staying late during the day, sometimes Arthur will come to the body shop and make dinner for the team. He’ll take out the grill and cook burgers or hotdogs.

Spread the word. 

When it comes to marketing out service, we like to get in front of the community. We like to go out to the local baseball games and sponsor teams. We’re doing it to help others but we also do use those images for our social media. This way when a customer comes to our pages, they don’t just see ads for services or cars, they see that we’re people that live in the same community. We’re local people. 

Diversify your targets as well as your offerings. 

We’re trying to reach a different market than other repair shops for our marketing. We want to reach women and teachers, and anyone in the community that might be hesitant to come into an auto body shop to get repairs done. And, in our research we’ve found that while men typically make the decisions on the automotive side of the household, women are the ones that control the majority of the household spending. Also, 63 percent of our Facebook advertisements are viewed by women. 

Our goal is to make our shop an environment that they feel welcome in. We want to educate them on the proper repair. Every year, we budget between $25,000 and $30,000 or our marketing efforts. To determine the right amount to spend over 12 months, we first tried our hand at a six month marketing budget and increased it to a year. 

 

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