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Body Shop Service Tips Gleaned from the Hospitality World

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April 15, 2021—Collision repair is a unique industry but has plenty of overlap with others, hospitality included.

Helmuth Mayer, the owner of five Maaco locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in Texas, wasn't always an auto body entrepreneur. For seven years of his career he was surrounded by food, games, and beer, working as director of strategic initiatives and ops services for Dave & Busters, the arcade and sports bar, where he learned a thing or two that he brought to the world of collision repair.

When it came to customer experience at Dave & Busters, Mayer says the belief was folks came to the business happy, ready to have a good time.

"Just don't screw that up and you'll be great," he says with regard to ending up with satisfied patrons.

With his Maaco stores, Mayer says he operates under the assumption that customers show up in a different emotional state when in need of some paint or body work.

"They're a bit down on their luck, so it's my belief it's a great way to turn them around and get them back on their feet" through a good customer experience, he says. Here are three ways he makes sure he does that.

Empower Managers

With five shops that brought in $6.5 million last year, and nearly 50 employees overall, Mayer says while he'd love to be at each of his locations to keep tabs on the customer experience, that's not possible.

"When you're in an MSO environment you can't do that," he says, adding much responsibility falls on managers. 

Mayer says he believes managers should have autonomy, while he also expects consistency of experience across locations. In the end, he says he wants managers to act like each of their shops really is their own.

"I do try to drive my general managers to actually run the shops like they own them," he says.

Hire Well

"I look at single shop owners and think, if I had just one shop it would be so much easier," says Mayer.

Since that's not the case, he relies on his managers to help practice what he preaches, and hiring people with the ability to treat customers well. 

"You're only as strong as your team," says Mayer.

He says he seeks to hire people who have specific skills: they know how to handle tough situations, and they know how to bite their tongue if they have to.

The Results

Google reviews are more important than ever and Mayer says he pushes for customers to give his shops solid ratings. He notes that in the retail realm of paint and body work, statistics say that 88 percent of customers research services online.

"Because Google is so apparent in all the research, it's important in my mind to have strong ratings across the board," Mayer says.

The right service leads to strong ratings and strong word of mouth buzz for shops, he says, which all goes toward making customers for life.

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