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Growth is always possible, even in a tough economy—sometimes especially in a tough economy. With all the new technological and process advancements in the collision repair industry, there are a slew of ways to grow your business. FenderBender asked some industry experts to share their best ideas for outpacing the competition:

• Diversify your offerings. Adding on specialties like paintless dent repair is a great way to bring in extra business, especially with customers wanting less expensive fixes, says Tom Hoerner, program manager for the BASF VisionPLUS program.

• Offer concierge services. Expand your geographical reach without building another complete shop by offering concierge services, says Hoerner. “It’s a very thin operation where people drop their vehicle [at a convenient location,] and you ship it to your shop to be repaired.” The car is then returned to the concierge location for customer pick-up.

• Focus on repeat customers. Shops have a great opportunity, especially with customer pay situations, to continue reaching out to customers even after repairs are complete, says Hoerner. “They can reach out to customers and say, ‘We’re the collision center of choice’” to keep themselves top-of-mind so customers will return for nonessential repairs.

• Go after nontraditional business, such as fleet service. For shops willing to look beyond DRPs and typical customer pay situations, fleet services can be lucrative and steady business, says Jim Berkey, director of business solutions for the PPG MVP program.

• Split your shifts. Once you’ve done the marketing necessary to get more customers in the door, splitting shifts helps potentially double your business without requiring expansion, says Hoerner. Shops can stay open 16 hours a day instead of eight, cycling through two shifts of workers. “Your overhead doesn’t change. Rent, taxes, those types of expenses stay the same,” Hoerner says. “It’s a really good way to enjoy extra income without much extra expense.”

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