Different Strokes

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I don’t think there is a perfect formula for running a collision repair business.

At our editorial planning meetings, we’ll often get into debates about whether to move forward with a particular story idea that contradicts something we have written in the past. A story explaining a method for structuring technician pay might be completely different from an article on the same subject published months earlier, for instance. Or maybe one featured shop owner’s idea of how to structure  production for maximum efficiency is the polar opposite of another featured shop owner’s setup.  

To me, that’s how it should be. If a shop can prove that a particular strategy works and they can explain how other shops might be able to apply it to achieve the same success, then the story has value. Not every story will speak to every shop, but hopefully we offer enough variety to be able to help shops of all sizes and incomes improve their operations.

I’ve found that many shop operators are creative types—many who entered the trade as technicians because of an interest in manipulating metal, spraying paint and using their ingenuity to turn a wreck into a better-than-new vehicle. They’d aim to do each repair better and faster, always looking for ways to improve. That same mind set is driving them as shop owners today, and it spawns a broad range of ideas in all aspects of business. Today’s successful operators, regardless of their industry backgrounds, recognize that to be successful in this industry, you have to be looking for ways to improve, be open to change and be willing to try something new from time to time.

This month’s cover story, “Return On Investment,” looks at just one small example of this: Shops that have invested in some of the latest tools and equipment. You’ve seen the products—the Matrix Wand, Goliath Carts, and Urethane Supply Company’s nitrogen welding system—before in FenderBender. But we decided to circle back to a few users now that the equipment has been on the market for a while, to see how it’s working and evaluate the return on investment.

Elsewhere in the issue, you’ll find articles on how to make your vehicle deliveries memorable, how to run an effective email newsletter campaign, and what takeaways two shop owners got out of business school. And in Shop Talk this month, we feature Billy Coleman, manager at Gullo Ford Collision Center in Conroe, Texas, who makes a point of hiring from outside the industry and training staff in-shop. An unusual tactic, to be sure, but you can’t argue with the positive culture Conroe has created. It works for him, and maybe it’ll work for other shops as well.

What works for you? We’re always on the lookout for different ways shop operators are guiding their businesses to growth. Shoot me an email and you might find yourself in a future issue.   

Jake Weyer, Editor

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