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Becoming a Second-Generation Family Shop

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As a second-generation repair facility, I feel like I am in a different world than my father, who says quality’s the only key. But I don’t think the times can be compared, do you?

In those days, quality was still a deciding factor for collision repair; today that is a given.

I truly believe that like any industry, we’re challenged by technology and the information it can provide. The “first generation” of craftsman was compensated differently than those today. Back then, an insurance carrier watched severity just as it does today, but may turn a “blind eye” to an extent because they were able to say, “They do quality repairs and our customers are happy.” Now technology lets insurance carriers measure multiple facets of the business to process information and respond quickly to correct abnormalities within the measurements. Companies nationwide are using this information daily to make good business decisions based on public response or trends.

This useful strategy is performed by Harrah’s Casino. They gather data about their customers based on income, geographical location, spending habits and previous wagers. When a repeat customer comes in to their hotels, they already know these facts and react accordingly. If they know that a customer’s threshold is about $1,000, they will alert their staff when someone has reached that threshold, approach them and mention, “It appears today is not your day. Why don’t you go enjoy a meal at our dining room?” Based on this individual’s data, they know that if they lose more than their “comfort zone,” they will not be back to enjoy their hotel because of the “bad experience” they had.

Where do these challenges leave the collision repair industry? We need to realize that there are certain expectations within our industry today that must be measured and reviewed. We must also realize that regardless of capacity levels, everything has a cost—a cost that needs to be factored into repairs. Perhaps we need to review various “rewards” to see whether or not they help us make money, or maybe we need to review the expectation upon completion. For example, maybe one company that minimizes your profitability does not wish to compensate for your customer vehicles to be cleaned—separate your business from the others.

Ray Fisher is the president of ASA-Michigan. This article represents his opinion and does not reflect the views of ASA-Michigan.

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