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What Dale Carnegie Can Do for Your Shop

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Collision repairers with the ability and equipment to straighten most vehicles to pre-crash condition are prevalent in the industry today, with the more crowded and competitive markets made up almost exclusively of better-than-average body shops — not much distinguishing one from the other, at least in the average customer’s eyes.

In many of these shops, as is the case in many areas of business, people sometimes work their way up through the ranks and become a manager, vice president, president or even owner. They have good, sound technical skills and run the independent shops that do the lion’s share of the work every year in the collision repair industry. Again, nothing really special that would help a discriminating consumer choose one shop over another.

Sometimes the difference between two similar businesses is subtler than either equipment or skills, and it can’t be seen in the glossy finish of even the most imperceptible repair work.

“In business today, what separates one shop from another isn’t the technical side. It’s the ability to deal with the clients when they get to your shop,” says Don Crace, a motivational speaker, educator and business owner with Dale Carnegie Training in Bellevue, Wash.

Crace has been working with or operating a Dale Carnegie franchise for 30 years. He got his start in St. Paul, Minn., before moving to Washington in 1982, where he and his staff speak to individuals and groups about developing their people skills in his territory of Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Crace also has taught Dale Carnegie modules as part of accredited instruction through the Automotive Management Institute.

SOUND SKILLS

Obviously, owners and managers who’ve earned a place at the top know what they’re doing when it comes to running a shop. But when it’s time to take business to the next level — making a pitch to finally seize that fleet account or present an expansion plan to bank officers to open a second location — do you have what it takes to make the grade?

Dale Carnegie Training doesn’t have to be for top staffers or officers only, either: It can help if your shop has good, solid players who perhaps don’t deal with people as well as they should. There’s also a component for sales personnel, including motivation and sales techniques. “How well you give a presentation will show up in the audience’s opinion of your business or your ability to fix their car,” Crace says.Whether participants take one or two courses — for example, “Demonstrate Leadership; Inspire Others,” “Set Breakthrough Goals; Recognize Achievements” or “Foundation for Success; Create a Vision” — or whether they take a complete series, Dale Carnegie Training can lay a foundation for fledgling business people, delivering skill sets they can use and build upon as they learn on the job.

Trina Bartels had an employee she knew would benefit from Dale Carnegie Training, so about 10 years ago, she and her husband Craig, owners of Craig’s Automotive Collision Center in Spokane, Wash., took the course with him.

It was an eye-opening and interesting series, she recalls, with an emphasis on name recognition tactics and how to be more comfortable with customers and other people in general. The Bartels’ employee was well suited for his new position at their shop, but was able to take away the confidence and assurance to succeed through the Carnegie experience.

They took the classes over a period of time, Bartels says, making it just a little bit easier to get away without leaving Craig’s Automotive Collision Center in a lurch, given the workload at hand.

Dale Carnegie can offer something to boost business in a way that can’t quite be seen with the naked eye.

“Most people think that the more technical skills I have, the better I’m going to be. But most people have these skills; they have the equipment they need to measure and diagnose or put the body back together,” says Crace.

“It’s the people side of the business. What they remember is the interchange of ideas with the people on the job.”

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