All About the Customer
From working in his father’s small, two-bay shop for 15 years to opening his own state-of-the-art car dealership, Dean Sprague says the late-night hours he has spent learning every aspect of the body repair business has led to a single revelation: It’s all about the customer.
“A big part of our growth has been through word-of-mouth referrals,” he says. “Our customers willingly refer business to the shop and we’ve been growing steadily because of it.”
That dedication to customer service throughout his career was the basis of his FenderBender Award nomination in 2015. By achieving a high level of trust with customers both inside and outside the shop, Sprague has grown his small body shop into the seven-bay Sprague’s Collision Center Inc., located in Utica, N.Y., that exists today.
Inside the Shop
Armed with an optimism and energy that is soothing for a shaken-up customer, says Christina Paul, office manager for Sprague’s Collision, Sprague warmly walks his customers through every step of the repair process.
“The customers are just really comfortable with my knowledge and knowing that their vehicle is in safe hands,” he says.
If customers need to wait at the shop, they do so in the beautiful, spacious customer waiting area equipped with free coffee, a toaster oven, a small refrigerator, snacks, a television, several tables and chairs, and toys for children. The room gives off a warm, inviting coffee shop atmosphere and offers free Wi-Fi, which Sprague says is essential for keeping the customer’s mind at ease.
As Sprague guides customers through the repair process, he likes to boast about—and will even give the customers a tour of—the shop’s Accudraft downdraft bake paint booth, Chief EZ Liner frame machine, Hunter HawkEye Alignment rack and beautiful paint mixing room.
Outside the Shop
After customers leave the shop, Sprague aims to keep the customer constantly updated by offering his shop’s most unique perk: 24/7 camera access that allows customers to view their vehicles during all stages of the repair process. Customers are given a password they can enter on the website and catch a live feed of their vehicles as they move through the shop.
“When we started that in 2014, I had never heard of anybody doing it,” he says. “At least certainly nobody in our area does a live feed.” The shop’s website lists all of the equipment used in the shop, as well as an FAQ answering many of the questions Sprague encounters when explaining the repair process to customers, such as:
- Will an estimate/appraisal cost me money?
- Am I obligated to repair my vehicle at Sprague’s Collision Center following an estimate?
- Will I receive a lifetime warranty from your shop even though you are not one of my insurance company’s direct repair facilities?
- What type of parts will be used to repair my vehicle?
- Will you be able to achieve a perfect color match on my vehicle?
Sprague is also attempting to increase the collision center’s online presence to attract a younger customer base while teaching about the services that his shop offers.
“He is increasing the collision center’s online presence to attract a younger customer base while teaching about the services that Sprague’s offers, along with photos, tips, tricks and other information about the auto body repair industry,” Paul writes in her nomination.
FenderBender Awards Insights feature past FenderBender Award nominees. To nominate an inspiring collision repair professional, or for more information, go to fenderbenderawards.com.