Hosting Community Workshops
When her mother became ill, Christy Jones put her teaching career on hold to provide some relief to the family shop.
In a way, though, Jones found a way to keep her teaching career going.
As “collision repair concierge” for R Jones Collision 1 in Des Moines, Iowa, for 13 years, Jones served as customers’ point of contact. From writing estimates to walking people through the claims process to answering questions, Jones’ made it her duty to educate customers.
And since taking ownership in March 2015, Jones has continued that education on a new level by organizing fundraisers and hosting educational events that combine collision, mechanical and insurance reps for an evening of car ownership tips.
“I wouldn’t say that the return on investment is immediate, but for me, it is about the recognition—showing we care more about the customer than earning a paycheck,” she says. “Customers that come in here feeling that they’re being taken care of and not being taken advantage of will come back and refer others.”
Jones’ most successful class has been Ladies Night Out, which hosts women (and men, if they choose) once a month. She details how any shop can successfully market and host an in-house educational event.
I have a teaching degree from the University of Northern Iowa. I didn’t particularly like teaching sixth-graders, but bringing women into my facility and teaching them about collision is much more fun.
The idea is to make not just women, but anyone feel more comfortable about coming into body shops, dealerships and mechanical shops and buying car insurance. Those are all very complicated and scary things we have to do as adults, and most people aren’t prepared for it.
I partnered with a mechanical shop and an insurance agent in town. It’s a trifecta of everything you need to know about owning and maintaining a car.
I talk about the collision claims process, what to do in case of an accident, why it is imperative that you call the cops and gather as much information from all the parties as possible. People will jot down a license plate and phone number and then realize they wrote something down wrong, and now they can’t get a hold of the person that’s supposed to be paying for their repairs. Or sometimes they assume there’s no damage and then find it later.
The insurance agent talks about what your insurance policy actually means. What does liability mean? What is underinsured? He walks everybody though that process and why you get certain add-ons to your policy.
And then the mechanic talks about what to expect with mechanical repairs at a facility—what you should expect out of your mechanic and what you need to know about maintaining your vehicle.
I’m a very visual person. For me it’s common sense. You say it, show it and then give them the information visually.
I actually bring in a car and we talk about painting and how difficult it is to color match. I’ve got sprayout cards, the camera we use for color matching—everything.
I also have lots of handouts. Everybody usually leaves with three or four pieces of paper. I give them a pad of paper, too, to write down what they’re hearing.
The event hosts 15 to 20 people and usually costs around $500. We feed them and provide some wine. We give them a goodie bag that has little things like a tire gauge and flashlight key chain. They take away a pen and notepad. We’ve also got giveaways.
We market it as a fun, free class that women and men can attend. It’s all grassroots. A lot of it has been word of mouth. I’ll send out emails to my existing customer list. We’ve been doing this for a couple years, so we’ve built up a large list of class attendants.
I’m going to do any type of free advertising. I belong to a number of networking groups. We have a Facebook page. We use event sites. We hand out flyers to every customer that comes in the door. We’re putting them on our estimates. Just any way of reaching people.
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