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Transitioning to Non-DRP

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Vanessa Govenor’s father taught her everything about running a successful business, including the most important rule: Always put the customer first, and strive to be the shop everybody wants to come to.

And to achieve that, Govenor—who spent her high school summers working in her father’s shop, Sudden Impact Auto Body & Collision Repair Specialists in Las Vegas, and now serves as its director of operations— decided the business needed to go non-DRP.

“She is a woman of honesty and integrity,” says her father, Jose Gutierrez, in his FenderBender Award nomination for Govenor. “She has brought this shop to be the No. 1 Nissan shop, and one of the busiest shops in Vegas without DRPs.”

The decision to become a non-DRP shop isn’t easy, especially when DRPs account for 80 percent of your business—as was the case with Sudden Impact. But she says the transition has led to increased business, new advertising opportunities, and a less stressful shop culture.

High stress levels were the biggest detriment to shop culture. Govenor says staff was constantly on edge because insurance representatives would come in with a report card and rate technicians based on speediness. While speedy repairs are a priority, Govenor says the unreasonable expectations led to lower quality repairs and decreased profits. “Without those contracts, we don’t have that stress over our heads,” she says. “We have all the necessary documentation to provide to these insurance companies with every material and procedure we need. It’s pretty easy.”

Ownership was also slowly losing control over the business. Govenor says it felt like the insurance companies were running her shop, not allowing her and Gutierrez to run a company that adhered to their core values.

“We just got tired of the stress of that being held over our head, of being threatened,” she says. “If we didn’t do it this way, we were going to lose our business. When, in turn, when we got rid of our DRPs, we’ve gained control of our business.”

Govenor says taking the step to cut ties can be difficult. Sudden Impact Auto was a DRP shop for several insurance companies for over 20 years—until things reached a breaking point.

“A lot of other shops ask, ‘How do you do it?’” she says. “They’re so scared of losing their business if they get off the contract. But if you have a game plan for recovering, you can improve the business.”

Part of that recovery involved revamping the repair process. Without DRPs dictating how quickly repairs needed to be done, Govenor instituted a more efficient and less stressed system by instilling a customer-first mindset that removed insurance from the procedures and allowed Govenor to charge insurance companies for everything along the way.

“We’re a shop of honesty and integrity, and now we’re able to repair vehicles how they should be fixed,” she says. “We repair every vehicle like we’re putting our own families and kids in there.”

Soon after, she began to advertise that Sudden Impact was a non-DRP shop. Govenor doesn’t know of any other non-DRP shops in Vegas—she realized this differentiated her shop and worked in her advantage. Govenor now couples every Sudden Impact advertisement with the same promise:

“We don’t work for our insurance companies—we work for our customers.” 

She then focused on empowering the customers. Customers don’t always understand what “non-DRP” means. Govenor has trained her staff to explain the insurance process to customers— both old and new—and why it would be more beneficial to go through Sudden Impact. She says walking customers through that information liberates them and gives them decision-making power.

“What we’ve really let our customers know is it’s really their choice where they can have the vehicle repaired,” she says. “They don’t have to go to the DRP shops. We just explain to them that we’re not under this contract where we have to give them discounts and cut corners.

“A lot of times they think, ‘Well, if you’re not a DRP, am I going to have to pay something?’ We just assure them: no. We still get everything covered under the insurance claim and they’re going to be even happier.”

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