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Streamlining Office Operations

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When Terri Neely started as an office manager with Nagy’s Collision Specialists in Doylestown, Ohio, she was a former school secretary with zero knowledge of the collision repair industry.

“I didn’t know anything other than the color of a car,” she jokes.

At the time, Nagy’s had one location, eight employees and annual sales of $1 million. Nine years later, Neely, 50, has proven to be an integral part of the company’s rise to 11 shops, roughly 100 employees and $10 million in yearly sales. She’s done it through attention to detail, a passion for perfection and simply striving to do what her first job description said: Treat this business as if it were your own. 

“Terri has been key in the growth of Nagy’s Collision and yet never has wanted to be any part of the spotlight,” wrote Nagy’s co-owner Ron Nagy in his FenderBender Award nomination of Neely. “My brother and I have received several industry awards [for] which we are grateful, but Terri is a huge part of why we have built the business we have.”

As the director of operations, office managers at all Nagy’s location now report to Neely. All accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll—every cent that goes in and out of the company—goes through her. To say she’s learned and developed some methods for improving efficiency and accountability along the way would be a gross understatement. She shares a bit of what makes the front office operations at Nagy’s hum:   

 

Know the capabilities of your management system and take advantage of them. 

“I used to manually enter every single parts invoice for all of the locations every month,” Neely says. “And we finally figured out we could import that. That was huge.” 

She says the simple solution was discovered through a talk with representatives from CCC ONE when Nagy’s was searching for timeclock systems. Using the management system to import parts invoices saves about five hours a week, Neely says.  

 

Utilize an electronic check scanner. Neely says this is a big time saver for MSOs, but can improve efficiency at single-location shops as well. Scanners range in price from a few hundred dollars to over $1,000 depending on the model, but Nagy’s was able to get them from their bank for free—it’s worth asking about, Neely says.  

“At the original location, every day I went to the bank,” she says. “Then when we had our second location, every day two of us went to the bank. That just didn’t make sense.”  

 

Always have a second person review finances. Neely used to do everything from writing the checks to reconciling accounts. 

“Now we have checks and balances where someone else reconciles and we review the P&L by location monthly to make sure things are where they belong and there are no issues,” she says. 

 

Job shadow and cross-train. Though more applicable at businesses with multiple shops, Neely says the Nagy’s office managers started shadowing each other this year. They all follow standard operating procedures, but each of them have their own unique methods for improvement that are worth sharing. 

“The basic job is the same, but sometimes somebody will find a great tip and no one else knows. It’s an exchange of ideas and suggestions,” she says. 

Neely has also set up training sessions and broader staff interactions (four are learning the estimating process) to help the office staff learn more about other roles in the shop. 

 

Get involved. Neely has been involved with the Women’s Industry Network (WIN) for eight years and served on the group’s board for three. She has also been involved in 20 Groups, local business and human resources associations, and other volunteer organizations. All of it has helped her grow in her role, she says. 

“Sitting in my office doing numbers all day, I really don’t know what’s going on in the industry and this keeps me connected,” Neely says. “People say I’m a leader. It’s hard for me to say that but I have really grown and I’m happy to help anybody.” 

 

FenderBender Awards Insights feature past FenderBender Award nominees. To nominate an inspiring collision repair professional, or for more information click here.

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