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1st Class Collision

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Photo by Jann Gentry

SHOP: 1st Class Collision  LOCATION: Murrieta, Calif.  OWNER: Bruce Newell

SIZE: 21,600 square feet STAFF: 30 ANNUAL REVENUE: $4.5 million

1) Bruce Newell says he’s always been big on continuing education. His shop is I-CAR Gold, BMW and Mercedes certified, and he’s part of a BASF 20 Group. That’s where, Newell says, he realized the importance of a good first impression.

“My theory has always been, when customers leave my business, what will distinguish us from our competition?” Newell says. “How will they remember me?”

Aside from stellar customer service and repair work, Newell says he wanted something visual that would stick out in customer’s minds. He recruited a friend to paint a 3-D mural depicting a tropical oceanside scene. Newell says the intricate mural has had the exact effect he had hoped for.

“I have people who will come back later just to take pictures of the office because they’re so amazed,” he says. “They tell their friends, ‘Even if you didn’t wreck your car, stop by 1st Class Collision and check out the artwork.’”.

2) Newell then decided to carry the tropical theme throughout the rest of the waiting room. He hired a company to install a thatched roof over the reception area. Besides making the reception desk look like a palapa, Newell says it also creates a focal point in the room, ensuring customers know where to go upon entering the building. Newell also chose wicker furniture to carry on the theme.

3) Plaques, certifications, awards and thank-you letters from customers are framed and hung around the reception desk. Newell says the plaques are great selling tools, and also show the shop’s commitment to continuous training.

4) Behind a short, round wall is a dedicated area for insurance adjusters. Newell says he wanted adjusters to have a private desk they can use while at the shop inspecting vehicles. The area is equipped with a desk, laptop connection, Wi-Fi, and printer.

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