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It’s All In The Recovery

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It’s human nature to run from mistakes. When an error is made, we often want to distance ourselves from that feeling of dread, embarrassment and regret. So we put the mistake in the past and try to quickly move on, saying to ourselves that we’ll never get into that situation again. Sometimes a fear of redeveloping that dreadful feeling will keep us restrained, prevent us from taking chances on things that could actually make improvements in our lives, or our businesses.

There’s another way to deal with the missteps we all inevitably make, one that turns a regret into a tool for success: We could embrace our mistakes, take the time to evaluate why they happened, and use them to find a better way forward.

I recently spoke with three shop operators who share this mind-set and weren’t shy about discussing some of their biggest business blunders and how those mistakes ultimately made their businesses stronger.

“It’s about constantly improving,” says Barry Burkholder, owner of Barry’s Paint Shop in Ephrata, Pa. “We’re never really there; there’s always room for improvement. You have to be on the lookout for it or it won’t happen.”

Read about Burkholder’s biggest mistake and how he rebounded in “Hard Lessons: Three Failures That Made Shops Better.”

Elsewhere in this issue, you’ll notice an emphasis on education and training, which is arguably one of the most important topics we cover these days, as vehicle construction, repair procedures and technology continue to advance at a rapid pace.

In “Shop Class,” we feature Precision Body Works in Richmond, Va., which took an outside-the-box approach to growth. Shop owner Chuck Anderson hired his daughters, both of whom have education backgrounds, to help manage the shop. Their emphasis on planning, organization, and constant improvement helped build the business into a two-shop $6 million-a-year operation.

“We’ve had more changes in the last year than in the last 12,” Anderson says.

In Idea Shop, we talk with Jamie Boettcher, instructional designer and trainer for I-CAR, about the rise of aluminum construction and what repairers need to know about it. Roughly 500 pounds of aluminum components are expected to be included in each vehicle by 2025, up from 327 pounds in 2009. It’s critical for shops to know how to repair those structures.

One place to learn more about those procedures, and find the tools and equipment to do it, is at the International Autobody Congress and Exposition (NACE) set for Oct. 10–13 in New Orleans. We tapped some industry pros for advice on making the most of trade events such as NACE in “Learning for Profit.”

FenderBender will be at NACE again this year, producing comprehensive coverage through video interviews, news stories and photo galleries, all of which can be found on FenderBenderLive.com. FenderBender Live is in its second year and we definitely found ways to improve it for 2012. As with any business venture, it’s a continuous learning process. Here’s hoping you view your operation the
same way.

Jake Weyer
jweyer@fenderbender.com

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