Fix Auto Express Gresham
For Shon Kim, the stakes were high in 2015.
Today, he’s raking in solid rewards.
When FenderBender spoke with Kim a few years back (“Bumper-Focused Express Shop,” July 2015, fenderbender.com/bumperexpress) the Portland-area shop owner had recently opened a 3,600-square-foot shop dedicated to non-structural, light-duty repairs, with the goal of cutting cycle time.
It was a sizable investment of more than $100,000 but less than three years later, Kim is an advocate for the creation of express repair facilities. The reasons are seemingly as endless as the stream of business rolling into his Gresham, Ore., shop each day. For starters, little square footage is required. And insurance agents tend to be fans of express repair facilities, as repair costs are typically right around the cost of a customer’s deductible, meaning the work is frequently out of pocket, keeping premiums in check.
Since the switch, the express shop has a cycle time of 24–36 hours, and has steadily increased its annual revenue, reaching slightly more than $500,000 in 2016.
“It’s just all around better for the customer, better for the insurance company,” Kim says.
Kim provides the chief elements for shop owners to consider when going the express repair route.
ALERT ESTIMATORS IN ADVANCE.
Perhaps the biggest key when adopting an express repair setup is simply getting employees to adapt. At Fix Auto Express Gresham, Kim planned for manufacturers to provide training, including welding.
Furthermore, “it’s going to take a big change with your estimating staff,” says Kim, who now owns two Portland-area shops that combine for nearly $5 million in annual revenue. “Because, for the most part, your average estimator doesn’t understand repairing a bumper also.”
ALTER HIRING PHILOSOPHIES.
Due to the light-duty work that flows through the facility, they simply don’t require technicians with decades of experience.
“You’re not going to need a technician that has structural experience to work on bumpers,” explains Kim, whose Gresham shop handles around 12 bumpers per day. “So, with that in mind, you don’t need to have the high-dollar technician. You can have more of a high-level, mid-tech.”
EMBRACE CREATIVE EFFICIENCY.
Opening one express repair facility can aid an owner’s other shops. Such is the case in the Portland area, where Kim’s non-structural, light-duty repair shop is located just 1.5 miles from his larger, original facility—a setup that lends itself nicely to load leveling.
Another example of express repair shops’ potential benefits is the work Kim’s business does at the local airport for a large rental company. Rather than shuttle vehicles back and forth, nearly 25 miles roundtrip, Kim sends a van to the airport, has an employee disassemble parts there, bring the bumpers back to the express shop, and eventually re-assemble them back at the rental location.
“Being able to shuttle one technician down [to the airport], who has become very efficient at removing bumpers, it works out great,” Kim says.