What started as a shop that only worked on rental cars in 1973, NT Auto Body in Alexandria, Va., has grown to a shop with 12 DRP accounts and multiple dealership partners, thanks to Mike Tikoyan. He grew up in the shop, which was owned by his father, and officially took over 12 years ago. Throughout his time at NT Auto Body, he’s advocated for growing the business by staying ahead of trends such as consolidation. As an independent shop, it’s become difficult to compete, but Tikoyan thinks one way to get an edge is through DRPs.
“DRP is basically the way to go, in my belief,” Tikoyan says. “With the change from adjusters to quick photos, it’s become clear that customers are going to do what insurance companies tell them and that includes going to the shop that they tell them. You have to follow the workflow.”
Taking his shop away from a zero-DRP system took work, but now, Tikoyan says he’s built up such a strong reputation that he has accounts approaching him. This growth is a major factor for his FenderBender Award nomination.
Tikoyan shares with FenderBender what he’s learned about attracting and managing DRP accounts.
In the five-mile radius around his shop, Tikoyan estimates that there are 20 collision repair shops. That’s a lot of competition. The key to attracting business, DRP accounts and walk-in customers alike, he says, is finding ways to make your business stand out.
Tikoyan has done this by emphasizing customer satisfaction, which he measures with follow-up calls and by tracking CSI through UpdatePromise. Does the shop make mistakes? Of course—every shop does. Tikoyan makes his shop stand out by taking responsibility and ensuring that the mistake is fixed and that the customer leaves satisfied. The positive experience that the customers have had resulted in positive online reviews, which caught the eyes of DRP accounts and encouraged them to approach NT Auto Body.
Another attractive factor for DRP accounts is the shop’s dedication to training. The shop is an I-CAR training site and both of Tikoyan’s sons, who work in the shop, are I-CAR instructors. As soon as something comes down the line, the shop is on top of it and working toward getting the correct equipment and training.
Provide What Other’s Can’t.
Tikoyan thinks that part of the reason his shop has had so much success with DRP accounts is because the larger MSOs are not managing the accounts the way that the insurers would prefer.
Tikoyan and his brother/co-owner of the shop are in charge of directly contacting the accounts. Tikoyan believes it’s effective to have upper management as a point of contact and that it shows the shop’s investment.
Tikoyan has also made sure that every person in his shop—from the front office to the shop floor—is capable of being a decision maker for the shop, if need be. He provides guidance to his staff so that they can help out with any role, from talking to insurance companies and adjusters to being able to make a decision about a customer on the spot. This keeps production in the shop flowing and helps deliver KPIs that keep insurers satisfied.
Know Your Guidelines.
Every DRP account has different guidelines, which can make it difficult when managing multiple accounts. Tikoyan’s trick for this is to memorize the guidelines of the DRP that are the most strict and then perform those on every single vehicle.
“It’s better to do more than less,” Tikoyan says.
Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew.
“When you’re taking in more work than you can [handle], that’s where mistakes happen,” Tikoyan says.
Throughout his time at the shop, Tikoyan has never had to drop a DRP account, but he also knows when to slow down. There have been times where he’s told accounts that he’s at capacity, or times when he’s decided not to add an account because of the volume of business that would require. Tikoyan believes it’s better to have a bunch of smaller DRP accounts than to have one account that controls 80 percent of business. That way, if anything happens with an account, he still has a strong customer base.