Image Is Everything

July 1, 2012

There’s a shop in my neighborhood that I drive by every day on the way to and from work. It’s a small, family-run mechanical operation that’s been in business for several decades. I’ve thought on several occasions how convenient it would be to have my car serviced there, but after five years living in the area, I haven’t been a customer once. Why? It just doesn’t look like a place that would take good care of me or my vehicle.

The black walls look like they’ve never been cleaned, the parking lot is a mess of bumpy patches and cracks, employees frequently loiter in front of the bays, smoking, chatting—not working. The shop might do fantastic work, but I don’t want to take a chance with my vehicle to find out. The appearance makes me nervous—my perception is that if they don’t care about how they look, they won’t care about my car. I want to go to a place that makes me feel confident that things are going to be done right.

How a shop looks is just as critical in the collision repair industry, regardless of how much of your work is insurance versus customer pay, or how top-notch your work is. A first impression is everything; a bad image can keep potential customers from ever pulling into your lot, let alone walking through your door.

Performing quality work just isn’t enough to run a successful shop today. Every shop is going to say they perform quality work. You have to make your shop stand out in other ways. Your image is a good place to start, especially considering much of the work in collision repair is judged by how good it looks.

In our feature, “Looks that Sell,” we talk to four collision center operators who understand the importance of looking good both inside and out. They share the simple strategies they’ve used to make their shops more inviting.

In the Idea Shop story, we explore how to move beyond the exterior and front office when enhancing your image. A clean, organized shop floor will also help improve customers’ confidence in your facility. Invite them to take a tour, show that you’re proud of your shop and the work your employees do. Letting customers see first-hand how their vehicle will be cared for can significantly improve their experience.

We’ll continue to show examples of shops that really understand the need for a positive image in our Snap Shop section. In this month’s Snap Shop, we feature the retro lobby at Bates Collision Center in Baytown, Texas. We hope you can use this section to get ideas for your own business. If you have a shop space that you’d like to show off, fill out our submission form at and we might feature it in an upcoming issue.

Jake Weyer
[email protected]