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Shops use the award plaque, website notices, e-mail blasts, banners, advertisements and other material (this year winners were even provided with a QR bar code to use in advertisements) to promote the honor, and nearly all of them have found that doing so increases their credibility with customers and insurers.
"We use it in all of our media, every advertisement, everything we do," says Jimmy Lefler, owner of Lefler Collision & Glass in Evansville, Ill., which was ranked as the Top Shop in 2010, and made the top 10 in 2011. "The first thing I did when we went out to receive the award, was I scheduled phone-in interviews with some local radio stations and the local news channel. I talked to them live from Vegas, and that's how we kicked things off."
Lefler also put a banner on each of his locations, and even put the messaging on the giant airplane banner that the shop deploys at the local air show, the local PGA golf tournament and other events. That number-one or top-10 designation also is on every piece of signage that the shop uses at the events the company sponsors around town.
Nigro's Auto Body in Philadelphia also promotes its 2011 Top Shop status on its website, in the lobby, the shop's Facebook page, and Twitter feed. "The body shop business is pretty difficult to be in, so any acknowledgement is wonderful to have," says owner Domenic Nigro. "It sets you apart."
"We've used it as a sales tool," says Rocky Fasone, owner of Hollywood, Calif.-based Network Autobody, which made the top 10 in 2010 and 2011. "It's something to brag about. You're one of the 10 best in the country." In addition to promoting the win on the shop's website, they have signage in their front offices.
Top Shop winners also have gone out of their way to promote the awards within their markets. "The entire community took note of the fact that one of their own was recognized as number-one in the nation, so that gave us a lot of prestige," Lefler adds.
2011 Top Shop winner O'Rielly Collision Center, Tucson, Ariz., posted a banner outside of the shop, placed the award plaque prominently in the office, and made copies of the article available to customers. They also sent out an e-mail blast when they won the award.
"It adds some validation for customers, so they know they are making the correct choice for a collision center," says Brian Guerrero, shop manager at O'Rielly. "Even for insurance company DRPs, it adds some credibility to your location." In fact, the shop even included the Top Shop promotion piece in some of its DRP applications.
The designation also can help sell customers on the shop. In the case of Lefler, the shop sits in an area that sees a lot of out-of-state traffic from drivers traveling to Nashville, St. Louis, and Indianapolis. "We had an engineer form St. Louis who crashed his brand new Denali, and he was just going to have it patched up to get it home," Lefler says. "One of our managers met with him and showed him our accreditations. He had us repair that vehicle. When people see that we were number one or one of the top 10 in the nation, it just knocks them out. We're recognized for our achievements."
At Network Autobody, Fasone says that his team will point out the Top Shop honor when they are trying to sell a customer on a job. "We use all of the tools available to us," Fasone says. "We point to the poster on the wall and say, 'We're rated one of the top 10 shops in the United States.' It's good advertising."
Lefler's team continues to focus on the Top Shop program. "We don't want to let it go," he says. "We're constantly looking for ways to set ourselves apart. Every year since the first time we were in the top 10, it's really driven a lot of creativity here in terms of what we're trying to do to differentiate ourselves."
The 2012 Top Shop contest is open to submissions through Aug. 31, 2012. Interested shops can download the entry form at www.abrn.com/topshops.