How I Work: Mary Hanrahan

April 16, 2020
An Iowa body shop owner focuses on staying involved in the community both locally and through social media.

At Bondurant Auto Body, it’s not always about work. Sometimes, it’s about a pie in the face.

For National Pie Day on January 23, the body shop had its customers vote on which technician received a pie in his or her face, notes Mary Hanrahan, co-owner of the body shop.

While it may seem unusual for a body shop to celebrate a holiday like National Pie Day, Hanrahan builds her whole workplace culture around bringing humor and engagement into everyday events.

Hanrahan, alongside her husband, Todd, opened Bondurant Auto Body approximately 10 years ago. While her husband started working as a body technician in the industry 33 years ago, Mary Hanrahan came into the collision repair industry from her background as a director of operations for a Fortune 500 company.

“It just made sense for me to establish the business side of the organization while he was focused on the daily work,” she says.

Hanrahan spent the first couple years in the business learning about the collision repair industry as a whole and taking as many I-CAR classes as possible. She attended every training session and seminar possible to ramp up her knowledge.

Since opening the shop 10 years ago, the couple has tripled its sales. 

Hanrahan now spends the majority of her time involved in the front office and the front-end of the business. Her day is focused on the customer experience.

As told to Melissa Steinken

Most days I am in the office by 8 a.m.  and every day looks a little different. We have production meetings every morning. It’s like a typical production meeting in which we discuss the status of each vehicle, what needs to happen that day and what needs assistance to move every car forward.

However, we also use the time to read our most current customer reviews and celebrate the wins. 

I focus a lot of my day on making sure the customer is well taken care of. I spend time on educating the customer from the initial estimate to updating the customer on the progress of the repair. 

We created a “Know Your Rights” brochure that’s given to the customer during the estimating process. Another estimator or I will walk through the brochure with the customer and explain items like filing a claim, requesting a shop for repairs and what a deductible is. When the customer schedules a repair, we provide them a visual document of the repair process. 

It’s important for the customer to know that we are on their side and we will take care of everything while the vehicle is in the shop. 

I work alongside my manager of customer experience. When I’m educating the customer during the estimate, my customer experience manager will help me in the process. She lets the customer know that she’ll be the main point of contact during the repair and will be updating them along the way. If there are issues in the repair, she’ll be the one to inform the customer about hold-ups or insurance issues.

The customer is always contacted when their car moves into the paint department and reassembly. My manager gives the customer an estimated day when the car will be finished and then will call when it’s ready for pick up. 

Coffee is definitely my friend. I work with a lot of people so I most definitely drink a lot of coffee to stay upbeat. I usually have two to three cups of coffee per day. 

I also use a calendar as well as multiple spreadsheets to help organize the tasks I’m working on for the day.

I  spend a section of my morning researching OEM position statements and procedures.  I probably spend an hour each day performing this research. When I take the time to research this, it helps the technician repair the vehicle correctly and have the information ready for when they need it during the repair process.

Sometimes, I talk to insurance adjusters and educate them, as well. I typically find the OEM information on the OEM1Stop website and the I-CAR website. When the vehicle is in the shop, we use Mitchell Tech Advisor for specifics on the make and model.

I try to incorporate marketing ideas that allow our customers to be involved. These can be events that don’t have to do anything with the industry but grab people’s attention. For National Pie Day, I videoed the technician when he was getting a pie in the face and posted it to Facebook. I also brought in several pies to share that day.

Last summer, we did a selfie contest with our customers. We had them come and find a metal sculpture of Sasquatch (named “Crash”), take a picture with him and post it to Facebook. Each person that posted a picture received a limited edition T-shirt.

We definitely got a lot of responses from the community and had fun with that promotion.

Collaborating with our community is a great way to have fun while completing marketing tasks. For instance, we have friendly battles with the auto repair shop down the street. We’ve challenged them at bowling and recently at go-karting.

In April we hosted an event called St. Baldrick’s. The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is a volunteer-powered charity that funds more in childhood cancer research grants than any organization except the U.S. government. People raise money and shave their heads as a tribute to children with cancer. This is our fifth year being involved in the event and the first year actually hosting it.

Last year, we raised $5,000 and three people on our team had their heads shaved. 

I leave the shop around 5:30 p.m. I stick with this schedule for the most part. There are nights that I stay later while reviewing financials, working on process improvement initiatives and catching up on paperwork. 

Overall, we work hard and we play hard. We make fun of ourselves and laugh a lot but as a group we are the absolute most serious when it comes to completing our work.

Safety is a main priority of the business and I focus on delivering the customer excellent work without any compromises.

SHOP STATS: Bondurant Auto Body  Location: Bondurant, Iowa  Operator: Todd and Mary Hanrahan Average Monthly Car Count: 43  Staff Size: 8 (3 body techs, 1 refinish tech, 1 prepper and detailer, 1 estimator, 1 office manager)  Shop Size: 6,000 square feet Annual Revenue: $1.1 million