"Everything is on the fly in this industry, right?” laughs Shawn Blauth, owner of Mineola Paint and Body in Mineola, Texas, a small town of about 4,500 located 80 miles due east of the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
Mineola Paint and Body isn’t as large as many other shops featured in FenderBender. What it lacks in size it makes up for in volume, however, as the 37-year-old shop maintains a robust clientele and car count, tallying about twenty vehicles per month and just over half a million dollars in annual estimated revenue. By any collision repair math, that’s a successful business.
“We’ve been with OEC for about two years,” Blauth says, noting that they chose the platform based on its parts ordering accuracy and the deep discounts available for virtually any vehicle and thousands of collision parts. Blauth says Mineola also offers car rental, car sales and features an attached paint shop, so they try to be the one-stop-shop for their loyal customer base. Whatever parts they need for collision repair, they’re usually able to get.
“OEC’s CollisionLink Shop features and upfront pricing are great,” Blauth says, “because instead of having to call and ask what our pricing is (unlike other vendors), I’ve been able to get our dealers to move over to OEC to ease the whole transaction.”
Blauth also notes that his shop handles a lot of OEC’s beta testing for new products and services. As CollisionLink Shop continues to adapt its upfront pricing tool to the needs of collision repair shops everywhere and within an ever-changing market—on the fly, as Blauth says—attention to detail matters. Especially now.
“In the Covid era, the shops that run skeleton crews (like ours) often demand a long call when ordering parts,” he says.
“With CollisionLink Shop, you can simply send your parts order and it’s filled; it’s done. You don’t have to spend 15-20 minutes listening to bad hold music! CollisionLink Shop absolutely helps increase our efficiency that way.”
Blauth notes that CollisionLink Shop eliminates the worst parts of the communication process; Mineola Paint and Body knows what the invoice and discount will be, so there’s no waiting for the other party and (more importantly) there’s no surprises at the bottom of the order.
“There’s no hassling,” Blauth says, “and sometimes sales guys from other suppliers act as middlemen. With CollisionLink Shop we know who’s on our side as the supplier. I don’t have to sit there and try to point out over the phone with a parts guy about what we need, repeating VIN or SKU numbers for specific vehicles or products. Ordering through CollisionLink Shop saves at least one hour per parts order.”
For any estimator, that times adds up—Blauth estimates he makes at least four to five orders per week, so that’s almost a half-day in the shop to devote to, well, anything else that needs to get done. When time is money, CollisionLink Shop delivers.
CollisionLink Shop also eases direct communications with customers. Blauth can pull up the parts he needs on his computer, see the price and look his clients in the eye and tell them—down to the cent—what the final cost will be. No hidden fees. No stumbling over ifs, ands or buts. Just straight talk.
“They can leave here with the exact cost of the repair without having to shop around,” Blauth says.
As a relatively new user to CollisionLink Shop, Blauth was amazed at how simple and intuitive the interface was and even more thrilled with how responsive OEC is to suggestions about how to make his job easier.
“We’re in it [CollisionLink] day to day, and we know that we matter to them. Our feedback helps improve their product and their willingness to change even helps us with the dealers as well.”
To Blauth, the more he used CollisionLink Shop, the easier it became. When a local dealer implemented it and put their discount in, it took all the guesswork out of Mineola’s numbers, increasing the accuracy of estimates and reports.
“Not only is the pricing correct but the stock is correct,” Blauth says, “and that also helps with delays; I can communicate with customers accurately, stating, for example, that a part is coming from Indianapolis and I won’t have it for three days. I can also communicate with the insurance company about a rental for that customer, easing that relationship as well.”
The time Blauth saves with CollisionLink Shop helps him take the eagle’s-eye view of his shop, his team and his customers. And from up here, he says, the view is pretty good.