NASHVILLE, TENN., Dec. 6, 2021—For shop owners wondering how to turn these new technologies into a genuine profit center for their businesses, the message may be simple, but it’s not necessarily easy: You need to get your story out there, however you can.
That’s what panelists suggested to attendees during the ADAPT: Automotive Technology Summit session, “TECH Talk: Technology as a Profit Center.”
Four shop owner/operators in the mechanical and collision repair industries who have successfully ventured into the ADAS calibration or electric vehicle repair space shared the strategies that have worked well as they’ve grown their businesses.
Michelle Corson, CEO of On the Road Garage in Dallas, said that hiring and training technicians and team members, in general, is the first step to even thinking about venturing into this line of work.
“We saw there was a lot of pent-up demand in the collision repair industry,” she said. “We have a mission to try to bring people from outside the industry.”
Corson and Bryan Kauffeld, owner of Ulmer’s Auto Care and ADAS Calibration Center of Cincinnati, both said that if training isn’t readily available in your area, be resourceful. Look for opportunities, either in your area or out of state. Some entities will even pay your staff to attend training. Kauffeld utilized some empty space in his facility to build a training center, which allows him to attract trainers and vendors to come and do training. But bottom line, the message is the same: Train now before it’s too late.
“There is a ton of institutional knowledge that will leave our industry very soon,” Corson said.
A nice facility is a marketing tactic unto itself, Jason Ziese and Darell Amberson of LaMettry’s Collision in Minnesota. It can be a way to attract other vendors, like glass repair or traditional “subletters” and let those companies know they can utilize your facility and its capabilities.
As for marketing in more traditional fashions, Corson said she believes it will be difficult to do so if your shop is not certified, particularly because parts could be restricted (as panelists suggested in other panels). Her company has had success getting creative in its marketing by electrifying classic cars, which has drawn attention to what they’re doing.
Ziese said a message of, “We are your EV and hybrid repair experts” is shockingly effective, mainly because few shops are advertising as such.
“So many people don’t want to work on this right now but someone will have to work on this so it might as well be me,” he said. “Take that in and advertise for that.”
Moderator Chris Chesney echoed that sentiment: “Hang the sign up early. Stick yourself out there and challenge your team with the skills and knowledge required to get into that space. That’s the next revenue stream that’s coming.”