Troyz finds niche in ever-increasing MSO-driven world with personalized service
Warrenton, Mo.—Even though large, high-production, DRP-driven MSO shops are the trend, industry experts acknowledge there is a place for other successful business models. Troy Spenard, owner of Troyz Auto Body, has a niche in delivering customized, personal service and quality at a slightly slower pace.
Spenard likens his relationship with customers, who come from not just in town, but from the greater St. Louis-metro area, to a doctor/patient relationship.
“It’s who you like, who services you, and who can get you in and out,” he said. “As long as the doctor is taking care of you, and is someone you like, trust, and build a good relationship with, you’re OK.”
When assessing a vehicle’s damage (he uses Audatex estimating software), Spenard said he consults with the customer to determine the best course of action, taking on some jobs that other shops may turn away because of time constraints or because they deem replacement necessary. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach, he said. Repairing some damage instead of replacing with new parts may take more time, but it can result in higher quality and retention of the as-manufactured corrosion protection, he noted.
“Every car has a story,” he said. “I’m not scared of a hard hit, but some cars need to be crushed, and some need to be fixed. I make sure the car is right before it leaves here. The bottom line is the customer needs to be safe and feel safe in their vehicle.”
Absent insurer agreements, Spenard said he can better advocate for the customer, citing a recent example of a pickup truck with a frame that he judged was tweaked too much to be repaired with a section and needed a replacement frame.
Spenard said he offers “extras” to repair a vehicle to as high of a quality as possible, preferring to invest additional time and materials in going above and beyond what the repair — and the insurance reimbursement — sometimes call for, including reworking previous “hacked” repairs and blending paint in areas not always called for to ensure a correct color match.
“I want the good reputation from my repairs,” he said. “If a car looks good, that’s a billboard going down the street. It’s cheaper to do that than advertising.”
Some customers go over the vehicle with a fine-tooth comb, checking all of the panel gaps, and others don’t even look at the vehicle after getting the keys, Spenard said. But even the disinterested vehicle owners have neighbors and friends asking who repaired the vehicle, and they would notice a poorly aligned fender or a lower quality paint match.
He’s sprayed a number of paint lines, but Spenard said he’s used his current one, Spies Hecker, the longest, praising its user-friendliness, and sprays it in a heated Ameri-Cure booth that he added a couple of years ago.
Starting in a shop building he shared with another business just down the road in 2006, Spenard bought an existing collision repair business at his present location in 2007 and has grown the business each year, he said, pouring his own “blood, sweat, and tears” into each vehicle that comes in and paying attention to keeping overhead costs low and mindful of profit margins on paint and materials and keeping waste to a minimum.
With the aid of his wife, Kim, managing the office, Spenard runs most aspects of the shop, from estimating to structural repair, bodywork, and painting, typically working on three or four jobs at a time. As his shop’s production is geared, anyone helping share the load would need to be a combination technician, he said, a disappearing trait these days, especially in performing more repair than replace.
Although he’s performed cosmetic repair on aluminum vehicles, including Audis and Bentleys, Spenard will invest in additional tools and equipment to accommodate the repair of more lightweight materials.
What damage can safely be repaired with changing materials has changed, and Spenard said he looks to I-CAR for continuing education. His training began in vo-tech his junior year of high school. Spenard worked full time his senior year as a body shop apprentice in his hometown of Bourbonnais, Ill., attending Wyoming Technical Institute before working for independent and dealership collision repair shops and for paint suppliers in the St. Louis area.
Along with changing materials, the increased complexity of vehicles means scans will show issues that would not illuminate the check engine light. It’s a procedure he’s found insurance companies unwilling to pay for, he said, but need to.
“If you go to a doctor, he takes a blood pressure test, he takes your temperature, your height and weight. I think the same should apply to cars.”