Marketing OEM repairs, quality
Pleasant Valley, Mo.—It’s an ad designed to elicit an emotional response: clutching a teddy bear, a smiling young girl is cradled in her mother’s arm as they leave a doctor’s office.
“Would you take your child to a noncertified doctor?” the headline asks rhetorically. “Then why would you take your vehicle, that you drive your family in every day, to a noncertified body shop? Don’t risk your family’s safety. Always take your vehicle to a 100% certified body shop, where we guarantee a safe, quality repair every time! Insist only on Precision Collision Center.”
It’s not the common gimmick other shops use around deer-collision season of “Hit a deer, get a turkey,” said Chris Jones, who owns and operates Precision’s two locations in Gladstone and Pleasant Valley with his wife, Mallory, who serves as the company’s marketing and design director.
“We’re trying to think outside of the box to get customers into the mentality that it’s not what the insurance company wants, it’s what you want and deserve.”
Jones has long stressed the shops’ I-CAR Gold Class status and the training he pays for his technicians, and in recent years his shops have become affiliated with OEM certification programs from Assured Performance for Chrysler, Fiat, Ford, GM, Hyundai, Kia, and Nissan, and Honda’s ProFirst program for Honda and Acura. The programs require his shops to be I-CAR Gold Class, with ongoing training; OEM procedure subscriptions; and certain tools and equipment, including those needed to repair Ford’s aluminum trucks.
“We pay thousands and thousands of dollars for training and certifications to ensure that we’re repairing these vehicles correctly,” Jones said.
Yet, while insurers ask for shops like his to maintain their training and I-CAR Gold Class recognition, when it comes to paying for repairs, some adjusters often ignore I-CAR and OEM requirements, he said, and he also must compete with backyard shops with little overhead or training, which attract consumers who seek to save their deductible, unknowingly sacrificing safety and quality while the backyard shops are paid at the same rate as fully trained and equipped shops.
It’s one reason Jones said he’s taken a harder look in recent years at which insurers he has direct repair agreements with. In the past few years, he ended a large DRP relationship that had changed from being what he said was a model program just a few years ago to refusing to pay for quality- and safety-minded repairs and demanding more concessions.
“It was not feasible to stay on that program. But we’re going to fix fewer cars, but fix them correctly. And we can sleep at night, because we know we’re putting out a product that the consumer deserves.”
The task of being paid for proper repairs wouldn’t be so difficult if other shops wouldn’t roll over to insurers’ demands, Jones said, whom he figures depend on referrals for customers they may see only once, whereas he strives to make customers for life who also refer new customers to him.
Mobile apps, where consumers contact their insurer through their smartphone with basic details and a few photos, may be just now attracting mainstream attention, but Jones said he’s been using his own, from Bodyshop Booster, for more than four years. Usage of the app varies, sometimes four or five a week, sometimes four or five a month. Although some major insurers’ apps seem to promote lowball estimates, he said Precision uses the app as a sales tool to get the customer to come in for a thorough estimate if the damage appears to be more than a minor door ding or scuff.
“If we receive a request through the app during normal business hours, we get on it and within an hour or two, either an estimate written or the customer contacted to schedule an estimate appointment. Hopefully that gets us to the customer before they get steered someplace else for perhaps one of the cheaper repairs. Again, quality and safety matter every time to us. We want and need a good estimate up front, saving time for everyone during the actual repair process.”
He’s also looking to add additional locations in the near future, believing growth is necessary as the industry will evolve into only large “A” shops and small “C” shops, which will only be able to do cosmetic repairs and restorations.
“We have to get into that next generation of marketing for certified shops that are doing their due diligence,” Jones said. Whether we are a ‘preferred shop’ on your insurance company’s list or not, we can handle all of your repair needs from start to finish and deliver a safe and quality repair, including a limited lifetime warranty.
“We work hard to earn your business the first time. And we work harder to make sure you come back a second, third, or fourth time or that you refer your friends to us.”