Online marketing helps put Omaha shop in touch with customers
Omaha, Neb. - Wreck A Mended’s catchy name communicates what the collision repair shop does – mend wrecked vehicles. It also suggests what president Jarrod Krumwiede wants - recommendations.
“Customer referrals are huge for us. So, yeah, we want to be recommended,” he said. “The name is something I had in my head a couple of years prior to doing this.
Krumwiede opened the shop in 2014 after working for eight years as collision repair manager at Baxter Performance Auto Body in Omaha, and for 10 years before that in the insurance industry. “I traveled the country doing catastrophe claims,” he said.
After the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he said he looked to stay close to Omaha and joined Baxter Performance Auto Body as a manager.
There, Krumwiede led an impressive expansion. “We grew from 11 employees to 74 employees,” he said. “I got to the point where I was an HR man.”
But handling staffing issues took time away from key aspects of the collision repair business. “I love dealing with customers and I wasn’t getting to do that anymore,” he said.
Krumwiede started to look for the right location to open a body shop, and found a long-term lease with an option to buy at the 9,000-square-foot facility at 4212 S. 133rd St. The brick-front building is nestled in the I and L street industrial area of west Omaha.
Wreck A Mended opened in May 2014 with Krumwiede, vice president Dave Reno, whom Krumwiede worked with at Baxter, and Krumwiede’s son Quinton, a paintless dent repair specialist. The timing was significant. An immense hailstorm had just hit nearby Blair, Neb. The shop initially specialized in paintless dent repair, and expanded to handle full collision repair in September 2014.
A key move for Krumwiede was working with D&R Auto Paint and Supply. “We started with water-based product when we opened, so we didn’t have to change later,” he said. “D&R really helped us.”
Krumwiede said he pays monthly for the PPG Envirobase HP mixing system, rather than purchasing it in full up front. “We were able to use that money for other necessities,” he said.
The paint booth is a semi-downdraft Global Finishing Solutions Vertex, with an Ultra XD Mix paint mixing room. “We can mix literally any color on site,” he said.
Krumwiede said he has picked up other equipment piece by piece. “I’d get on the Internet and look for people who were upgrading, and who took good care of their stuff,” he said. The Chief Automotive Technologies SR 21 frame machine was purchased from a tech school in Oklahoma, Krumwiede said, and he added a new Chief Velocity measuring system. The Pro Spot resistance spot welder came from a shop in Kentucky.
Wreck A Mended’s 7,500-square-foot shop has all new lighting and electrical. “The guys take care of the place like it’s theirs,” Krumwiede said.
The company now employs eight people, many of whom are Baxter alums. “We were able to hand-pick the people who came with us,” Krumwiede said. “We don’t have to worry about the quality of the work. These guys are so proud of what they do, and they’re so good at it.”
The shop has experienced impressive growth since the early months, when it averaged $20,000. “We’re on pace to do $1 million this year,” he said. “It’s where we want to be with one shop.”
Online marketing and social media have been instrumental in getting the word out about Wreck A Mended. “It’s amazing. You’d think it’s all kids, millennials, but it’s not. We have 70-year-olds finding us on Google,” Krumwiede said.
He started with a Facebook page. “It got my friends and my wife’s friends’ friends,” Krumwiede said. “Now as we’ve grown, 50 percent of our customers come from social media, Yelp or Google.”
A boost came when one of the shop’s collision repair clients proposed handling Krumwiede’s social media and online marketing. He said he believes turning the task over to an expert has been instrumental in the shop’s landing high in Google and Yelp search results. “We’re at the top of the not-paid results,” he said. “And we don’t purchase ads. We never ask for a review.”
Krumwiede said he does ask customers how they heard about the business. “It’s on the first page of the paperwork they fill out,” he said. “We know where they came from. We always thank them for finding us on Yelp or wherever.”
Krumwiede’s background as a claims appraiser and catastrophe damage administrator for Allstate and The Hartford insurance companies proved to be an asset to the business, he said. Vice president Dave Reno also has 18 years of experience working for or with insurers. “We know what insurance companies are looking for,” Krumwiede said. “We get along well with our insurance company partners.”
Some collision repair shops bristle against insurers’ demands. “You can fight them, but you just get another name for yourself and it’s not a very good one,” he said. “Some guys, they’re still fighting it and that’s not going to get them anywhere.”
Krumwiede, who has five sons, and Reno have an eye on eventual expansion. “Dave has family in the business,” Krumwiede said. “It’s more of a family business, not just for me.”