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Thread: advertising tips

  1. #1

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    Hey guys this is my first post. I've been painting cars at my house for a while now and im wanting to open a collision center. Do y'all have any advice on advertising or getting hooked up with insurance companies?

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    autobodytech43 Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by drew_dillard2003 View Post
    Hey guys this is my first post. I've been painting cars at my house for a while now and im wanting to open a collision center. Do y'all have any advice on advertising or getting hooked up with insurance companies?
    do some free work for them. Get in contact with an adjuster and do his car up. You'll also need all the appropriate licenses. Some insurance companies want icar gold status for the shop or at least welding certificates. Advertising works well when you know how to get your name to pop up in search engines. You can hire a guy that knows all the tricks of the trade for that. A good website helps too. If you want to do insurance work you should be able to do quick quality work, eat the deductible, and have a few free loaner cars. You can go to the auction and pick up one or two civics to fix up to start. They don't have to be grand, just presentable and not embarrassing for them to drive to work for a few days. If you're a business minded guy and not only a tech you will get the name out and network.

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    A Franchise...
    Smash freak!

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    Quote Originally Posted by drew_dillard2003 View Post
    Hey guys this is my first post. I've been painting cars at my house for a while now and im wanting to open a collision center. Do y'all have any advice on advertising or getting hooked up with insurance companies?
    If you need to meet regulations you'll need a lot of money and equipment before you open the doors. Operating out of your garage and opening a shop are two different worlds. One is fun and the other is a lot of time and money.

    You should find a location, sign a lease and register your business with the proper authorities. Install the necessary spray booth, frame straightening equipment, welders, computer system etc., etc. then approach some insurance companies. However, you would probably be better off starting by doing "dealer work" and hanging signs in laundromats while you get all your ducks in a row THEN approach the insurance companies.

    It may be different in your location but here in the Northeast it probably would cost at least a couple hundred thousand to open a bare bones shop and get it up and running.
    Last edited by Len; 02-17-2012 at 11:26 PM. Reason: spelling

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    autobodytech43 Guest

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    you actually can do insurance work with a mobile license but you'll need a booth license# and that means you have to be on the lease. Don't think many insurance companies would go with you supposively
    outsourcing paint.

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    Quote Originally Posted by autobodytech43 View Post
    you actually can do insurance work with a mobile license but you'll need a booth license# and that means you have to be on the lease. Don't think many insurance companies would go with you supposively
    outsourcing paint.
    actually they do i used to contract out 80% of my work and never had an issue,we were doing mobile pdr at one time and adjusters would be here weekly out of say 20 adjusters only two asked "so do you paint them here?"in which i replied no we do exchange work with other shops we pdr their cars they paint ours they shrugged like uh whatever and handed me the checks..

    now 95% is in house unless it needs frame work then it goes somewhere else first..

  7. #7
    autobodytech43 Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by style View Post
    actually they do i used to contract out 80% of my work and never had an issue,we were doing mobile pdr at one time and adjusters would be here weekly out of say 20 adjusters only two asked "so do you paint them here?"in which i replied no we do exchange work with other shops we pdr their cars they paint ours they shrugged like uh whatever and handed me the checks..

    now 95% is in house unless it needs frame work then it goes somewhere else first..
    out here you need a booth # and a welding certificate, but I'm talking good insurance companies.

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    Quote Originally Posted by autobodytech43 View Post
    out here you need a booth # and a welding certificate, but I'm talking good insurance companies.
    just stuff like geico state farm allstate fred loya(alot af fred loyas stuff).. they just want a tax id number and nothing more..

    my two edges that keep me rolling are fred loya ins and an accident atty locally who has 10 offices all over the city and one car lot that deals in high end cars,my most recent and best acct is a transport company that keeps damaging cars...

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    Quote Originally Posted by style View Post
    just stuff like geico state farm allstate fred loya(alot af fred loyas stuff).. they just want a tax id number and nothing more..

    my two edges that keep me rolling are fred loya ins and an accident atty locally who has 10 offices all over the city and one car lot that deals in high end cars,my most recent and best acct is a transport company that keeps damaging cars...
    Obviously you're not talking about being an insurance company "preferred" shop. At least in this neighborhood they want a computer system that they can access from their office to see how much money you're making along with other hoops that you need to jump through before they STEER business to your shop.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Len View Post
    If you need to meet regulations you'll need a lot of money and equipment before you open the doors. Operating out of your garage and opening a shop are two different worlds. One is fun and the other is a lot of time and money.

    You should find a location, sign a lease and register your business with the proper authorities. Install the necessary spray booth, frame straightening equipment, welders, computer system etc., etc. then approach some insurance companies. However, you would probably be better off starting by doing "dealer work" and hanging signs in laundromats while you get all your ducks in a row THEN approach the insurance companies.

    It may be different in your location but here in the Northeast it probably would cost at least a couple hundred thousand to open a bare bones shop and get it up and running.
    200 K seems on the high side to start a bare bones shop. Can you do a rough breakdown on your figure? Mike

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    Quote Originally Posted by All Dry View Post
    200 K seems on the high side to start a bare bones shop. Can you do a rough breakdown on your figure? Mike
    For a shop that is a "preferred" business that insurance companies steer their clients to you need a facility that has all the proper equipment and licensing in place. This means a booth (probably a downdraft), a frame machine, computer estimating, welders and other equipment that can bring the vehicle to pre-accident condition, a facility that their clients are comfortable dealing with that has a proper office and work areas. Maybe MARTINSR will chime in on this, he actually manages a shop and knows what it takes. Most geographic areas are different and in rural areas where insurance companies don't have many shops to choose form they tend to be more forgiving but if you need to compete with other shops in your area then $200K could be a low figure especially if you need to purchase a building.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Len View Post
    Obviously you're not talking about being an insurance company "preferred" shop. At least in this neighborhood they want a computer system that they can access from their office to see how much money you're making along with other hoops that you need to jump through before they STEER business to your shop.
    drp shops are not legal in texas..

    so anyone has fair game around here..

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    Quote Originally Posted by Len View Post
    For a shop that is a "preferred" business that insurance companies steer their clients to you need a facility that has all the proper equipment and licensing in place. This means a booth (probably a downdraft), a frame machine, computer estimating, welders and other equipment that can bring the vehicle to pre-accident condition, a facility that their clients are comfortable dealing with that has a proper office and work areas. Maybe MARTINSR will chime in on this, he actually manages a shop and knows what it takes. Most geographic areas are different and in rural areas where insurance companies don't have many shops to choose form they tend to be more forgiving but if you need to compete with other shops in your area then $200K could be a low figure especially if you need to purchase a building.
    Thanks for the compliment, but I don't manage the shop, I just sound like I do, here and there.

    But I am in the office and am in on most discussions and sales numbers and such. Yes, a quarter a million bucks for sure. These days, at least with who we work with (a number of large insurance companies) we have to have a heated down draft (there is a hundred grand$ rigth there!We have two), a computer measuring system to provide printouts ICAR and ASE certified techs, techs with a welding cert, computer estimating system. And this includes one that they use! You could be using Mitchell Click here and you get a new company on board who wants you to use Pathways click here

    Building a shop is like building a hot rod, figure out how much it will cost, then double that, then triple that, you will still be short but at least not as bad as if you would have went with your first estimate.

    A cost that a lot of people miss is the lifetime warranty that we provide. It is required by all the insurance companies we are DRP with.

    One of the best parts with being a DRP, we don't have to haggle with the insurance companies. When you are a DRP you are trusted, they audit our estimates once in a while. Sometimes it is many months before we see someone from the company. They spend an hour in the shop going over five or six repairs and they leave for another number of months. Because of this, work goes very smooth. We have had a couple of good examples of this in the shop recently. We had two cars with extensive damage, with multiple wheels being hit. When we see ANY misalignment of a wheel with the DRP, there are no questions asked. ALL suspension on that wheel gets changed. This is again, our opinion, it is left up to us, if we feel it has been compromised, it gets changed, end of discussion. And we do change ALL components in this case, control arms, hub, bearing, ball joints, tie rod end, the works. We change all those parts and we align it, done deal back to the customer. But with the non DRP, oh no they aren't going to do that. They want you to change one part and see if it works, then another, then another. Now, we don't play games, with the times. It's very simple, we will do this but we will be paid NO overlap on the times, each new part is like a whole new job. We also charge for each "diagnosis alignment" (we have a Hunter laser measuring alignment system) but your customer hates you! Your customer is the one who gets put thru the wringer, with their car tied up while you dance the soft shoe act with their insurance company.
    There are NO QUESTIONS ASKED when we tell the DRP we need something, we provide them photos of the damaged parts and there are NO QUESTIONS asked. The non DRP, oh my God, they need to come out and see it and tell us it doesn't need it or we can fix it, or something stupid.

    When we tell the DRP it's a total, then it's a total, no games. The non DRP, LOLOLOLOLOL, we recently had an 09 Jetta that we wrote up, not even getting into the details, just the large parts made it a total, done deal. They came in and told us how it could be saved and we told them, no, it's going to need this and this and this, oh no, after pulling and getting this part used and this part aftermarket we can save it. We went along with it, ok, but we WILL be paid for everything we do, and if it totals half way thru, we WILL be paid for time AND storage. We delivered it yesterday, the repair was at 119% of value! LOLOL, now, you may say "You made money, why is that bad"? Because it was in the shop for TWO MONTHS! Sorry, but the cost of the property, the payment made on that space it was in, the lost sales of screwing with it, it wasn't worth it. Yes we made money on the books, but we could have gotten a heck of a lot of cars out the gate making more GP on them, so it was a looser.

    All I can say is you have a LOT to learn to go from a garage paint job to a DRP, a LOT to learn. You are starting here and that is good but you are HUNDREDS of miles away from doing it. Just keep plugging away and you will learn what you need.

    There is one thing missed by people who open their own shop after doing the work for a while. They think, Geeez, I can do this work, why do I need to let my boss make so much money. What they don't see is that it takes a BUSINESSMAN to run a business, not a bodyman. Now, you can be both, but it doesn't happen very often. There isn't one bit of difference between running a liquor store and a body shop, a landscaper and a body body shop, not a bit of difference, sales are sales, business is business. You are no closer at having a DRP approved, state and city licensed bodyshop than a Liquor store or photography studio. This isn't saying you can't do it, not by a long shot, go for it. But understand that you are MILES from having what you need.

    Brian

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    On the subject of advertising, forget the word, it doesn't exist. At least not how I see it, this maybe a goofy way to look at it but "advertising" is something you do for people to see who WANT what you have right now and they see your ad and come and buy it. But there is NO BODY anywhere, in any state in any country who is EVER going to need a bodyshop. NO BODY, not you, not me, no one is ever going to get in an accident so you will be throwing money way advertising. No one is going to see your ad the day they have the accident and come to you, it doesn't work like that.

    No, what you do in the autobody business is you "market". You keep your name out there, you sponsor school athletics and arts programs. You give out pens and pour wine at the local wine festival (we have done this for 28 years) and hand out a folder that one would put their insurance and registration info in their glove box (with your name on it of course, we have given out TENS OF THOUSANDS of them) you have a little "how to get your car fixed" show on local radio (we do), you are in the parades in town, you go out and talk to insurance agents (and yes, help them out with their problems) you stay in the face of the public so they can't forget your name. We even tell customers when they leave, please come back and stop in for a cup of coffee or treat (that is always out in the office), you don't have to have an accident to come in and say hi.

    I opened a shop when I was a young buck of 23 and had it open for 13 years, but it wasn't very successful, I paid the bills but that was about it. If I had to do it over again, I would do all the things I thought I didn't have time for, like networking in the local Chamber of Commerce or local business associations, I would GO TO BUSINESS classes at the local community college, I would STUDY the business as much as the hammer and dolly work.

    There is SOOOO Much more to it than fixing cars! That is so hard for people to overcome, that the shop is simply a "time factory" and paint and parts store, THAT is what you are. You need to make a profit on the time, paint materials and parts you sell, Business is business, sales are sales.

    Brian

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