Month: October 2014

Welded Sectioning Procedures in Collision Repair Estimating

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In this episode of Repair University we discuss considerations and planning for an estimator if the repair will call for the replacement or sectioning of a welded component.

The untapped talent pool

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Recruiting and mentoring women can be a key to your company’s growth, success


Are you overlooking half of your potential new hires? You are if you aren’t actively recruiting women into your organization.

Talking recently with Marlene Spence, I was reminded of just how many talented, hard-working and successful women I’ve met in our industry. When I was an MSO, for example, the majority of my estimating and administrative staff was women. Most had little or no previous experience working on cars when I hired them. But I found they had great attention to detail, a critical skill when identifying damage or line matching an estimate. And I found them incredibly empathetic with customers, which studies have found is a crucial element required to earn a customer’s trust and business in our industry.

Marlene is a great example of the opportunities for women in this industry, beyond front-office jobs. Those of you who know just how many shops I’ve been in throughout my career may be surprised when I say that Marlene is, hand downs, the best painter I’ve ever seen in my life. Her custom work is unbelievable (you can see some of it in her “Portfolio” album on her Facebook page.)

“I was an art major at Honolulu Community College when I had a 1969 Dodge Dart that needed rust repair and a new paint job,” Marlene told me. “I took it to a friend who did that type of work and went to his shop every day to watch how he repaired and painted that car. I was so interested that I switched my major from art to autobody repair and painting.”

Marlene is so humble that she might not tell you that by the time she graduated in 1999, she received outstanding student awards from her autobody and painting instructors and fellow students.

Her career has included everything from painting U.S. Navy submarines to working as a paint mixer and tech for several jobbers in Hawaii and Oregon. She ran her own custom-paint business for four years. And she now is with Hi-Line Distributors, a jobber in Hawaii, where she is involved in testing and training of new p

roducts in Hawaii’s somewhat unique climate and market.

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Collision Photography

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Taking high quality collision photos is a must when validating vehicle damage written on your estimate. Hi-Tech Toolbox™ hosts Bob Medved and Roger Cada discuss and demonstrate proven methods for improving your collision photography.

Paint materials profits

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Think you’re not making enough profit on paint materials? Here’s the process I would use to determine if this is the case and if so, fix it.

First, I’d look at your profit-and-loss statement to see how you are doing against two key benchmarks for paint materials. I’d look at your sales to make sure that paint materials account for 10 percent or more of your total sales. Then I’d look at your cost-of-goods-sold (COGS) to make sure you weren’t spending more than 6 percent of your total sales on paint materials.

Those benchmarks on a per-job basis mean that for a $1,000 job, you should charge $100 or more for paint materials, and your paint materials costs for that job shouldn’t exceed $60.

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Change the industry instead of letting the industry change you

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Are you controlled by your circumstances, or are you taking charge of your own destiny?

I don’t use the term life-changing experience very often, but I recently had one. A lot of people I respect and admire in this industry, people I consider to be successful or even my mentors, had told me about attending (or sending key employees) to Discover Leadership Training in Houston, Texas. I was intrigued, so I signed up and attended. I’m not getting paid to endorse it, but I can honestly say it was life changing.

I won’t go into all that I came away with, but one of the key things Mike Jones of Discover Leadership said that really resonated with me was this: Do you want to be the flag, or the wind? The flag is visible and gets all the attention. But think about it: The wind controls the flag. The wind determines whether the flag moves at all, and sets the direction for the flag.

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Retail Tip Gross Profit Margin

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Tips on how to figure out your Gross Profit Benchmark