Entrepreneurship & Personal Wellbeing Explored
Article by Shey Knight
Whenever you feel down, take a look around, you will find some reason to feel optimistic that will renew your optimism.
This may be the only article you have read or will read that finds a positive light within the darkness that was COVID. The pandemic certainly hurt many body shops and pushed the door shut on many. It certainly affected our shop, but as they say, “What hurts you can sometimes make you stronger.” That’s how I feel about our shop and our industry right now. While our sales were greatly affected, we squeezed our belts and wallets and made it through like most of you and we learned a lot about operating even more lean than normal and how to bounce back in a hurry.
I didn’t realize it until recently, but I realised that we have developed a “shelter in place” mentality since COVID. Since COVID, we have not left the building. I mean that figuratively. We have been focused on “OUR” shop, rebuilding sales and learning to operate in this new environment. Other than quick trips for board meetings and a training event here and there, we have stayed at home.
However, recently, I decided to get back out there and went to the Southeast Collision Conference near Richmond, Virginia. I have attended many conferences, training and industry events over the years, but this was the first time that I saw and felt a cultural shift, a renewed optimism in our industry and it’s exciting!
What do I mean? I spoke with numerous shop owners at the conference and since the conference and the new conversations at the tables are about electric vehicles, training events, repairing cars correctly, certifications, calibrations, equipment purchases, expansion and, oh, profitability—and shop owner vacations! This is a much better conversation than talking about how to get on an insurance program, complaining about not making money, low labor rate reimbursement, aftermarket parts and so on. You old timers know what I’m talking about.
Practically every shop owner that we had a discussion with is super busy! Many are experiencing record sales and profits. Many are booked well into summer months. I have heard only one say, “We are getting by.” Quite frankly, if you are just “getting by” now, then you may have missed your opportunity and it may be time for you to do something different. Just my opinion.
Since the pandemic, we have all had to learn to operate differently. Parts are still difficult to get in many cases. Appraisers are no longer coming to our shops and insurers are trying to push their claims handling on us. Perhaps that’s our new biggest industry challenge. Sounds like a topic for another time. Otherwise, many of us are trying to learn how to navigate the new “busy.” We are focusing on how to manage extreme insurance processing delays, overload of total losses and manage, repair plan and document repairs with backordered parts while trying to attract and retain labor.
At our shop, we do not meet with, fuss, cuss or discuss estimates and damages with insurance personnel. However, if the adjuster or estimator is an old timer then we may chat about each other’s lives. The following week after the conference, I had such a conversation with an insurance estimator for a large insurance company who told me that his DRP shops are refusing DRP work in and around our market because they are so busy with other work. This is good news! Generally speaking, once those shops understand they can repair cars better and safer without the insurance company’s influence and demands, the better for all of us.
For as long as I can remember, It seems that insurance companies have always had an upper hand on our industry. Maybe for the first time ever there is a shift of power—I literally left the event excited with a renewed spirit and energy. Shop owners were spending money at this event! They were buying equipment and reinvesting in their facilities, they are expanding and buying out other shops because their sales dictated it and they needed a place for that new equipment. They are finding their niches in the EV markets and OEM certifications or simply reinvesting to secure their spot in the market. The entire conference was a positive experience.
I am speaking from personal experience and from what I have seen over the years. We can sometimes get stuck in our own little world and not see the light around us. We can become self centered and focus on our own shops. Maybe you still have that “shelter in place” mentality also. I encourage you to get out of your shop! Call another shop owner, visit another shop, go to a training event, go to a conference and keep the optimism and momentum going!
Article Credit to Fender Bender.
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