Q: How have you seen the industry change over your career?
I feel like the industry is becoming more impersonal. Business owners used to have to earn their jobs and customers. A customer would come in for an estimate and you didn’t necessarily need to provide the cheapest estimate to get the job. You had to be the sincerest shop and treat people the best.
Things have changed. We always write an honest estimate, but we have a shop across town that always seems to write a $2,000 estimate. That’s bad business, dishonest business. You have to be honest with customers and let them know what’s going on from the beginning so you can earn their business. If it’s a total, it’s a total. We just totaled a drug car, and I was honest with the customer from day one and he thanked me for educating him because it had fentanyl in it.
That’s another thing we’re experiencing, dealing with theft recoveries and fentanyl. It can cost $1,200 to drug test a car and $3,500 for remediation to decontaminate it. That’s nearly $5,000 without even fixing a panel, so it’s going to be a total. In addition to the cost, we need to be careful with technicians being exposed.
With the changes taking place with vehicles and repairs, you must keep your head up and look around and see what is next. One of the things I tell my guys all the time, especially my office people is, ‘I’m not worried about fixing cars today, but how are we going to do a better job tomorrow and even better next month?’