What Body Shops REALLY Need

What Body Shops REALLY Need

With 2021 finally on the horizon, we all have an opportunity to return to, what I hope is, a “new normal.” For far too many business owners, the old normal was actually, kind of, well… mediocre. Why settle for a mediocre 2021 when there is so much opportunity and abundance available to those businesses who seek to learn and grow from this year of pandemic chaos? Let’s stand up and just say no to the status quo!

Just say no to the status quo!

For years I have preached the need for collision shop owners to get out of the victim zone, learn new skills and step into their massive potential as business operators.

I must admit to being frustrated by the reluctance of body shop leaders to address the real internal problems they are facing in business instead of blaming external industry or societal circumstances. Reluctance to accept personal responsibility is at the very root of a business’s limitations, while true freedom is found when one looks in the mirror to truly see the source of their problems.

The good news is, anyone who is willing to accept personal responsibility and embrace the need to learn the skills for success in today’s competitive industry can absolutely crush it!

Where to Start

The willingness is there, but sometimes it can be hard for shop leaders to know where to start. They don’t know which new skills matter most. They may know what they want to learn, but often not what they need to learn.

For example, if my company offered an educational program on how to “out-negotiate” insurance appraisers, it would fill up in an instant. While people want to get one over on the insurance guy, they would be better served learning to build a proper repair plan (with photos, documentation, and proof of OEM procedures) and produce an estimate that doesn’t require a bunch of manipulative negotiations. My observations of social media’s keyboard warriors indicate the people doing most of the complaining about the insurance industry are the ones who still don’t prepare a good case for what they want to get paid for.

So, before you lick the stamp for the hate mail, I will acknowledge that insurers are often a struggle to deal with. But I will also say that they have been since I entered the trade over 35 years ago! This is not new news. You have a choice in this scenario to focus on something you can control, or something you can’t… Your call.

Another example of want versus need is a shop’s beliefs around finding good help. Shops want a steady pipeline of workers to fill the void every time someone quits. What the shop needs is to build a better culture through sound leadership principles and on-going leadership training. This is another common topic amongst the social media keyboard warriors who refuse to accept the fact that people quit because it is simply not a good place to work. Tough pill to swallow, but true and extremely relevant for shop owners who want to be successful in today’s collision repair world. The world’s best operators focus on improving culture every day while proactively recruiting so they always have good people willing to work at their shops.

Here’s a few more…

  • Shops want better processes to make their chaos go away. Shops need to develop better leadership skills to make processes stick.
  • Shops want to get paid more from billpayers. Shops need to demonstrate why they should get paid for it.
  • Shops want to attract more customers. Shops need to create a better experience for the ones they already have.
  • Shops want millennials to work harder. Shops need to build a business that makes people want to work harder.
  • Shops want more money. Shops need to learn business skills on how to make money.
  • Shops want to collect accounts receivable money faster. Shops need to learn how to manage their files accurately and close repair orders in a timely fashion.

Okay, okay… I’ll stop. I really could go on and on, but hopefully you get the point by now. My team and I here at Elite Body Shop Solutions have passed on many opportunities to provide education on what people say they want in favor of what they really need. And I am okay with that since I am in this game for the long haul. For my company to be successful, I need shops in North America to be successful. I will continue to create content that sometimes my friends operating repair shops will not want to hear.

Distinguishing Between Wants and Needs

So, how does a body shop leader distinguish between what they want and what they need? It’s called root cause analysis. Without going into a lengthy explanation, root cause analysis is a deep dive to discover the real cause(s) of the problem(s). Start by putting limiting beliefs aside, removing ego from the table and seeking the few root causes generating most of the symptomatic problems and chaos.

You’ve Got This!

With 2021 right around the corner, I am very excited to help body shop owners discover their true potential, and trust me, there is a lot of it. I have never been more convinced that those who really embrace learning new skills and become as passionate about creating a great business as they are building a wrecked car can indeed dominate the competition this upcoming year.

My team and I are here to help… Perhaps not with what you want to learn, but with what you need to learn to crush it in 2021!

A great place to start is with Operations Monthly LIVE! Online, interactive management and operations training combined with tools, strategies, and support. This is real-world body shop training and application. Discover the high-performance training top body shops are using to crush it every day!


About the Author:

Dave Luehr
Dave shares his experience from over 30 years as a collision repair industry leader in leadership, lean and Theory of Constraints. Once the owner of a body shop himself, Dave draws on the realities of a real world collision repair shop in his consulting, writing and keynote speeches.

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