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Posts Tagged ‘Heavy-duty collision repair’

2020 HD Repair Forum Opens Sponsorship Positions

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Plans for the third annual HD Repair Forum have been confirmed. The 2020 event is scheduled for March 24-25 at The Worthington Renaissance Fort Worth Hotel. Registration is now open and sponsorship opportunities are already being booked. Companies interested in having a presence at the HD Repair Forum are encouraged to book now as sponsorships are limited. More information can be found on the sponsorship page of the website.

“The HD Repair Forum brings together the stakeholders of the heavy-duty collision repair industry in an effort to provide attendees with a unique opportunity to discuss trends, address industry challenges, and evaluate key business strategies.” explains Brian Nessen, President of the HD Repair Forum. 

The 2019 event saw significant growth from its inaugural meeting. With the guidance of advisory board members and constituents, the HD Repair Forum is addressing the needs of the industry. A few highlights from the 2019 event include presentations from Daimler, Navistar, Peterbilt, Volvo, Heavy Duty Manufacturers Association (HDMA) and I-CAR. Session topics focused on a myriad of industry issues such as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), electric and hybrid vehicles, liquified and compressed natural gas vehicles, and a panel of insurance executives discussing claims handling and industry collaboration. 

Throughout the two days, there will be extensive networking opportunities allowing shop owners, insurers, appraisers, OEMs, paint manufacturers, information providers, and equipment and service companies to build relationships, conduct business, and solve problems.

Companies interested in sponsoring, getting more involved with this industry, or even hosting a co-located event can send inquiries to Brian Nessen BrianN@hdrepalrforum.com or Jennie Lenk JennieL@hdrepairforum.com 

Visit the website for more information or contact us at 281-819-2332.

Registration Opens for the 3rd Annual HD Repair Forum

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Registration for the HD Repair Forum is now open. Last year’s event experienced a forty percent increase in attendance and has quickly established itself as the can’t-miss event for the heavy-duty collision repair industry. 

The third annual conference is set to take place Tuesday and Wednesday, March 24th & 25th, 2020 in Fort Worth, Texas, at the Worthington Renaissance Hotel. The program will follow a similar format as last year’s event, spanning two days with presentations from OEMs, insurers, and other industry leaders during each morning’s general sessions. 

Attendees will gain valuable insight into industry trends allowing them to make better business decisions today and in the future. Afternoon break-out sessions will provide attendees an opportunity to choose classes that best address their individual or business needs. These sessions are geared towards executives, shop owners, managers, and company leaders. 

Throughout the two days, there will be extensive networking opportunities allowing shop owners, insurers, appraisers, OEMs, paint manufacturers, information providers and equipment and service companies to build relationships, conduct business, and solve problems.

To register for early bird rates and gain unique access to equipment suppliers, break-out sessions, and networking opportunities dedicated to the commercial vehicle collision repair industry, follow this link: https://www.eiseverywhere.com/hdrf2020

For additional information, please visit www.hdrepairforum.com or contact us at: www.hdrepairforum.com/contact-us

Sponsorship and advertising opportunities are now available. Reach out to Brian Nessen or Jennie Lenk.

About HD Repair Group

HD Repair Group offers a dedicated source of focused information for those involved in collision repair work for heavy-duty/commercial vehicles, primarily in classes 5, 6, 7, and 8. This community is where shop owners, executives, managers, technicians, estimators, and other industry stakeholders will find the latest news, tips, tactics, trends and best practices in the heavy-duty collision repair industry. The HD Repair Group offers numerous ways of delivering this information including an annual conference, a monthly e-newsletter, webinars, videos, and social channels for networking. 

Heavy-Duty Collision Repair Gaining Attention and Support

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Collision repair is a segment of the transportation industry that does not get a lot of attention. Historically, there has been a lack of training, information, and support. For many similar collision repair industries, including automotive, emergency, commercial, and recreational vehicles this has been the case. Why?

Collision repair is usually an afterthought. Energy and investment is placed on developing new vehicle technology. There is a never-ending race to make vehicles lighter, stronger, safer, and more fuel efficient. Recently the term ADAS was nothing more than some jumbled letters on a Scrabble game board. Today you can’t go to a trade show or read an article without being exposed to advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and electric vehicles. Another important trend in this industry; Autonomous vehicles.

While all of this technology is absolutely necessary and part of the evolution of the industry, at some point, these vehicles will need to be repaired. The industry has done a great job ensuring that technicians (mechanics) are prepared to service and maintain trucks. Keeping these vehicles on the road and operating is vital to our economy and to those that rely upon this industry to make a living. A truck sitting in a service bay is costing someone money.

Understanding that a vehicle out of service is lost revenue, more attention needs to be placed on the truck sitting in a collision repair facility awaiting parts. And what about the truck that has tens of thousands of dollars in collision damage awaiting repair from a technician that does not have any information on how to properly repair it?

As vehicles become equipped with more safety features, such as ADAS, or newer substrates that are lighter and stronger, information and training has never been more critical. In today’s collision repair facility, it’s a daily struggle to find and order parts and identify proper repair procedures. An independent collision shop could wait several days just to obtain parts prices. If you talk to insurance companies, they will tell you that the single biggest concern they have for their insureds is cycle time. Cycle time is defined as the number of days it takes for the vehicle owner to get his/her truck back on the road. For those that have had their vehicles in a collision shop, it would not be uncommon for a truck to be down for weeks. In some extreme examples it could be months.

As an industry, we need to work together to address these issues. We should be seeking solutions to reduce cycle time and put vehicles safely back on the road. We should continually be looking for solutions that ensure technicians have the knowledge and equipment needed to properly repair vehicles.    

In the spring of 2017, a dedicated source of focused information for the heavy-duty collision repair industry, the HD Repair Forum, was established to address these challenges. The HD Repair Forum’s purpose is to improve the narrative for repairers, insurers, OEM’s, paint manufacturers, parts suppliers, dealers and other industry stakeholders via a website, newsletter, conference, and other information tools.

The first HD Repair conference was held in April 2018 and featured technical and management training from some of the most well-respected companies and presenters in the industry. Executives from Navistar and Peterbilt discussed their new vehicle technology and the challenges repairers will face in the future. Co-located meetings, such as AkzoNobel’s 20 Group, were held during the same week and brought in some of the best repairers from the United States and Canada. The vendor expo gave high visibility to organizations committed to serving and improving the industry.

“Our goal is simple,” states Brian Nessen, President of the HD Repair Forum. “Provide the heavy-duty collision repair industry with an avenue for obtaining information and encourage collaboration. We want to facilitate safe, proper, and efficient repairs of all vehicles, and help the industry prepare for the future.”

The HD Repair Forum provides individuals and companies an opportunity to meet others, share experiences and best practices, and gain knowledge from manufacturers, trainers, and educators. The 2019 conference was held last April and experienced a 40% attendance increase, and brought in increased support and participation from several OEM’s including Daimler Trucks North America, Volvo, Navistar, and Peterbilt.

The 2020 conference returns to Fort Worth on March 24th & 25th. Companies like Axalta Coating Systems and AkzoNobel will also be co-hosting their spring Business Council and 20-Group meetings that same week.

To stay up to date on participation opportunities as an attendee, vendor, or consultant, sign-up to receive the organization’s monthly e-newsletter here

Customer Satisfaction Measurement – How to Use it in the Shop

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In our last installment, we asked- somewhat tongue-in-cheek- Does Customer Satisfaction Exist? The premise being, how do we define “customer” today when HD owners, fleet managers, OE’s and insurance companies can all be important influencers in the repair process? Undeterred, we pressed on with the “why’s” of measurement, including components of successful measurement (The Six C’s of CSAT Measurement).  You can reference the last installment here

This month, we are going to explore more specific uses for customer satisfaction measurement to demonstrate the value of such programs. Since there are a variety of uses, we will separate them into two main categories: Internal and External.

Internal uses are those that are more operational in nature, that owners and managers use to run their business and help their staff.  External uses are defined as those applications that are more sales and marketing oriented, or those that involve communication or contact with those outside the organization.

Internal Uses

      1. As an Essential Part of Core Strategy, Management Philosophy

Buy-in from the top owners, executives, and managers is crucial to the success of your Customer Satisfaction Program. The Program should transcend reports, numbers, and information so that it is an underlying philosophy of business operations. In that way, it becomes integrated into your entire system of managing the company. 

It serves us well to recall that we use the term “customer” with the understanding that in the HD repair environment, there are many people and organizations that impact successful service delivery- not only vehicle owners, but also fleet managers, insurance companies, and others. As such, we construct our program with all those people and organizations in mind.

Most companies have a Strategic Plan that guides the direction of the organization. Some common components of a Strategic Plan may include a mission statement, budgets, sales, marketing and operational plans; IT and HR plans, and the like. Best practice would dictate consistent meetings to review the Plan, confirm you are on course, and make adjustments as necessary. The Customer Satisfaction Program should be part of the Strategic Plan.  Inclusion in the Strategic Plan sets the foundation for integration into company culture.

Some of the following initiatives and ideas will demonstrate to your staff why you included the Customer Satisfaction Program in the Strategic Plan. 

2. As an Integral Part of Compensation Plans

Your Customer Satisfaction Program should measure performance by employee. This information can be incorporated into compensation or incentive plans. The example below shows a report Estimator. Other staff can be rated on overall satisfaction scores or other metrics provided by the program. 

Usually, plans are devised to operate on a month-over-month basis. This is a great way to keep the Customer Satisfaction Program at the forefront of the minds of the employees.

 A word of caution: as with any program that impacts compensation, keep an eye out for attempts to inappropriately influence outcomes and results. 

3. A Way to Help Attract and Retain Talent

One of the biggest challenges for owners and managers in today’s environment is attracting and retaining good employees. Demonstrating a commitment to customer satisfaction also demonstrates a commitment to employee satisfaction as the two are closely related (more on this in a future installment). Compensation programs can be mentioned in the interview process and, once an offer is tendered, be an important part of the on-boarding process. It can also be included in the Employee Handbook. 

      4. As a Conduit for Cross Functional Management

Sometimes, strategic initiatives remain in company silos. For example, maybe the owner or President does the financials. The IT Manager updates the management systems. The Marketing Manager deals with the web site. Technicians and administrative employees focus on daily tasks. Depending on the size of the company, collaboration can be difficult as the day-to-day tasks need to be completed. The Customer Satisfaction Program however, is a reason to bring all functions together as it impacts all functions. 

Consistent meetings should be held to review results- as, ultimately, all silos and functions depend on the customer for the company to succeed. In the meetings, accolades can be bestowed on employees’ positive results, and challenges can be discussed too. Best practices can be shared, while go-forward initiatives and goals can be established. 

      5. Operational Measurements for ROI

Your Customer Satisfaction Program should provide opportunity to monetize some of your results, which may be of particular interest to owners and managers. For example, surveys often include some type of a “return” question, such as: 

After your repair was completed, was it necessary for you to return to the shop for additional work? 

Results could be displayed in a graphic like the one below:

The donut graph demonstrates that over the past 90 repairs, about 82% of them have not returned for supplemental work, but that about 18% of them (or 16) have. “Comebacks,” as they are often called, throw a wrench into the efficient workings of a repair facility, since there are administrative, scheduling, operational, and workflow interruptions that often accompany a comeback. Therefore, there is a cost associated with every comeback.

The average cost will vary with the type of work the HD repair facility does, but based on previous studies done by TenPoint Complete, it is estimated to be at least $400 per unit and could be much higher. The first step to reducing your comeback rate, is to actually track your comeback rate. 

You can then dig into root causes (potentially in the aforementioned cross-functional meetings) and set about lowering your comeback rate. This provides real ROI- but it also provides a platform for collaboration, and when improvements are implemented successfully, improves employee morale. 

Comebacks affect the overall efficiency of shop operations in the form of workflow and scheduling updates. There is an administrative expense that impacts everyone from the front office to the technicians. Potentially, parts need to be ordered and/or returned. The actual labor put into the return make be the greatest expense if gratis or at a reduced rate. And, everything hour you incur on a less profitable or non-profitable job takes that same hour away from a more profitable one. 

Instead of an expense, shop owners and managers should look at Customer Satisfaction Program data as information that can help improve financial results. 

External Uses 

      1. Marketing and Advertising 

Without even looking it up, I know that GEICO has a 97.1 customer satisfaction rating, because they have made it a priority to incorporate that number into their messaging. Few companies have the advertising spend of GEICO, but there are still plenty of opportunities available to communicate your commitment to customer satisfaction.

Positive customer satisfaction results should be incorporated into your marketing strategy. This can include your website, advertising (print, radio, billboards, etc.) in your customer waiting area, press releases, most public relations activities, hiring events, and other customer facing activities. 

You may be able to incorporate a message in communications with customers, current and former, as well as prospects. Examples may be e-mail campaigns, direct mail, newsletters- whatever your methodology. 

Consider incorporating the premise of customer satisfaction into your brand promise- which could include your tagline or slogan, that is used on company documentation from RO sheets to business cards.

      2. Insurance Companies and OE’s

Insurance companies play an important role in many HD repair and are very much concerned with policyholder loyalty. They understand that it costs them a lot more money to recruit new customers than it does to keep current policyholders. The amount of churn they have, or policyholder turnover, is meticulously tracked.

Insurance companies in the automotive repair space have put CSI programs in place, often in conjunction with their Direct Repair Programs (DRP’s). In the HD space, we are beginning to see the emergence of some managed programs that have some similarities to DRP’s. 

HD shops can solidify and expand their relationships with their insurance partners by being proactive with regards to a Customer Satisfaction Program. They can also use the information the program generates to attract additional work from insurance companies. 

OE’s can be another important source of referral business. Make it a point to have a professional presentation on hand for conversations with your OE and insurance business partners. It could be a hard copy binder, a PowerPoint, or a PDF for e-mail. Make your Customer Satisfaction Program an important component of this marketing piece. Other components would be items such as your mission/vision statement, facility capabilities and equipment, certifications, recognition and awards, community involvement, etc. 

      3. Service Recovery

Service Recovery is one of the most important components of your Customer Satisfaction Program. How many times have you gone to the trouble to reply to a survey or give feedback on an experience only to be ignored? It is vital that you recognize and respond to low scores and negative feedback in a constructive manner that turns a negative into a positive, or at least neutralizes the negative!

There are entire courses designed around service recovery (too much to get into here), but whether in person, over the phone, via-e-mail or social media, make sure only skilled employees are dealing in service recovery. Use surveys as a way to determine the satisfaction level of customers, and then follow up accordingly. 

On a 0-10 scale, we can generally divide responders into three categories: Promoters, Passives, and Detractors. Promoters are rating you a 9 or 10, and are your biggest fans. Passives are rating you a 7 or 8 and are just lukewarm about your service. Detractors are rating you between 0-6 and likely have some serious issues with your company. A basic goal is to move the Detractors up into the Passive category so they are not actively involved in harming your brand, and to move the Passives up to Promoters, so they are actively involved in positive word of mouth, or social media advertising. 

      4, Performance Groups and Best Practices

Many shops are involved with performance groups that promote best practices between non-competing repair facilities. Sharing customer satisfaction results with peers is a great way to build on victories and learn how others have successfully navigated dealing with the most complex and angry customers and situations. 

Performance Groups often have veteran and skilled leaders that have vast experience throughout the country. Often, paint company, insurance company, OE or other executives are invited to speak and share their experiences. This is often an excellent way to discover solutions to specific problems, relative to customer challenges and issues: from peers and industry experts. 

Next Steps

Previously, customer satisfaction has sometimes been difficult to quantify. The “I know my customers” strategy that has proven at least partially effective in the past, will not be considered as appropriate or sufficient moving forward. While personal relationships remain the foundation for many if not most business activities, measurements, data and information are becoming increasingly important to assist in the development and sustainability of those relationships. 

What we have presented here are some use cases for using a Customer Satisfaction Program both internally and externally, that can prove valuable to shop owners and all their “customers”: employees, HD owners, fleets managers, insurance companies, OE’s and strategic partners. 

TenPoint Complete has been helping clients design and measure their customer journey for over 20 years. John Webb is a company Partner and a Net Promoter Score (NPS) Certified Associate. He can be reached at jwebb@tenpointcomplete.com 

 

Examining Infrared Drying Solutions For Your Prep Area

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When examining solutions to increase production in the paint shop, all the emphasis is placed on the paint booth. The paint booth is the most noticeable piece of equipment in the shop, the most expensive, and the one that can make or break production. The right paint booth solution and paint shop layout can increase your throughput and keep your productivity goals on track. But there is still another area where productivity gains are easily found, and that is in the prep area.

No matter what your shop layout is, you have to have some area to prime and prep cars for paint. Some shops have several of these grouped among the paint booth. Since 99% of your repairs are only going to involve a few panels, your prep deck is the area where you spot prime and sand panels before final paint. 

In a pinch, you may even paint a panel in the prep area during high volume periods. Even in a pinch, you may also paint the occasional panel during high volume periods. Your prep deck allows you to push more work through the shop, by acting like the paint booth’s helper. What if there was a way to turn one prep deck into two perhaps even three or more prep decks without adding any additional filters, fans, ductwork, curtains or square footage? Well, the good news is that you can with a catalytic drying robot for your prep deck.

You are probably familiar with infrared drying in a prep deck. Shops have been using infrared drying lights for some years now, but they have been slow to catch on. This situation is because they are bulky, heavy, and get dirty pretty quickly reducing their utility. Electric IR dryers are also very analog. They require a lot of user experience do dial in the temperatures and make sure you are not melting bumpers or boiling paint. For as sophisticated as Infrared drying can be in a shop, the electric IR dryers are nothing more than glorified toasters.

Learning From The Europeans

In Europe, cars get repaired differently. Everything in Europe is about maximizing space. Streets are narrower, and vehicles are smaller and so are the body shops. As a result of this, European body shops have had to figure out how to move more vehicles through small shops using innovative technologies such as infrared drying.

The Italians have developed an infrared drying system that operates on LP or natural gas and is rail mounted, and robotic. This factor eliminates the need to drag around bulky electric IR arrays, move 220 Amp cords around, and keep the reflectors and bulbs clear of overspray.

How Gas Catalytic Dryers Help

While you don’t need an Infrared dryer to cure paint, catalytic dryers cure materials like primers in minutes. Gas catalytic dryers come mounted on a rail system, and one unit can service multiple bays. When you can cut dry times by half or more, you can get more vehicles through prep and into the paint booth. Gas catalytic dryers also eliminate the user error of electric IR dryers because the gas systems use temperature sensors to set and maintain surface temps. They can also switch panels on and off to achieve the desired results automatically. As shops seek new ways to squeeze more productivity out of an existing footprint, Gas Catalytic drying has proven time after time to cut production times without sacrificing quality.

 

For more information, please contact Gascat

Customer Satisfaction Measurements Should Be a Priority

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Does customer satisfaction exist? No. Not in the HD repair industry, anyway.

There are too many players, too many constituents, too many people that are not “customers” that influence the process and the outcome of an HD repair. We are not selling T-shirts online. Some days, we probably wish we were. This is a more complex business. There are nuances to be considered in every unique repair.

Still, we have an innate desire to do the right thing. To provide great service to the HD owners, fleet managers, insurance company representatives, TPA’s and OE’s; to work efficiently with paint companies, parts providers, and multiple other vendors.

To help keep ourselves on track and ensure we are doing things the right way, we rely heavily on measurements. We have financials that include P&L’s, balance sheets, income statements and breakouts of business units that tell us how much money is in the bank. We measure cycle time, and parts, and paint usage. We track how many hours our employees work and how much money we are spending on marketing as a percentage of sales. Measurements are everywhere.

But for many of us, measurements of customer satisfaction- commonly called CSAT- remain an afterthought. But-there are those words again– customer satisfaction. Although it is probably not an adequate descriptor, I may have to revert to using it in a very generic and holistic sense, since there is no word (that I can think of) that more accurately describes everyone and all the organizations that influence a repair in the HD industry.

The comparison of financial statements and customer satisfaction is an interesting exercise. And, if not an actual exercise, (likely due to inadequate CSAT data points), at least an interesting philosophical discussion. Where does CAST show up on the balance sheet? Well, it doesn’t. Assuming you are making money (let’s hope so!) how can you therefore determine if the numbers in financials represent good profit or bad profit? Is there such a thing as bad profit? Yes- but let’s just say not-so-good profit. What is not-so-good profit (NSGP)?

  • NSGP values policy over relationships, making it more likely that costs will be driven up in the future due to short-term gains in the present
  • NSGP allows customers to remain unsatisfied, causing future brand deterioration by negative word of mouth
  • NSGP allows customers to remain unsatisfied, driving up future service costs that you may not be able to get compensated for
  • NSGP measures cycle time, but not comeback percentage
  • NSGP gums up the works by tying up your resources with complaints or re-work, that as an additional side effect is also quite de-motivating, if prevalent enough

Interestingly, without customers, there would be no need for financial statements, paint, parts, or much of anything else for that matter. Yet, some owners and managers relay on the old “I know my customers”, “I know everything that is going on in my business” mantra. There are two major reason why, even if partially true, it is best practice to systematically verify your beliefs.

First, customers won’t tell you everything they will tell a computer screen or a live agent with whom they have no history or personal investment. And, with your best source of future work being a recommendation, it is vital to harvest this feedback. Even customers that are completely satisfied can provide valuable information for future operational improvements and future products and services.

In a study of thousands of customer satisfaction surveys, TenPoint Complete found that even those customers that rated the overall experience a 9 or a 10 on a ten-point scale, approximately 25% of them had some aspect of the experience they thought could have been improved.

That brings up a second point, which is that expectation levels are constantly changing. You are not only compared to your peers in the industry, but to other service providers, some of which are doing a very good job. Many, however, are still not exceeding expectations, or creating raving fans. This is actually good news, as you have the opportunity to step-up and position yourself in the mind of the customer (insurance company, fleet manager, OE, TPA etc.) as an exceptional provider.

A recent personal example of a service failure occurred when I ordered checks from my bank (yes, still need the paper kind on occasion). Long story short, it took over three weeks and several frustrating phone calls to accomplish this task. My feedback was straightforward: Providing check re-orders should be a core service competency. The expectation level today is not two or three weeks on a request of this nature- it is two or three days.

There are certainly many additional advantages to CSAT measurement. If this has at least provided some food for thought, I’ll wrap up with some best practices or characteristics of CSAT measurement.

The Six C’s of CSAT Measurement

Commitment From the top. The owners, executives, and managers that sponsor or initiate the programs must be fully invested in their implementation, or it will be very difficult to achieve the goals.

Customer Focused Strategy Sounds obvious, but the measurements need to create action. For example, customers need to be followed up with upon receipt of negative feedback. How many times have you given negative feedback and not been acknowledged? Not good!

Consistent Many companies produce an annual CSAT measurement. While this is better than nothing, it leaves a lot on the table, like the opportunity to impact corporate culture and the ability to use results as part of an overall management tool and philosophy.

Complex Not! Complex measurements and formulas are interesting to statisticians and people who work in the industry, but not many others! Survey questions, reports, and other tools should be straightforward, intuitive, and easily understood.

Comprehensive From a methodology standpoint, you may want to consider a company that utilizes omni-channel communication. For example, the ability to survey via SMS (text), E-mail, and live agent. Also, having the option of an invitation to social media may be of interest.

Credible Measurements need to be credible to influence your important stakeholders and constituents. Producing the measurements yourself or relying on a company that does not have a core focus in CSAT measurement may dilute your efforts.

In future installments, we will explore more specific uses for the measurements in the HD environment and some of the most widely used tools for this type of strategic initiative.

The Demystification of M&A – Part 4.a. SOPs in M&A

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In our previous articles, we broke down the numerous motivations from both a buyer’s and a seller’s perspective morn considering a merger or acquisition (“M&A”). Now it’s time to look at the M&A process.

There are exceptions to every rule, except the rule that there’s always exceptions to rules…

No two collision repairs are identical. Similarly, no two M&A deals are exactly alike. In the more than 100 closed deals that I have participated in (and the few hundred more that didn’t close), there was always a wrinkle, an exception. However, also like collision repair, there are certain steps that typically are followed in every deal – some SOPs. Here’s a breakdown of the major steps in the M&A process, and for those who have had an unpleasant marriage experience, please pardon the analogy:

Beautifying: Just like blueprinting a collision repair job, proper planning is critical to maximizing the outcome of a deal. For a buyer, this includes securing financing, ensuring the existing company is stable enough to function effectively, without the owner for an extended period of time, lining up key vendors, deputizing a deal team, etc. For a seller, the process begins months to even years earlier and is focused on areas such as having clean financials, tightening up operations so that the shop is meeting or exceeding widely-followed KPIs, shoring up key referral sources, vendors, and employees, and performing any deferred maintenance. Savvy sellers also assemble a dream team of advisors (i.e., a tax expert, transaction attorney, and a banker/broker if the deal is sufficiently large), and they perform the same due diligence on themselves that a buyer eventually would do. If there’s a skeleton in the closet, it’s far better for the seller to find it than a buyer.

Courting: Finding a deal means very different things to a buyer and a seller. Buyers tend to prefer exclusive deals, those deals that no other buyer is involved (a.k.a., “non-auction deal flow”). This requires a proactive, disciplined system of regularly contacting potential targets, along with playing an active role in the industry by attending events, like the HD Repair Forum. As for sellers, the process of identifying a potential buyer is very different. Oftentimes, this is left to the seller’s banker/broker; DIY sellers typically reach out to people they know, including peers and competitors. The critical take-way at this stage is to preserve confidentiality. Once the word is out that a shop is for sale, referral sources get concerned and key employees (i.e., those most desirable by your competitors) get mobile.

Dating: Once a few potential suitors have been identified, it’s time to spend some time together. Shrewd buyers will ask for as much data as possible about the seller’s referral sources, financials, customers, employees, and facilities & equipment. Shrewd sellers will already have this package prepared and formatted to tell a story that makes the business look most attractive to potential buyers. This may require different versions if there are multiple types of buyers. Typically, a walkthrough also occurs at this stage so the buyer can assess capacity and necessary capital expenditures to integrate it into its existing operations (Note to sellers: conduct the walkthrough at night!). The buyer’s goal at this stage is to complete a valuation of the business and identify the key deal terms.

Our next article will focus on the latter stages of completing a deal. Stay tuned!

Comments / questions / criticisms? Are you contemplating a deal that might fit into one of these categories and you want to ensure you’re making a sound decision? Feel free to e-mail me: john.walcher@veritasadvisorsinc.com – I’m happy to explore the circumstances with you. Our next article will explore the anatomy of a deal. Until then, happy dealing!

Heavy-Duty Truck Repair Provides Limitless Opportunities to Rural Business

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In 2002, Chris Lindstrom started Practical Applications, a specialty manure handling and spreading business in Durand, Wisconsin. He managed a fleet of semis and truck-mounted spreaders designed to handle any size field at any distance from the client’s farm.

Two years later, he expanded his services, acquired another facility and started Maxville Truck and Repair. Maxville now offers custom truck builds and truck alterations, silage, grain and TMR trucks, and new truck sales.

His niche was noticed from hundreds of miles away. The business grew rapidly via word of mouth and reached areas such as Iowa, Tennessee, Kentucky and even Australia. Through the growth, Lindstrom recognized a need for heavy-duty truck repair.

After 10 years of coordinating with outside painters and sandblasters, Lindstrom was ready to expedite the process and bring painting services in-house. He reached out to local paint booth manufacturer, Global Finishing Solutions (GFS).

“I didn’t do any shopping around,” Lindstrom said. “GFS was down the road, and I knew they produced quality paint booths. I even trucked the paint booth over myself. It took two trips, but it was worth it.”

In June 2014, Maxville Truck and Repair started up their new 18-by-16-by-50-foot drive-thru crossdraft Heavy-Duty Truck Paint Booth for the first time. Since then, Lindstrom has stuck to the same paint scheme for his fleet of trucks — Massey Ferguson Red, black and a silver/gray metallic.

“With our truck paint booth, we produce consistent, clean and quality work,” Lindstrom mentioned. “It has improved our image 100 percent.”

In a dirty business like manure, it is going above and beyond that makes Maxville stand out — as a supplier and an employer.

“The paint booth isn’t for me, it’s for my people,” Lindstrom added. “My drivers take pride in what they’re doing. They look professional and they put out better work. I also didn’t want my people spraying in an unsafe and dirty environment.”

Lindstrom is a jack of many trades. He builds and paints hose reels, fabricates bumpers, and paints custom trucks and trailers. With sandblasting and painting services in-house, there is not much they cannot do.

“I don’t buy anything new,” Lindstrom said. “We have the ability to put anything together. We can fix it up and make anything look good.”

Since the addition of their truck paint booth, Lindstrom has also noticed he is able to rapidly turn trucks over.

“Our truck paint booth has definitely shortened the time it takes to get trucks done,” Lindstrom explained. “It has improved how I look with my fleet. It’s pretty cool that I can make my stuff look awesome.”

Heavy-Duty Truck Repair Pays Off

Businesses that perform heavy-duty truck repairs are hard to come by, especially in rural areas. When an oversized vehicle is in an accident, the nearest shop with a paint booth large enough to accommodate it is sometimes hundreds of miles away.

Although Maxville is not positioned directly off an interstate, Lindstrom saw the potential in adding a truck paint booth. Without a single competitor within two hours, he is able to assist his customers in repairing large vehicles. Depicted below is a $10,000 to $12,000 truck job, which can be a week’s worth of work for the company.

The purchase of a heavy-duty truck paint booth is a game-changer for most shops. Not only does it increase the physical paint booth footprint, it can also boost their bottom line. Maxville Truck and Repair is a prime example, as they can accommodate practically anything that is oversized.

HD Repair Forum Secures Plans for 2020 Event

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Plans for the third annual HD Repair Forum have been confirmed. The 2020 event is scheduled for March 24-25 at The Worthington Renaissance Fort Worth Hotel. Registration will open in the fall of 2019. To keep up to date with the HD Repair Forum’s agenda, speakers, and current news in the commercial vehicle collision repair industry, sign up for the monthly HD Repair Forum newsletter.

“The HD Repair Forum brings together all stakeholders from the heavy-duty collision repair industry. The event provides attendees an opportunity to discuss trends, address industry challenges, and evaluate key business strategies.” explains Jennie Lenk, Communications Manager for the HD Repair Forum.

The 2019 event saw significant growth from its inaugural meeting, proving the HD Repair Forum, with the guidance of its advisory board members, is addressing the needs of the industry.

A few of the highlights from the 2019 event included presentations from Daimler, Navistar, Peterbilt, Volvo, Heavy Duty Manufacturers Association (HDMA) and I-CAR. Session topics focused on a myriad of industry issues such as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), electric and hybrid vehicles, liquified and compressed natural gas vehicles, and a panel of insurance executives discussing claims handling and industry collaboration.

“Attendees also witnessed a historic announcement and well earned recognition, as I-CAR acknowledged Penske Truck Collision of Norcross, Georgia, as the first-ever commercial vehicle collision repair facility with an I-CAR Gold Class certification,” states Lenk.

In addition to presentations, attendees gathered valuable knowledge for business sustainability and growth in a series of breakout sessions designed around process improvement and profitability.

Companies interested in participating can do so through sponsorship and advertising opportunities that are now available. Call 281-819-2332 or visit the website for more information.

Interested in getting more involved, or even hosting a co-located event? Send your inquiries to Brian Nessen BrianN@hdrepalrforum.com or Jennie Lenk JennieL@hdrepairforum.com

Training or Development – What do we really need? Are you ready for some in-depth analysis

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Heavy Duty shop owners from coast to coast talk about training required for their shop. Consider the terminology “training”. This terminology creates a certain mind-set in terms of results desired with the approach to the topic from the person speaking the words. Perhaps it is time to re-examine what words need to be embraced to get our mind-set focused properly to allow us to really move the shop forward considering all of today’s realities.

I would like to submit for your consideration the following definitions:

TRAINING: Limiting the behavioral responses to a given stimulus.

DEVELOPMENT: To increase behavioral alternatives to the same stimulus.

It has often been thought that “technical training” was always required for a HD shop in order to learn which “right way” is required to do it. This worked very well in the “mechanical” world years ago. I am submitting to you that it is not technical “training” that is required today but in fact today it is technical “development” that is required. The on-going development of building a technician’s diagnostic skill level and knowledge does not lead to a “right way” to do something, but in fact it leads to providing many alternatives to explore an approach, in order to discover the correct solution to the problem. The proper “development” and building of this knowledge, in the end, allows the technician to provide time effective solutions, which in turn, ends up serving the HD shop’s client in a very professional manner. Without the proper “development” of this technical knowledge, which must be recognized as continuous and on-going, and instead where management is only focusing on limited “training”, ends up producing results where the technician “fumbles around” for a number of hours without the proper solution. Consider “training” is specific, whereas “development” is all encompassing. Think about it…. no Heavy Duty shop can afford a training process today, they require a development process.

It is also well spoken in our industry that management requires business training. I submit that “Business Seminar Training” today, in fact, only relates to one facet of the business, such as a product knowledge session. Consider that other “Business Seminar Training” produces “hype” to create short-term immediate sales, or activity, for the sponsor of the “training,” as it creates the conditions for the attendees to become very motivated. Consider that “hype-type” motivation is now out-of-date in terms of addressing the real problems of our industry and is truly a waste of money in terms of a vision or culture for a HD shop. This type of “hype-training” always has a habit of disappearing within two to three weeks, if not sooner. The statement must be made that “hype-training” lacks the “test of time”.

I submit to you that we do not need a “fire under the bum” type motivational training, which is an exterior motivation format that gets an individual “pumped” that quite frankly worked 10 to 20 years ago in the much simpler commodity era of our industry. Today’s shop business realities are very in-depth knowledge based, focused, very complex, and all encompassing. This is why “fire under the bum” type training disappears too easily. It has no substance.

Consider today, we need a “fire in the belly”. This is different. It creates the results environment of learning business knowledge at a depth level effectively enough that it creates a gnawing at ones inside gut, which in turn, creates the personal determination, a personal self-motivation if you will, to get on with it and get it done. It is also time consuming and not an “over-night visit”. The atmosphere and attitude approach required to create this gnawing is called “Business Development”, not “Business Training”. Development provides the tools in the form of a proven business concept for the owner to embrace coupled with the on-going availability of business knowledge to support its depth. The most important key word here is… support…. which in turn allows for sustaining behavioral development.

Behavioral development is very personal, in that it is totally adaptable to the individual’s own personality. Development is exceptionally in-depth in its presentation and especially its content message. It creates a picture in one’s mind as to what can be. Business Development does not “limit behavioral responses” but it, in turn, “increases behavioral responses” due to its depth of perspective. It has many angles to be examined by the individual in its understanding which allows for the development to be achieved. Business development understanding is not just spending a few hours at night or attending a one-day stand, but, in fact, encompasses many days in order to understand its focus.

Don’t be surprised if you have to read the above few paragraphs two or three times as it is important to understand the differences between “training” and “development”. I spent a lot of time trying to create the sentences I have written here to try to get across my point. The explanations truly are in-depth but I must admit, difficult to explain in this article format. My hope is that you begin to recognize that this is not a simple topic.