8 MISTAKES I MADE WHEN I HAD MY BODY REPAIR BUSINESS
Updated: Mar 29
I was a pricing donkey.
I've lost count of the number of times I spent talking to potential customers, from WhatsApp conversations to Messenger conversations, Walk-ins, "on the way home can I just pop by and give an estimate" - you get the idea.
It didn't take long for me to realise I only have limited time and when trying to run a body repair business,
YOUR TIME IS YOUR MONEY.
Don't become a pricing donkey, create an estimate, send it to their email/SMS leave it with them and when you get time check in at a later date. Just politely explain, this is the price, I'll leave it with you and if you wish to book in please let me know.
I didn't take a booking deposit.
We've been doing this long enough now to just "get a feeling" that a customer is fishing for quotes and don't actually want to book in, but because us human don't like awkward conversions, some customers go the whole hog of booking in with you with the intention of not showing up.
Do yourself a favour now if you don't - take booking deposits, record it in the app and it will come off the final bill.
It's that simple.
I was "a busy fool" most of the time.
You get a random call one day, or someone turns up promising you the world of how many cars they need repairing.
Your eyes light up and you think: "This is my chance to earn some serious money, I need to prove to this guy I'll do a good job for a good price".
Listen, anyone can be a busy fool repairing lots of trade/dealer cars, but their bottom line still remains the same... why?
More paint & materials, more man-hours, more chance of problems/reworks through not spending enough time on the job.
Focus on pricing your jobs right, would you rather repair 5 decent RETAIL jobs per week or 10 trade/dealership jobs for the same price?
I was bad at paperwork.
There's nothing more embarrassing when the customer remembers your name but you can't remember theirs, or they come back a week or so after an estimate, want to book in but you can't remember the price you gave, so you have to ask them... not a good look is it?
Being a business owner is more than repairing the cars, taking the money and job done these days.
Customer expectations are increasing and we need to move with the times or get left behind. From follow up messages asking for a review to sending professional-looking quotes/invoices, appointment reminders, you name it.
Make your life easier by doing paperwork little but often with a good software system in place.
I didn't think about the future.
Working to live, or living to work?
Being in the Bodyshop/SMART repair business is tough, sometimes all it feels like is money in one hand and out the other.
Why is this? Could it be you're not pricing your jobs correctly or you're still charging what you was 5 years ago?
Paint and materials have increased but have your prices?
I used to have a weird way of pricing jobs which was based on nothing, no method, no use of financials, nothing but my brain whirling around.
Take a look at the support section of our website and see the "how do I set up my rates, paint and materials" section even if you don't use the app, it will help you.
You need to make sure your pricing reflects not only what you need to survive, but what you need to thrive. Your pension, business investments, unexpected bills, these are all things that need to be factored into your business, if you're not earning a good profit you're just funding an expensive hobby.
I made too many customers friends.
Everyone is your friend when it means knowing someone who can repair their car.
Which is fine... but there's a condition.
Don't get caught up in doing favours for people who will just disappear and then reappear only when they want something.
Set yourself a limit on the number of people you'll do favours for and STICK TO IT.
It has taken years and a lot of investment from you to hone your skills, don't lose your dignity by not charging for them.
Even if the job is just a little flat and polish - think of the value you're giving back to the customer, friend or not!
I didn't protect myself, or my business enough.
Unfortunately as a repairer, we bear the burden of managing customer expectations... It's not the customers' job to know how we are going to repair their car, but just that we are going to get it back to pre-accident condition, or if they are lucky, better than before.
You wouldn't expect a roofer to repair your roof, it leaks, and you say "you didn't repair my roof properly" and the roofer responds "well I only charged you £90".
To you, you thought you were paying the going rate.
If you don't manage customer expectations and they're thinking their bumper corner repair includes the WHOLE bumper (stone chips and all) for £175.00, then it's only on you for not telling them.
Avoid this, protect yourself, get it down on paper on what is/isn't being done so it's in black and white.
The app supports this in the line comments feature.
I didn't switch off.
In a world where customers can instantly reach out to brands on various platforms, call you, message you and have faster communication than ever before, it's hard to imagine not having your phone with you at all.
You don't want to reply late back to your potential customers which could lose you a job, you want to stay engaged on social media, your website, your Google page and the digital world.
But one thing I had to constantly remind myself was this is still ALL WORK. If you're on your phone at 7 am, go to work, and then back on your phone until 7 pm answer enquiries, posting on social media, that's a 12hour day! Divide your days' earnings by 12 and see what you're getting paid an hour after your outgoings, you may rethink the time you spend on your phone.
Make your life easier, set limits and automate what you can.
We've got some cool features coming to help with this.
What mistakes have you made? Can you relate to any of these?