Body shops can be a great source of work for the PDR tech. Many of them will also refer you work that is too small to be profitable for them. There are a number of things to keep in mind though.
#1 Don't try this until you are sure of your quality. Body shops can be very picky customers. If you’re not sure you can deliver a quality product don’t even go after this market. If you're identified as a hack by a few bad jobs, word spreads quickly with body shops and you probably won’t get your foot in the door in any other shop in that area. Especially the high end ones.
#2 If you can do large dent repairs, You may not want to tell some body shops this. They may see you as competition and will not want to use you. Some body shops do want a PDR tech that can do larger dents, and if you're sure of this then no problem, but feel things out first.
#3 Do not argue with a manager /owner that doesn't want to use you. Many managers have been burnt by PDR guys in the past that cracked paint or have not shown up when called until a week later. If you run across a tough sale, tell the manager that you understand his frustration and that you are a professional. Give him your card and tell him "The next time your body man, painter, or lot person dents a customer's car after it's been painted, give me a call and I will remove it for free to show you what I can do". This turns the adversarial relationship into one of "I understand you're frustrated and I want to help you". This will work almost every time, and you should get a call within a month or two. Do it professionally and most of the time the manager will insist on paying you. Tell him (in front of his employees if you can) that the dent was free and to use the money to buy coffee and donuts for the crew tomorrow. You will make friends quick with most everyone at that shop.
#4 Also NEVER argue with a body man or painter that sees you as competition. Be a professional and they usually will come around eventually. Doing a dent for free when they screw up a car goes a long way in winning over a hostile body man or painter.
#5 Don't try and service body shops that are beyond a 30 minute drive from your home. Body shops are notorious for last minute calls no matter how much you remind them that you would like a 24 hour notice. There is nothing more frustrating than getting an emergency call from a shop far away when your already home for the day.
#6 If a customer approaches you at a body shop and asks you to give them an estimate on a dent, don’t do it. That customer belongs to the shop you are working for. Explain to the customer that you work for the shop and to ask the shop manager for an estimate.
#7 Don’t get involved in conversations about prices or any other business related conversations with an insurance adjuster at a body shop unless the manager asks you to and is there with you during the discussion. Many adjusters will play a vendor against a shop to get a price cut or some information out of you. The best bet is to tell the agent to ask the manager about anything that could even remotely be body shop business related.
#1 Keep in mind that many body shops may see you as competition initially. You must look at your service from his point of view. Explain that you can save him a lot of money on labor and materials, and help with his turn around times, (the time a vehicle is tied up in the shop) especially with complete paints. You can also help him sell jobs by taking care of those freebie dents that many customers want body shops to throw in to get the job. Hand him a brochure ( more on how to structure a body shop sales sales brochure next time } and quickly go over the contents with him point by point.
#2 Try and get there the same day they call. Most shops are really concerned about fast turn around times, and same day service is a deal maker for most. Sometimes this just isn't possible, but only doing body shops in an area close enough to you should help. If you don’t think you can’t get there the same day, don’t tell them you will try and then not show. Give the shop owner time to find someone else or make other arrangements.
#3 When your doing small dents that will be painted, never leave a dent low. If anything you can bring them up just a touch high because the prep person will be sanding the repair area any way, and will just knock off the minor highs. On repaints, flat is usually good enough to get you paid.
#4 Finish your work well for non complete paint vehicles. Put the board way back and cross check your work, because the shop manager knows how to check, and he will. Remember sharp tips will finish orange peel much faster than standard tips.
#5 Only do dents that you are sure you can get out well. It is always better to walk away from a dent than to try it and screw it up at a body shop. Unless of course the shop manager asks you to try it anyway, or just wants to make it look better.
#6 Be careful with drilling. Some body shops are OK with it, especially when it will make the repair cheaper. Others will throw you out fast if you're caught drilling. Just make sure you let them know first!
#7 Park your work vehicle out back where the shop customers won’t see it. This will prevent his customers from asking you for an estimate.
#8 Never use WD-40 or any other spray lube in, or around a body shop. These materials will cause all kinds of problems for the painters and will get you yelled at fast !
Next time we will be getting into the specifics of going after body shops.