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What Collision Repair Customers Really Want

“There is a huge opportunity right across the counter from you and many squander it,” says Dave Luehr

Right now, you have a tremendous opportunity to grow your body shop business organically. At the same time, there is a chance that you are not taking advantage of doing this.

We live in a time when the larger competition is so focused on shareholder profits that their attention is not on what is most valuable — customers.

Even among independent repairers, I am often unimpressed with the level of customer service I see. There is a huge opportunity right across the counter from you and many squander it.

Dave Luehr of Elite Body Shop Solutions

They may complain about direct repair programs (DRPs) and the cost of marketing their body shop, yet miss out on the opportunity in front of them to organically grow their business.

As some independent repairers attempt to wean themselves off DRPs and begin focusing on OEM certifications, they will primarily rely on their level of hospitality and customer experience as the primary differentiator from the competition.

Most collision repairers, myself included, started as technicians. Therefore, it’s natural for us to focus our energy on a product or service. In this case, it’s the repair work.

We are focused on what is a commodity in the customer’s mind. They assume their car will be fixed correctly no matter where they go. Therefore, your ability to repair vehicles correctly is critical.

However, there is a lot more to the conversation! Repairing a car is table stakes to get you in the game. What is going to help you win the game is how the customer feels after coming into your shop.

They are coming to your body shop, not to fix their car. They want you to fix their life and get it back to normal. Think about the energies you are putting toward that.

First, it’s essential to be clear on what it is you are actually selling. As my friend Tom Tracy in Lincoln, Nebraska, says: “What we are really selling is trust.”

How do you sell a customer on this? How do you get them to trust you? The answer is simple but not always easy to execute.

You deliver on your promises.

  • You provide a promised delivery date. Then deliver on time.
  • You ask customers how they want to be communicated with during the repair process. Then you communicate with them as promised (even if there is no good news).
  • You perform a proper vehicle check-in so that you fully understand what you are repairing and not repairing. In other words, you are working toward understanding the customer’s expectations. Then you deliver on those expectations.

These are a few ways that you can turn customers who are merely satisfied into fans of your shop that go out of their way to refer friends and family to your business.


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

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