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|PDR – Managing your customer base|
|Manging the Client Base – Insurance companies|
|Managing the client base – Other partners|
Managing the client base – Other partners
The main possibilities of getting work seem to be insurance companies. However, large volumes of work also can be acquired through the car sales yards, auctions, fleets, hospitals, and councils. This requires years of understanding the industry as a separate entity and once again forming bonds. Sometimes though, insurance companies also have influence in who may repair these.
The largest of these are the car yards. Car yards are unique in that they have large volumes of cars in the open. And they are ONE customer to deal with – both with quotations and invoicing as well as dealing with one manager. When hailstorms hit, cars are often damaged on a massive scale. Furthermore, car yards are also often located near others who also may be affected by the same hailstorms. Unfortunately, dealing with car yards is a little more complex than this because of the salesman mentality, meeting with them or their managers is not always appealing. They suddenly become experts in hail repair and they can be arrogant in the way they deal with you. They are also cunning given their sales experience. You have to somehow overcome these obstacles in order to sell your services. There are no real answers to winning or losing contracts and even if given the approval to quote the whole car yard, this does not guarantee the contract! You may be one of many PDR technicians that will pass across a business card. What would be an advantage is understanding how car sale yards operate and who are the most important people in the job.
In car yards, owners often own several car yards in various states and in some cases several car yards in one stretch of car yards with different makes e.g. toyota, suzuki, etc. Furthermore, never deal with anyone lower than the manager. It is also important once the job is sealed to deal with the “free delivery manager”. These are the team that assembles new cars straight from the factory – placing bumper bars etc. These are the managers that liaise with sales yard managers once a car is sold to a consumer. When hailstorms hit, hundreds of cars are damaged. Some of the damaged cars may have been already sold. Hail sales are often supported by insurance companies who also a specified amount for the vehicles. Car sale yards are insured for an amount but they have a total cap on the amount of excesses paid for that particular yard. So if for instance, they have 100 cars, their insurance may have an excess of $500 per car with a maximum of 40 cars – a total excess of $20000 even if all cars were damaged. Car sales yards work the figures in such a way by exchanging hail damaged cars with other car yards sometimes interstate once they have received their payments. This helps reduce the amount of cars that require to be repaired! Those car yards involved in the exchange may have their own PDR technicians. Cars that were already sold to customers may be offered a discount or the car yard may ask you to repair the cars before being rolled out to the customer. At this point, no laws require the car sales yards to inform the customer if the car was repaired once it is repaired in their own premises. As you can see, in the heat of first few days, a lot of things are happening on top of other pdr technicians and hail repairing companies offering their services.
Furthermore, you are often overcoming trying to sell your service to car yards who already have regular PDR Technicians servicing their yards. The pricing is usually a smaller amount per car eg $500 per car regardless of the damage.
Some possible thoughts on approaches with car yards:
- – be at the chosen premises as soon as possible
- – have all your figures or range of pricing in place prior to getting into the meeting
- – be dressed appropriately preferably in a smart casual ware or even a suit – selling your deal in shorts will sell yourself short!
- – be clear whether the premises has insurance or not or do they have a system in place to counter the risks of hailstorms in their area ( not all car yards have insurance!)
- – quote an average pricing by considering 10 or so vehicles randomly
- – try convincing them that repairing their vehicles through insurance if it is feasible considering excesses
- – try to ascertain whether there is a PDR technician, what they charge and how you can overcome that obstacle usually with speed of repairs, quality and thence saleability of their vehicles
- – have evidence of quality and the systems in place of how your repair will preserve the new condition of their vehicles – perhaps a demonstration of PDR repair is good idea if they have never seen the process
- – don’t waste your time if it seems they are definitely not interested – there are other car yards that could be dealt with
- – build a rapport with the car yard management – popping in and saying good-day once a week can make them bite – they may just have a job for you one day
- – if you are a team of PDR managers of PDR technicians with experience in dealing with sales yard managers, have all members of the team working the various car yards simultaneously
- – have a meeting every couple of hours as a report back to compare notes
- – car yards often have hail sales and this does not always mean bad news as you can be asked to repair sold cars if you have done a deal with them
- – it is important to note that unless a contract is signed immediately, your quotations may be used for their own purposes. Feel free to charge a nominal figure to quote the whole car yard on a per car basis or at least withhold the individual quotations
- – if the damage is too severe on the whole, do not strike deals and probably let it go – there has to be a an estimate break even point or an aim as to why you would repair – you could be better off chasing work elsewhere
- – establish where the work will be carried out – usually on their premises – otherwise, you have to factor in the risk of getting a premises yourself prior to winning the contract
- – remember this is a business deal and understanding business talk and business type of communication is important. Often it is a good idea to answer their questions with a question of your own that you know the answer to given you are the expert in hail dent repair – not them!
- – if you are not confident in business negotiations, it is a good idea to have someone in your team that is, they may have the charm, arrogance and no fear of dealing with figures.
There are new emerging laws in each state in response to car yards. There are hints of moves from insurance companies that car sales yards are going to be forced to repair vehicles. Until 2012, car sales yard had the option of putting in the quotes and getting paid. When the damage was very slight and hardly noticeable, very few if any vehicles are repaired.
It is a tough industry but this is the nature of the risk involved in PDR – you win some and lose others. When you win that first major contract, it may be a sign of things to come and the financial rewards can be worth the wait. Car yard managers and owners move around and talk! Management with one client/customer is less stressful than coping with the uncertainties and changing customers in the public. It also provides entry into the industry.
Fleets, Auctions and Other Bulk Repair Opportunities
The handling of these are basically similar and require individualised approaches and meetings. The larger companies such as Hertz and Avis may have their own preferred national, state or regional repairers. Perhaps proposals to these during the off season may assist – during the hailstorm it would be difficult to put one together and given the chaotic situation in the post hailstorm period is not recommended. This is true from your company’s own perspective and from their’s. You are under pressure to gather work and there may be better work further down even as little as half a kilometre away.
Occasionally, there may be situations that arise where one company may approach another to agree on pricing, or perhaps to work mutually with each other. In such a competitive industry, such mutual agreements should be approached with caution. There may be an ulterior motive behind the approach by a company and often asking around other companies or contacts or even insurance companies for further information may reveal the truth behind the approach or whether it is even possible. If the mutual agreement goes ahead, both parties need to reveal suffice not information and define some form of contract before proceeding.
An example of one type of mutual agreement is to work sharing vehicles in the same sales yard. Working closely in conjunction with the management of the car yard is important in this case so that clear guidelines are discussed as to fairness in the allocation of vehicles, agreed pricing, quality and so forth.
Another situation that often arises during hailstorms is when a major hailstorm requires more than one preferred company to quote and repair thousands of vehicles. Quoting bays are prepared to allow a fair allocation of vehicles to the repairers. Under scrutiny though is the average repair pricing of the vehicles being quoted.
Remember that when you repair vehicles to invoice your clients or customers unless you are paid immediately e.g. private jobs. Consider the typical situation – you are mobile, have vehicles to repair, some are booked, quick one or two dent are also thrown in before you can repair the next and you have to go to another client pr two later that afternoon. If you do not keep a record or an invoiced copy of the job, you may not remember it. If you do have an invoice and forget about the job because you are extremely busy for a week, you can check on invoices at a later date and chase up the invoices. It is good idea to indicate the status as paid once the payment comes through. Software packages with automated systems for invoicing and financial packages used for banking are an excellent system to provide reminders or a generated report can indicate unpaid invoices. Nevertheless, at least at a minimum, an invoice book will assist and a system in place e.g. book marks, folded pages or post it notes to indicate unpaid invoices is required to keep things in check.