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Taking Stock: Balancing business and empathy post-collision

Toronto, Ontario — There’s never a shortage of talk in our industry, from new product launches to repair procedure updates and rants about labour rates, but for just one moment, join us in taking a step back to talk about what is truly the most important feature of a collision repair facility—the customer.

Regardless of whether the industry finds itself in an up or downswing at any given time, it should never be taken for granted that this business quite directly makes its profits from the aftermath of painful events.

Every manager and shop owner may employ their own method for interacting with customers, but empathy is always the strongest throughline.

“We’re trying to shift our focus from being in the collision industry to being in the accident management industry,” said Lovepreet Mann, co-owner of Runway Auto Collision in Brampton, Ont., in an interview for the cover of Bodyworx Professional from spring.

Mann makes a concerted effort to put herself in the shoes of her customers and relate to what having a car in the shop actually means for people who are trying to carry on with their lives.

“For some people, it might mean the difference of whether they can drop their kids off at school every day, or attend doctors appointments or just live their life the way they normally do,” she said.

“You make money every day, but you can’t make money from everything.”

Fostering these sorts of open and productive relationships with customers serves dual benefits; one being simply the base satisfaction of helping someone get back on track.

“The interaction with people is really what drives me. Going back out with a customer at the end of that repair and walking them back to their car—just having them get their car back and be excited about it again,” said Jeff Hampshire, manager of CCS Southgate Collision in Edmonton, Alta.

The second benefit to these relationships is the positive impact on the role your business serves in its community.

Many shop owners speak to the joy they derive not only from returning customers but from simply hearing their reputation spoken around town and being recognized by institutions as a beacon of skills development and philanthropic engagement.

“Providing that level of service in the community and taking that emotional burden out of collision repair dovetailed with our mission here in town to take the frustration out of the experience as best as we were able to,” said Ron Alberts, co-owner of CARSTAR St. Stephen in St. Stephen, N.B.

“Our mission is to establish rapport, trust, and credibility in the community,” he said.

Jennifer Heroux, co-owner of Lazer Auto Body in Saskatoon, Sask. echoed a similar sentiment in a September 2020 interview.

“You need to tap into your resources, act with goodwill and leave people with a good impression. That’s what will get you far in this business.”

One of Collision Repair magazine’s own team members is currently raising awareness for her 18-year-old niece, who was the victim of a severe collision. While commuting to work on June 14, Taylor Macklin was rear-ended by a dump truck, landing her in Toronto, Ont. Trauma Centre. As of June 22, Taylor has been moved out of the ICU, but she is expected to remain in the hospital for quite some time.

To learn more about Taylor’s accident or to find ways to help, please visit taylormacklin.ca

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