Archive for the ‘Body Shop News’ Category

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“How many coats of paint are you going to put on my Chevy?” With recent advancements of automotive refinish technology that old question has become obsolete… until now! 2015 Lexus RC coupe unveils new four-coat paint process.

The new finish, four stage bright red sparkles so brilliant that it is hard to look at in the sun without sun glasses. This new finish process is achieved through application of four coats which are baked twice in the booth. A base coat of silver is applied first, followed by a clear coat. It is then baked in the spray booth. After a short cooling out process translucent red coat is applied followed by another coat of clear.

Following the second bake, outside in the sun the paint reflects red as well as silver layer deep below, which adds more definition as well as metallic highlight. It is almost as if you are watching the paint in a 3D movie theater screen, except it is 4D. It is a multidimensional paint. In one word it is stunning.

If you are thinking that matching this color on a damaged RC coupe could be a challenge, you might be right.” Oh, it’s not that bad,” assured me DuPont paint technician Alberto Pineda;” You just have to add a few extra steps to the process.” Still if you own one of those beauties I would make sure your shop is equipped to handle the job right.

 

 

Our expert detailer George taking care of the last steps of the refinishing process

Our expert detailer George is polishing Lexus

We take care of our bodies by taking a shower every day. We take care of our teeth by brushing them every day and have deep cleaning a few times a year. We take care of our health by exercising and going to a doctor for regular check-ups. Similarly we take care of our automobiles by filling it up with gas weekly and taking it to our mechanic for service every 3 to 5 thousand miles

So why don’t we take care of the outside of our cars? Isn’t your automobile the second biggest investment you made after your home? Wouldn’t it make sense to keep outside looking shiny and as good as or better than inside?

Have you ever seen a car so dusty that it is difficult to see through a glass window which carries a message from a concerned citizen -”wash me”?  My personal favorite example of untidiness took place a few years ago when our good customer brought his Toyota Camry for collision repair and requested that we do not wash his car after repairs are completed and specifically not throw away any newspapers from the inside. You might want to know how many newspapers were in the back of the car. Well, they packed the back seat to the point of where you could not see through the back window.

Let’s make a New Year resolution to keep our vehicle clean in 2015. It even rhymes so it must be necessary. All it takes is to wash it once a week and to detail or polish the outside paint of your car may be once every three months. You will be surprised how much better you will feel about yourself driving a clean, shiny vehicle. The feeling is similar to one you experience to when you get out of the shower and put a new set of clothes on.

And it’s not just your vanity or a pride of ownership that is at stake here, keeping your automobile’s paint at maximum shine brings its value up. You might still object to this by saying – I am a very busy individual and simply do not have any extra time required for weekly car washes and especially quarterly details which would most likely leave me without my car for a full day. To which I say – make time, just like you make time for personal grooming, make some time for grooming of your vehicle.

If you simply do not wish to do it yourself, there plenty of carwashes and detail shops all over town who are willing especial accommodations for you. Or you can call me directly at Hilton Auto Collision Center and we will pick up your vehicle detail it and deliver it back to you for no extra charge and provide you a daily car rental if needed. So what are you waiting for? Put this on top of your New Year’s resolutions for 2015, to keep your vehicle clean.

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Twenty first century brought us the invention of a smart phone, social media and much increased expectations of superior customer service. The big round world called earth has gotten much smaller. For example I can communicate with my cousin in Germany over Skype as if he was next door.

More and more I get requests from our customers for repair estimates for their vehicles to be made just from photographs that are sent via email or text from their phones. A trip to the local body shop to get an estimate on minor repair to the vehicle takes time. Time is money. Why not get an idea of what it would cost from the photos? Isn’t that one of the reasons they invented a smart phone?

It seems like a great idea. So why do I discourage customers from doing that? Because unless you are a professional photographer and know a lot about shades and lighting and right angles, pictures might be misleading.  Bringing up that point I usually get a response:” I just need to get an idea of what it would cost. I want hold you to it.”

This puts me in a conundrum.  On one hand I would like to make you happy and accommodate your request and save your valuable time, on the other hand I am concerned that the idea you would get from photos could be far from reality and thus create a conflict.

Imagine getting an email from me that based on your photos the repair should cost you about $500.00. You are happy. It is less than you expected. You schedule a repair and drop off the car at the body shop. Next day you get a call or email stating that the part actually needed to be replaced not repaired and the cost of repairs is $1500.00 and not $500.00. Your first is – this guy is a crook!

Now through no fault of my own, instead of gaining a loyal customer because of a special service I was willing to provide, I lose a client, but more than that I get an unhappy motorist who most likely will bad mouth my establishment.

“But I explained to you how inaccurate virtual estimate could be based on a photo and you told me you will not hold me to it!” explanations become meaningless when a consumer feels that he has been wronged by a body shop. One negative comment is worth ten positive ones.

What is the solution? After careful consideration I decided to offer mobile estimates. If you are really strapped for time and are willing to pay a little for the service, we will be offering mobile estimates beginning in January, 2015. We will come to your home or office and prepare a professional estimate using a tablet technology. The estimate will be promptly emailed to you. Of course an estimate is still only an estimate, because you never know what you will find once the vehicle is taken apart, but this will ensure maximum possible accuracy. The fee charged will be refunded when you bring your vehicle for repairs.

I need your feedback. Would this be of benefit to you? Please let me know.

When was the last time you visited neighborhood pharmacy? Not to disclose my age, but I remember getting a cream soda at the local pharmacy. Those days are over. Yesterday my medical insurance company told me that I can only pick up my medicine from Walgreen’s. Large corporations such as Rite Aid and Walgreens took over the pharmacy business. They are huge well financed corporations with locations all over United States and ability to give deep discounts and make agreements with major medical insurance companies. Small, one location, neighborhood pharmacies just could not compete. They are gone for all practical purposes.

Such is not the case for restaurants. Small mom and pop diners are able to coexist with such giants as Denny’s and Norm’s. Gourmet, one location Pizza places are able to make a good living located right next to a large chain’s like Dominos. Small local bistros are thriving right next to Applebee’s.

What about auto body shops or what they are called these days, automotive collision centers? Large corporations and huge consolidators have been buying smaller shops all over the country for the past several decades. It is a trend that has been picking up speed with intermittent success. M2 Collision Centers filed for bankruptcy in 2005 after buying and operating a significant number of big body shops in Southern California. Today’s consolidators are much more experienced. They are well financed and well organized. They have the ability to buy in balk cheap and sell cheaper. They are structured to give deep discounts to insurance companies, who have become a major source for collision work in recent years.

My personal experience with one consolidator showed me that they are hard to compete with and they might be here to stay. Moving my shop from Burbank to Pasadena last year, I was hoping to retain a good majority of my business because of close physical proximity between old and new locations. I went down to talk to my partners at Community Chevrolet. I have been doing business with those guys for the past fifteen years. It was a handshake contract that was based on mutual respect and trust. During our meeting I was informed that Caliber Collision Center approached Community Chevrolet and proposed that all ten of their big shops would buy parts from them in exchange for giving collision business to a local shop. It was an offer that Community could not refuse since their parts selling business was going to skyrocket. It made dollars and cents. I simply could not compete with that.

Still I believe there is a value in an independent, neighborhood body shop where an owner knows your name and personally greets you and asks you about your family. For example, I have been working on Mr. Joe Baldino’s vehicles since 1990. I have fixed his father’s car, his wife’s and his children when they got to be old enough to drive. He recently offered me his vacation home in Hawaii. When Joe brings his vehicle for repair, he does not ask me about an estimate. He tells me to call him when it’s done. He knows he will get exceptional repair along with personal service at a fair price. This cannot be accomplished at a corporate shop.

So, can the lesser sized independent shops survive and thrive among gargantuan corporate collision centers? Only time will tell.

Special! Summer Promotion!

Posted: April 10, 2014 in Body Shop News

By Andrei Volkov

Summer CouponOne of the most dangerous times during the year for your car is the Summer. The extreme heat and direct sunlight hitting your car can and will slowly cause serious harm to your paint. Even leaving it in a scolding hot parking lot on a particularly hotday can be quite bad for it. While these dangerous aren’t very prevalent, over time they can become very serious.

 

So, during the Summers we have made it customary to offer a coupon to help our customers keep their cars safe from the sun! Starting May 1st, if you show up at our shop with this coupon in hand (all you need to do is print it out!) and have a job costing more than $1,000, we’ll give your car a FULL detailed cleaning for free! This should keep your car safe for at least a month or two, guaranteed!

By Andrei Volkov

 

Before Toyota

 

Every week, without fail, someone shows up at the shop telling us that they HAVE to get three estimates, because THEY told them to. I think the most important thing to me to note here is that no one has to do anything. But, that aside, who are they to tell you to go get three estimates? Be it your dad, your uncle, your grandmama, the guy who hit you, the insurance company, whoever, three seems to be the magic number of estimates that people always want other people to get.

 

Now, what if you know about cars, enough that you can comfortably know when and where you’re getting a good deal. Or what if you have a really trusted friend or family member with a body shop? What if you don’t really care about where the car is fixed at, or you don’t have the time to get three? My advice: don’t. Don’t get three estimates. The reason for this is simple: you are being forced to work for someone else. The person telling you to shop around is actually having you shop around for them. You’re doing unpaid work! Unpaid work for the person who is responsible for getting your car fixed.

 

As often as I hear ‘they told me to get three estimates,’ I also hear ‘they want me to go to another shop.’ The most important thing to realize in these situations is that the other person, be they the person at fault or an insurance company, is NOT the boss of your vehicle. You are, and you by law are allowed to take your vehicle to whatever body shop you want. The other party is not handling the repairs for your car they are just handling the payment, they can not guarantee a good job. The next thing to realize, is that by law, you only need one estimate. ONE ESTIMATE IS ALL YOU NEED. Even if the CEO of the insurance company called you and told you that you HAD to get 3 estimates, by law, you only need one so he can be ignored.

 

For the last twenty years or so my father has been handing out flyers with little facts on them, and I think it’s about time I brought those facts to a digital outlet. These aren’t groundbreaking or secret, by no means, but there are plenty of people who don’t know them, or so it seems.

 

  1. The Law does not require you to get more than one estimate.
  2. You are not required to use any particular shop. You choose the body shop to perform repairs.
  3. There is a difference in body shops. A lower estimate may overlook details like aligning the front end, aiming the headlights, etc. It’s your car…make sure it’s repaired to your satisfaction.
  4. You are the only one who can authorize repairs on your car. Don’t sign any releases until you’re sure that the insurance company will cover the cost of the repairs.
  5. Be aware of the “appraisal clause” in your insurance policy. If the insurance company and the body shop cannot agree on what the repairs should cost, this could provide a means of fair settlement.
  6. You should know that your car is being repaired for you as the owner. You are expected, therefore, to be able to pay for the repairs upon completion. To avoid paying with your personal check, arrange to have the insurance company releases signed and back to the paying company in time for them to get a check back to you. If a lienholder is named on the check, be sure to get his endorsement. By making these arrangements in advance, you will help the repair shop to get you back on the road in a minimum of time.

 

So next time some jerk who hit you is pushing you to get three estimates, or if your insurance company is trying to steer you somewhere, arm yourself with the facts and remember that you have rights, you have options, and you can do as you like!

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We’re a little late to the party but the auto industry is finally making major plays on the digital and internet stages. It’s been standard practice to have a website for any business for almost fourteen years now, but since websites generally just give information or allow you to place online orders they’re essentially phones without having a to deal with a person on the other end. Thanks to social media and the technological leaps in portable technology the way our customers interact with us is changing.

 

Pictures have been increasing in pixel size, cameras have been decreasing in physical size, and these two combinations have made things like Snapchat and Instagram incredibly accessible and thus wildly popular. Well we’re making use of these technologies in a couple of ways. Taking pictures and having a way to send them easily means now we can write estimates for minor damage without ever having to see a car. While this isn’t entirely recommended since there is always the chance of internal damage, and pictures don’t get the message across entirely, it’s a step in an interesting direction.

The newest innovation which really sticks out is now the ability for our customers to track their repairs. Thanks to the great folks at CCC Information Services, we can now have our customers look up not only the status of repairs online, but also see pictures of the process. Not every body shop will be participating in this, but at Hilton Auto Collision we’ll be doing our best to make sure our customers can check up on their cars right from the comfort of their own homes.

 

Now for my personal favorite: tablets. Tablets have been around since the mid-nineties but did not get very popular until around 2007, and are really just computers that use touch instead of hardware for interaction. This difference is invaluable, since it allows for the tablet to be portable. Thanks to its portability anyone can use it anywhere, easily, and unlike laptops they don’t have long start up times (they usually just stay on) and due to the simpler technology going into them, large amounts of fans, bulky casing, and other computer necessities are not required.

With all of this in mind, it is easy to see the future which is coming, and I for one look forward to it. Our body shop has recently received its first CCC approved tablet and when it is set up we will be writing estimates outside by our customers’ cars, right next to them, in real time. This gives a more open, less restrictive environment for both us and our customers. No longer will customers sit idly by staring uncomfortably at the unknown of the computer screen. Instead we’ll be right by you, going over the vehicle step by step as we input it into our device.

 

My father told me that in the early nineties, body shops stopped hand writing estimates and switched to computers. The change was made to make things more streamlined, to boost production, and to lower the chances of getting inflated estimates. An unintended consequence of this is it seems to have also separated customers from the body shops. A technological shift is happening right now which has the potential to remove this unintended problem. Thanks to the internet, social media, and tablets, no longer do we keep our customers out; we can now open our doors wide and let them in.

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With a recent move to Pasadena I get a lot of phone calls from Burbank customers. Surprisingly or due to my sincere desire for exceptional customer service approximately 75% of them are willing to go to Pasadena to get their vehicles repaired. But Pasadena is only 15 miles away from Burbank, a relatively short ride on the freeway. How far would you go to get the repair and customer service you deserve?

Former Los Angeles resident Mark Duncan drove his prized Porsche, 911 Carrera convertible all the way from Las Vegas to get repaired at Hilton Auto Collision Center. “I wouldn’t have it any other way!” exclaimed Mr. Duncan who moved to Vegas last year exploring a business opportunity.

Driving on Nevada highway Mark ran his valued speedster over something and cracked his bumper and radiator.” I didn’t even have to think about it,” exclaimed Mr. Duncan when he called me about his problem:” I already called my insurance company. I want you to take care of my baby.”

And I did just that. Aside from six thousand dollars bumper special ordered from Germany repair went smoothly. A month later Mark was back behind the wheel of his shining white cabriolet. “You did a beautiful job,” said Mark when I met him at a function in Burbank the day after he picked up his car:” It even feels like it has more pep and it drives better.