Shop Profile - Collision Repair

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Win-win scenarios are specialties on the Baker family’s menu of successful business practices

Tuesday, May 7, 2019 - 07:00
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Having been in business for 66 years spanning three generations, South Carolina’s Baker family is cooking up quite a legacy of personalized customer service and employee satisfaction at its trio of Baker Collision Express locations in Lexington, Irmo and Columbia.

“We have modern, well-equipped, air-conditioned and heated facilities, plus a great culture. Our customers know that they are not just another number -- not just a job to be processed,” says Steve Baker, “and that we treat our customers with utmost respect, treating each job as if it belonged to our mother.”

At a Glance:
Baker Collision Express
Lexington, S.C.
Main location
Larry Baker
No. of shops
Years in business
No. of employees
No. of DRPs
Lexington, 25,000; Irmo, 7,200; Southeast, 9,000
Square footage of shops
Lexington, 26; Irmo, 12; Southeast, 15
No. of bays per shop
Average repair order
8.2 days
Average cycle time
Average weekly volume
Vehicles per week combined
$10.2 million
Annual gross revenue
Paint supplier
Frame machines used
Estimating system used

Owner Larry Baker, Steve’s father, attributes much of the I-CAR Gold Class-rated enterprise’s success to their sizable investment in certifications from General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan, Kia, Acura and Infiniti.

“Proper tooling, effective repair processes and a stringent continuing education regimen are all requirements to earn and keep the original manufacturer certifications,” Larry points out. “Manufacturer certifications provide much-needed accountability to the collision repair industry to ensure that shops are equipped to safely and properly return vehicles to their pre-accident factory specifications.”

“We have the equipment and technology required to repair the latest-model vehicles,” adds Steve. “We always have plenty of work to do, we have a fantastic benefits selection to choose from and we treat all our employees like family.”

“We re-manufacture damaged vehicles in much the same process as they are made at the factory,” Larry reports. “Manufacturing is how the car is made originally,” he elaborates. “Re-manufacturing it is basically repairing it to the exact condition and state that it was in when it was originally manufactured.”

An assembly line-type of production enables several team members to work on each step at the same time, which allows undetectable repairs to be made in about half the time as the traditional methods typically utilized by most other shops, according to Larry.

A teamwork pay plan encourages a cooperative approach, meaning that “the translation for the customer is that there is no one at Baker with any incentive to charge customers more money for a repair than what is fair,” he says.

“The evolution of vehicle technology has created a massive learning curve for the repairers to be able to effectively service and repair each new vehicle. Advances in collision avoidance technology, airbag and safety restraint systems and electronic drivetrain and braking systems have made a focus on safety and proper repair techniques critical in an industry that is slow to adapt and change,” Larry asserts.

“The driving force behind our business is the confidence that we are putting people back on the road in safe cars. That’s what helps me sleep at night” he says. “Cars come in here for repair with child safety seats in them. This isn’t something that I take lightly.”

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In the world of collision repair, “technology that used to feel space-age is now commonplace,” Larry observes. “The computerization and proliferation of technology like GPS, collision-avoidance, adaptive headlights and cruise control, smart air bags, and so much more has changed how vehicles should be repaired. It is imperative that we keep up with the changing technology so that we are educated and equipped to properly repair vehicles.”

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