|IMAGE / AL THOMAS|
The collision repair industry is a complex business that needs to form strong bonds with its partners (Fig. 1), or the companies that supply parts, materials, information and training needed to comply with numerous regulations governing the industry, which can be overwhelming. Shop managers must have strong working relationships with these suppliers to coordinate a smooth business and speedy repairs for customers.
To some, the word partner might seem out of place when addressing suppliers. Although suppliers won't appear in a business plan as partners, they become a strong and necessary part of an everyday operation.
With automobiles becoming more complex to repair, shop owners become dependent on suppliers to bring them needed parts and materials for each job. It might not be so critical if it were as simple as stocking 100 fender bolts or a certain amount of white paint, but each vehicle – even if they were all white – would require a different formula to mix paint for its refinishing. Moreover, two cars painted white with the same manufacturer code may be different, depending on the factory where each was built.
To meet these complex needs, shop owners depend on suppliers to help them achieve quick repairs. One of the most frustrating situations a company encounters is running out of a material. Mixing a paint formula and finding there's a lack of parts can stop production in its tracks. A jobber who visits a shop regularly helps shops remain supplied with materials without stocking a costly amount of extras.
Additionally, shops rely on manufacturers and suppliers to help comply with environmental, fire and safety codes. Coordinating these complex areas of the business would be even more difficult if it wasn't for a partner to help. The jobber has evolved from a simple paint or products supplier to a valued source for business needs. With environmental laws changing rapidly and the need to switch to a waterborne paint system, jobbers and the paint companies they represent can be invaluable.