D-Patrick also pre-cleans every vehicle – thoroughly scrubbing them inside and out (including removing insect parts and tough interior stains) while the vehicle is waiting for repairs or parts.
"We don't want a vehicle to simply sit. You can always be doing something while a vehicle waits for service," Hagan says.
When it comes to sourcing employees to handle these and other shop duties, D-Patrick uses another unusual system. It hires new techs and other workers from the pool of employees that handle "used car repairs" – the minor cosmetic work performed on trade-in vehicles before they are placed on the used car sales lots (for D-Patrick and other local dealers). The system benefits the business in two ways. This work generates quick income for the shop and it's a key component in the training, development and growth of future repair professionals.
"By starting younger, inexperienced, but eager, people on minor repairs, we've been able to successfully develop our own talent," Hagan says. "So far we've 'grown' a painter and a body technician and have three more in the process."
Spotless floors and an attractive open layout are important elements in appealing to collision repair customers just as they are at nearly every other service business.
These uniquely sourced employees have the opportunity to work in D-Patrick's latest creation – an independent shop. The business's fourth location is not anchored at a dealership. Instead, it provides independent mechanical and collision work under the D-Patrick name. If that sounds like a departure from the trend of independent shops providing dealers with turnkey collision repair solutions, it's supposed to be.
Hagan says D-Patrick has taken this direction for two reasons: to attract new customers to the D-Patrick name and, essentially, to do something different.
Employees who take care of bumper work and cosmetic repairs on used vehicles have the opportunity to become technicians and painters.
"We were looking for a way to bring all repairs, mechanical and collision, in-house, under one roof," Hagan says. "We wanted to do something fresh that would be the next step for our business."
If it works out – and Hagan says the early signs are all positive – the move could inspire other dealers to follow or repairers in general to roll the dice on new business ventures. If history holds true, the industry might be searching for managerial candidates at local eateries.