I Must be the only dent guy who works around here because I’m up to my ass in work and never seem to catch up.
Well that was 5 years ago and I still clock 10 hour working days and rarely if ever cannot fill a day. I guess at that point I made the realization that I’m a solid PDR guy with a pretty great reputation. So, I felt like I had laid the groundwork to start a shop and stay busy.
Another HUGE factor was traffic. I would spend hours a day in the car. That time is free time. As in free of making any money. I decided that 1 location would allow me to do more work and less driving. And let’s be honest it rains a ton in the NW!! A shop allows me to control my environment. I can jack up a car, remove a wheel etc. After 16 years of mobile service, the shop life is pretty nice.
How did you go about finding the right space?
In deciding on the right location I partnered with a high end detail shop and a paint protection company. We all occupy separate units within a very high end car dealership complex, Park Place Motors. Our goal was to offer individual customers one centralized location where they can bring their car and have multiple luxury services performed.
Seattle is a pricey area. Was it hard to find a good location and facility that didn’t bust your budget?
Real estate is very expensive on the east side. Buildings are at a premium as well. But as a group, (myself, detail shop, tint guy, and vinyl film company) we were able to get a large building and divide it efficiently.
What factors made you decide to choose your current space (parking, visibility, location, surrounding businesses, etc.)?
It is street side on a main road and is in an area with multiple dealers and body shops. I personally think this is key to PDR shop success. You want your shop to be close to these related businesses, so they can bring their cars to you easily. If you have to go to them, making a quick mobile stop is easy as well. It is also nice to be able to network with the other related services and share retail customers.
What kind of area is your shop in (industrial, retail, on a main road, etc.)?
My current location is in a high end dealer complex. A separate building but in the same complex as the above listed partnered businesses. We have a new location only just up the road from the current one that is being upgraded as we speak. The new location is quite a bit bigger, which will allow me to fit more cars in the shop at one time and increase productivity.
Did you sign a long term lease?
Lease is a 5 year with a five year option.
How would you compare the challenge of opening the shop vs starting your own PDR company?
Comparing starting my own business to opening a shop I think has a few of the same stresses. I left a company ( DW) making great money to try it on my own. I stopped being 100% mobile making great money to see if I could make a shop successful. Both of these are tough to let go of what’s comfortable to try a new challenge. Obviously after this many years in the business I figured no matter what, I could always go back to mobile if need be. Both decisions have been ABSOLUTELY worth it on every level. My monthly totals have drastically increased since opening the shop. I think it’s a combination of less wasted drive time and the fact that my pricing has risen, which seems to be the trend from other high end dent guys all over the country.
Are you a one man show or do you employ other PDR techs and office help?
I was a 1 man show until 2 months ago. I hired an employee and man what a great help that has been. To not have to do 100% of EVERY single aspect of the job is such a relief. I sent him to train with Myke Toledo at Dent Time. He is now in an apprentice role, learning the fine details of the business and refining his skills. I also have a CPA and a bookkeeper I pay monthly to do my necessary billing, taxes and the such.
Choosing the right guy to train and join your business is a difficult task. Where did you find him? What made you decide he was the right fit?
He actually worked at Park Place Motors, which is in the same complex as my shop. He was in charge of greeting customers and managing the hand car washes for the dealership. I wanted to hire someone for a while and every time I thought about who to choose, I kept coming back to him. His greatest asset is his people skills. He can talk to and relate to all types of people. He’s also self motivated. I think that is key when choosing to bring someone into PDR. Anyone can learn how to push dents, if they put enough time and effort into the trade. You really need to have someone that can build rapport and gain the trust of people, so those customers are willing to hand over the keys of their prized possession. You also want a guy who can make things happen on his own and doesn’t need to be micro managed. He kind of reminds me of myself when I first started. I think he will do really well when I turn him loose. Once I was introduced to PDR and taught the details of the business, I was like,