It's not the Hard Rock Café, teaming with movie stars, it is Planet Ford, the Number 1 Ford F-150 dealer in America. Referring to itself as an "autotainment mall," Planet Ford does have many similarities to the Hard Rock Café as both were designed by the architect, Michael Graves.
On the corner of this 10-acre dealership, everyone driving in passes a two-story globe of Planet Earth - welcoming all to Planet Ford. Directions are well marked to get customers to Planet Ford Collision Center. The futuristic office - with Planet Ford's globe papered on the wall - juxtaposes well with the history of Ford - showing pictures of Henry Ford and the first automobile assembly line.
Collision Center Director Mike Dennis, and his staff of five bring a lot of experience to this insurance-friendly shop. Dispatcher Erich Hirsch brings technical hands-on talent, recently moving from the shop into the office. Three estimators bring over 40 years experience. Office manager, veteran of the dealership, Misty Newton moved to the collision center.
It is no surprise to walk in and see a lot of trucks in this 23,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art shop. Six journeyman collision technicians are using Chief EZ Liner frame equipment and Genesis computer measuring systems to repair heavy hits. Two apprentices from the Houston-based Universal Technical Institute (UTI) are working with the journeymen techs.
Every stall in the collision side of the shop has its own overhead door. Part carts line both sides of each stall and a three-foot wide aisle through the center of the shop eases up space to help produce more collision repair work.
Two journeyman refinish technicians and three painter's apprentices are spraying PPG Global. The paint shop, housed in a stand-alone building has three down draft booths, all of them suitable for trucks. All repairs are done in the dealership, including air bags, electronics and computerized wheel alignment.
Customer service at Planet Ford begins at its website, with a contact window for collision repair center customers to book their appointment on line. Planet Ford customers receive a lifetime warranty on their repairs and customers are politely asked to fill out the CSI report.
The list of credentials for this dealership collision repair center is long. They recently passed the re-certification process for the Ford CCRN - Certified Collision Repair Network. To participate in the Ford program, this shop had to meet rigorous standards. CCRN requires a thorough 10-week training and implementation program before certification. Technicians at Planet Ford had to meet Ford Motor Company's current training and collision industry certification standards.
In addition to the CCRN quality repair documentation, shops are subject to visits from this program to verify standards are being met. Facilities are required to use Ford-approved equipment, systems and building lighting requirements. This Ford dealership met the facility requirements after the initial CCRN certification and has maintained the high standard since.
The CCRN quality repair documentation manages every step of the repair process, benchmarking the results in monthly reports. Dennis uses this tool to help him manage processes and use the positive results to market his shop. A third- party CSI report, used by Planet Ford, is also part of the CCRN program.
Dennis also participates in the PPG Certified First program and is actively engaged in Certified First Round Table discussions. He is a proponent of and plans to implement the PPG 'TPM' system in his shop. TPM - through put management - is a process developed to help get 40% of work through the shop and out the door in 72 hours.
As a member of the Certified First program, Dennis became involved in the insurance agent Continuing Education program. His "Ethics Class" is certified by the state of Texas and all agents in attendance get credits towards their continuing education.
Manager Dennis is involved in dealership operations as well as the collision repair center as one of three directors who oversee operations for the entire dealership. His wife, Donna Dennis also works at Planet Ford, managing the 'Autotainment' department of the business.
Dennis is from Lake Charles, Louisiana, and his Cajun wit and charm matches his background and knowledge to make him a popular speaker with Texas insurance agents. He was invited by the, Professional Insurance Association (PIA) to speak at last year's annual convention. His message and popularity have earned him an invitation to speak at this year's convention as well.
Mike and Donna Dennis moved to Houston from Lake Charles because good friend Steve Stravoski told him about Planet Ford. Stravoski is parts manager and another one of the three dealership managing directors. Randall Reed, owner of Planet Ford, is the reason Stravoski encouraged the Dennis family to make the move. And it was the right move.
Reed encourages Dennis's insurance agent programs."Randall Reed is the best person anyone could ever ask to work for," stated Dennis emphatically."He gives so much back to this community. He is always asking the question - how can we give back?"
Personally, Dennis - also known as the "Louisiana transplant" - is humbled by Randall Reed's commitment to his employees and community. "I was a stranger in a new community and Randall Reed supported my efforts to belong to this dealership and make it my home."
Dennis and his team run the Planet Ford collision repair center with attention to customer satisfaction and - well, the service is just out of this world!
Janet Chaney has been in many facets of the collision industry. She is serving the best interest of her clients through Cave Creek Business Development. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.