Thursday, 24 March 2011 16:06

Global PDR Solutions & Park Place Bodywerks Hail the Hail

When most of us think about hail, we think of stormy weather. But in parts of the country, hail means big money for body shops. When hail-prone places like Northern Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas, Arkansas and Alabama, get grapefruit-sized or pebble-sized hailstones it can quickly change peoples’ lives. And it happens every year during hail season, which normally starts in March and can run all the way through October.

Park Place Bodywerks in Dallas, Texas and a growing enterprise called Global Paintless Dent Repair (PDR) Solutions (GPS) have a “stormy relationship” that is both profitable and beneficial for both parties.

According to Eric McKenzie, 36, the body shop director at Park Place Bodywerks, his shop did $1.8 million monthly in revenues without the assistance of any DRP’s. About 98% of the 500 cars that Park Place Bodywerks repairs every month are high-end luxury brands that the company sells through its 12 dealerships located in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, McKenzie said.

The handful of nameplates sold and serviced by Park Place Motors reads like the best-of-the-best, including Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, Porsche, Volvo, Jaguar, Bentley, Maserati, Rolls Royce, McLaren (when it hits the U.S. in June of this year), Smart Cars and an occasional Maybach.

GPS was founded eight years ago, when three different PDR companies with more than 45 years industry experience joined forces. After seeing drastic changes within the world of PDR and realizing that the specialty was experiencing a drop in quality and customer service, these visionaries decided to take PDR to the next level. The move paid off because, in just a short time, GPS had seen an astronomical spike in market share and growth, according to company representatives.

McKenzie initially found out about GPS by working with one of its eventual owners, Scott Dietz, more than nine years ago, he explained. “We had a major hail storm in 2003 where approximately 100,000 cars were reportedly damaged in this area. I was an assistant manager at another luxury brand dealership at that time and some of that company’s larger DRPs wanted us to try some of their approved vendors for PDR, because this particular hail storm was so big. So we brought in a few companies and gave them a shot, but they basically didn’t do a very good job. There were some issues with quality, timeliness and the techs weren’t available to us all the time. They would show up on Monday, and then leave Thursday afternoon, and then we wouldn’t see them again until Tuesday morning, with cars stacked up out the doors.”

With these high-end luxury cars, customer service needs to be not just satisfactory but exemplary day after day, McKenzie stressed. “If our vendor isn’t providing top service, then we logically can’t pass it on to our customers, so it was a struggle to us. With some shops, maybe that’s okay, but with us, it has to be perfect. We gave three or four of these companies a shot, all referred by our DRPs, and we couldn’t rely on any of them.”

That’s when McKenzie first met Scott Dietz. “Scott became our go-to guy in ’03, because he was so reliable; his work was quick, accurate and phenomenal,” McKenzie said. “He was with us through October that year and we were obviously very impressed. He even came back when stragglers came through, right up until the end of the year. After that storm, Scott and his partners started GPS and when I came to Park Place, one of the first things I did was hire them.

“These techs who really know how to do PDR at a high level are truly craftsmen. When it’s not done properly, the telltale sign is that you can still see the dent. The marks from pushing on the dent are apparent when it’s not done correctly. You can either see traces of the dent or in massaging the area they push too hard and can actually push it past the dent and make tool marks. Or they get into the headliner and damage it or mess up the electrical. We were experiencing a litany of these problems until we contracted with GPS. Getting half of the dents out of a vehicle just doesn’t make it, especially when you’re working on a Rolls Royce, for example.

Turning the vehicles in and out quickly is a major factor when PDR is performed, especially when the storms are more serious, McKenzie said. “With our previous PDR vendors, it would typically take 2-4 days or longer to get the job done. But, with GPS it’s always two days max, with more accuracy and a better job overall.”

During the larger storms, PDR means decent revenue for Park Place, McKenzie said. “GPS gives us a healthy percentage of each job, so yes—it definitely makes financial sense for us to work with them. Providing top quality is our first priority, but to make some money along the way is a major bonus.”

McKenzie is not afraid to tell other body shop owners about GPS, he said. “Their quality is excellent and we’ve recommended GPS to several shops. I’m in a 20 Group and I’ve recommended them across the country and they’re pleased with them as well.”

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