George Toth, owner of Lakeside Paint & Body, smiles for the camera while behind his desk.
Lakeside Paint & Body has been in the same location, with the same telephone number, using the same personable approach to customer service since its doors first opened in 1968.
Lakeside Paint & Body
“Lakeside is a small community,” said owner George Toth. “Eighty to 90 percent of us know each other on a first-name basis. Our customers do not feel like a number.”
He added that out of the 17,777 people he has served since he took over the family business 28 years ago, almost all have found the shop by word of mouth.
“We are not a DRP,” said Toth. “The insurance companies guide customers to their DRPs, instead of letting people choose who they want to work on their car. At the end of the day, it’s the customer’s car, not the insurance company’s, and the customer should be comfortable with whoever is working on it.”
In order to help new-age customers find their shop, Lakeside Paint & Body became a member of Yelp about a year ago.
“It’s the only form of advertisement we’ve had to use in 50 years,” Toth said. He added that, as a business owner, he finds Yelp helpful, likes it so far and has received a lot of positive feedback. Although Toth said since he doesn’t monitor the Yelp reviews, he encourages customers who aren’t satisfied to speak with him in person.
“I will respond to someone that gives me a chance and who tells me, ‘Hey I’m not happy,’” Toth said. “I’ll look at the car and evaluate it a little differently, putting myself in the customer’s shoes, ‘How would I feel?’”
A view of Lakeside Paint & Body’s outdoor facilities.
Toth also discussed the importance of using quality products to meet the customer’s needs, which is why Lakeside Paint & Body started using Lusid Technologies a year and a half ago.
“Lusid Technologies gives us a glamour affect with economic value,” he said. “It really looks good and it costs about 25 percent less than other materials.”
Toth added, “We’re having great success with the color matches too, and the clears are very high quality.”
Lusid Technologies is dedicated to supplying state-of-the-art product technology to the OEM, fleet, and automotive and light industrial marketplace. The company’s Northstar™ products are automotive quality tailored to meet fleet and OEM application requirements. Lusid’s research and development laboratory and sales team work diligently to ensure suitable applications for customer needs.
Toth said Lakeside Body & Paint was the first shop in town to use waterbased paint, but now that there are low VOC compliant solvent basecoats, they’ve switched to Lusid’s GenVerde line which meets regulatory standards at an excellent price. This, combined with better coverage rates, translates into improved production time thus increasing efficiency at a better price.
When asked whether or not Lakeside Paint & Body repairs aluminum vehicles, Toth said his shop works with alloyed, fiberglass, and also does metal fabrication.
He then went on to explain how, after 20 years of working in the industry and thinking he knew everything, he started looking for new ways to gain knowledge and reach out to customers.
A customer’s bumper is painted using GenVerde.
“I always knew in the back of my mind that I had crashed my dad’s Mustang three hours after getting my temporary paper license,” said Toth. “But I didn’t know my penance would be to make the lives of 16- year-old drivers a little easier.” He said on more than one occasion, he has had new drivers come into his office in a similar state he had once been in himself.
“People are crying, the parents are there, the kids are just upset; it’s a bad deal,” said Toth. “So, I have to find a way to break the ice and change that emotion. I don’t like to see people crying.”
He then goes over to the new driver and “drills” them on what happened.
“At first they don’t know I’m really interested, so after I hear this and that, I ask, ‘How long have you had your license?’” said Toth. “And they go, ‘two weeks,’ or somewhere along those lines.”
That’s when he tells the family that they qualify for a discount.
“When they hear the word discount in that state of alarm, their eyes widen and their ears open up and listen,” said Toth. “And when they ask what I mean, I say, ‘Well, you didn’t break my record, so you don’t have to pay full price.’”
He then goes into his own He then goes into his own story.
“By the time they leave, they’re laughing and more at ease,” said Toth. “They’re still going to have to pay something, but we try to give the best discount we can, because the most compassionate 16-yearold driver, me, is making the call.”
He said that lesson, and the positive reaction he has received, has kept him going.
“I may not have financial stardom, but my morals are still in tact,” said Toth.