5 Things we BOTH learned at Mobile Tech Expo
Mobile Tech Expo is the largest paintless dent removal trade show in the USA.
Shane and Keith explain the top 5 things they both personally learned by attending the show in person over the last few years.
Remember, for the promotion, spend $120 and input “trytape” as a discount code and get free Whale Tail Tape this week only! ends 10/19/2015
At the same time get your hands on the most realistic tolecut sandpaper package available to PDR techs here
Keith Cosentino: Let’s talk tools. We’ve got some new stuff on Black Plague PDR. Listen, I know you guys are using the smooth series tabs already. I know you’re using the Black Plague crease tabs already. If you’re not, you’re crazy. Buy them. I know you’re using TabWeld glue. If you haven’t tried it, you’re crazy. Try it. It’s better than what you’re using. But let’s not talk about that stuff, because it’s been out for a while. I know you’re using it. Let’s talk about some stuff that has been out but is new on my site. And let’s talk about why.
The first one is a product that I didn’t think I would want to carry. It’s a certain kind of tape, and it’s a hard, plastic, rigid tape. I got some to try out, and I thought, “I just don’t like this tape. I don’t like trying to put it on a round tool. It feels weird. It doesn’t conform to the tool. I just don’t like it. I don’t think I’m going to carry it.”
Like I’ve told you before, if I don’t like it I’m not going to carry it on my site and tell you that you should carry it in your box. If I don’t use it, I don’t think you should use it. That’s how I can stand behind everything I sell 100 percent, because I know I use it in my personal business in the field. I make money with it, so I can recommend it to you. So I wasn’t going to carry this tape.
Well, I had a scenario and I finally understood the strength of this product, and I’m going to explain it to you just for a moment here. I was working on a Honda CRV. It was the back of the roof, and this body shop was putting the new repainted lift gate on the car. They dropped it and made a really sharp dent in the roof of this CRV. I think it was – I can’t remember the measurement now –somewhere around .09 or something like that. Deep, but repairable.
Well, the back of that roof was really braced up, so the only way you could get to it well was with a whale tail. But the CRV metal is really thin and crappy. So I thought, “What am I going to do to get this thing up here? I don’t want to be here for three weeks, pushing this dent, trying to push it up clean.” And it’s a body shop, and they’re really fixated on this one spot, so it had to be perfect.
So I was on the dent. I was pushing it. It was going to be fine. It was just so nasty and deep that it was the kind that was going to take you a while. You have to really be patient, or you’re going to bump it up. So I decided to get this product out, and I call it whale tail tape now. It’s this hard, clear, plastic tape, and I was able to put one little strip just over the top of the whale tail, and then another piece – so it’s two pieces thick – on the corner that I was pushing with – just the one corner, because that’s the only side I was pushing with.
Well, it’s so thin and it’s so rigid, that it was able to allow the whale tail to continue to slide into the brace and still do its job, versus if you taped it around and around with duct tape or even the German dent tape that we use. It’s too thick, and it doesn’t – when it’s a sharp tip pushing through it, it will push through the German dent tape. That’s not what it’s designed for, so that’s not a strength that it has.
But with this tape, this is exactly what it’s for. I was able to get some huge, monster pushes on the bottom of that dent without leaving any push marks – just like leather in that particular circumstance. So I just loved it. I was able to finish that repair in probably 10 or 15 minutes compared to what would have taken me an hour before. Now I have whale tail tape on the truck.
It’s not something you’re going to use all the time, but if you’re using Hale, you’re silly if you don’t have some, because this could save an hour on a car for the two or three different spots that are deep shots that are under a brace. And we all know the deepest shots are under braces, because the brace holds the rest of the metal, and the dent just stretches right there.
So, check it out on the site. It’s called whale tail PDR tape, and I know you don’t like to try stuff new, so I’ve made a promotion for this week. If you spend $120.00 or more, and you enter the coupon code Try Tape, it’ll take $21.50 off of your purchase. So the tape is free. So I’m literally giving it to you to try, but only for this week. That’s a ridiculous promotion. I’m losing money to give it out to you, but I want you to try it and tell your friends about it. And tell me if you liked it or not. So it’s a little bit of a trial.
I know I used it, and it worked, so I know you’re going to enjoy it. But that’s only going until this Friday. That’s the 18th or the 19th. I don’t have my calendar in front of me as I make this recording, but the Friday after the show comes out live, that’s when it’ll end. So you have a few days to take advantage of that. So do it, because that’s silly. I probably should not give it away for free, but I want you to try it.
So, the other product I am carrying now is Tolecut sandpaper. If you haven’t used Tolecut, you are missing the boat big time. The Tolecut is a dry sanding process. So when you get a dent that has a couple of imperfections, you normally would have grabbed a spray bottle full of water and a couple pieces of sandpaper, and made a big mess out of this repair – sanded it flat, then wiped it clean, then polished it. Well, the Tolecut is a Japanese product imported by an American company, and it’s designed to be done dry – no water at all. And that seems weird at first, because it goes contrary to what you’ve been doing for so many years. But I feel the same way. I understand, but trust me. This stuff works.
They’ve got three different grit ratings: pink, green, and a gray or black color. And the finish is phenomenal, especially if you use all three steps, which most people don’t. Most people use just two. But they use just two because it’s expensive to buy. Everybody wants to sell you a giant case of it that, if you sand one dent a week, would last you for about fourteen years. I don’t think you need that much, so we’ve repackaged it into what I think is ideal for a guy who does PDR.
It is five sheets of each color. So it’s forty pieces of each color. Forty different times you’ll get a brand new piece of sandpaper – that’s a lot of sanding. Once every week for forty weeks, with a brand new piece, and you can use a piece five or ten times – so it would really last you probably for a year, unless you sand everything that you work on.
So it comes with three different kinds – 120 sheets total of sandpaper and one little block, altogether in a set, for around 50 bucks. I can pull the price up for you right here. I think it’s 58 bucks. $59.88 – so under 60 bucks and you get the whole entire kit. So, if you’ve been thinking about getting into Tolecut but you didn’t want to spend all the money by buying three cases of 40 pieces of sandpaper, we’ve got your product right here. So super low barrier to entry, and you can have that product on your cart and use it when you need it. Everybody’s switching over to it because it’s so much faster and it’s really clean. The finish is beautiful from it.
So, try out the Tolecut. We call it the Tolecut Complete Kit on our site, and of course we’ll have links in the notes on PDRCollege.com for this episode, where you can just click over to these products and find them. But if you are on BlackPlaguePDR.com and you search, just search for whale tail PDR tape or Tolecut. You’ll see both products that I’m talking about.
I appreciate all of your business. You guys have been loyal to me at Black Plague, and I appreciate that. We’re trying to make stuff to help you make more money all the time. If you have any suggestions about what you’d like me to carry, or if you’d like me to ditch something, let me know. But I think so far everybody loves everything I’ve got, because I haven’t heard any bad feedback. So if you want me to carry something else, holler at me.
But for now take advantage of this offer before I come to my senses. Try Tape is the discount code that will give you the whale tail tape for free if you spend 120 bucks. And I suggest throwing the Tolecut in there as well, because we don’t have too much of it. That’s an uncommon way to package it. I had to pay a little extra to take it all apart and have the warehouse people put it all back together in special little kits. But that’s how I wanted to get it to you, because that’s how I want to buy it. And that’s how I treat everything on this site. So I enjoy the biz. I look forward to getting this stuff in your hands, guys. Talk to you soon.[Omit musical interlude – 08:38 – 08:42]
Keith Cosinteno: I’m Keith Cosinteno. He’s Shane Jacks. And this is the PDR College Podast, your weekly source of inspiration, perspiration, and something else -ation that will help you make more money in the dent repair business. We bring you everything we’ve learned and stuff we want to learn once a week for about an hour – stuff that you can put to work in your dent removal business to help make you more profitable.
Why do we want to be so dang profitable? Because we want tons and tons of cash. But, Shane, why do we want so much cash?
Shane: So that I can pay someone enough money to hold Donald Trump down to shave that head of his.
Keith: I only think you need to cut about two or three strands and the whole thing flops off.
Shane: I saw a joke the other day that said, “We’ve finally got our first black President. It’s time for our first orange one, now.”
Keith: Do you know what’s messed up about calling President Obama a black President?
Shane: He’s not black?
Keith: He’s no more black than he is white.
Shane: Yeah, I know.
Keith: What’s up with that?
Shane: Yeah. You’re trying to get me started on politics now, aren’t you?
Keith: He’s not my favorite President, but how come if you’re half black then you’re black? How come you’re not white?
Shane: I don’t know. Let’s go somewhere else with this.
Keith: I love my black boys – my black brothers – but how come if you’re half-and-half you’ve got to be black? How come you can’t be white?
Shane: I don’t know. I guess it’s kind of like the blue-eyed/brown-eyed thing. The brown gene is dominant. I don’t know.
Keith: Are you talking about those dogs that have one brown and one blue eye? I don’t know what you’re talking about.
Shane: No, the blue-eyed/brown-eyed gene. If you have a brown-eyed gene and a blue-eyed gene, you’re going to be brown-eyed. The brown is always dominant over the blue. That’s just some nerdy stuff I remember from school.
Keith: I didn’t know that. It kind of sounds like you’re trying to make some –
Shane: To have blue eyes, you have to have two blue genes instead of a blue and a brown. A blue and a brown will always turn out brown. Blue is never dominant.
Keith: That’s interesting.
Shane: Yeah. Whatever. What that has to do with PDR, I have no idea – or the color of our President.
Keith: Yeah, the entire show tonight has nothing to do with dent removal, but enjoy. What’s going on in your world?
Shane: It is light in my world right now.
Keith: I mean, generally.
Shane: I know. Generally, just fixing dents, selling tools, and having fun with the family. Last week was actualy not terribly busy. It was the first week in quite some time.
Keith: Not terribly in a good way?
Shane: I’m actually okay with that, yeah. I had a couple of hours Friday that was open and I was okay with that.
Keith: One thing that’s taken me quite a little while to understand as true – obviously, you know Shane and I talk to so many different techs on a personal level now because of the show. Guys have made friends with us or messaged us and we end up getting in conversations and stuff. I am doing a little bit of coaching and we’re interacting with a lot of techs on a pretty intimate scale. We know a lot about what’s going on in their business. There’s a lot of guys out there that aren’t doing nearly as well as they could be doing.
To hear a guy like you say, “I had a slow week and that was good,” I was like, “Yeah, I’m right with you.” I totally get it. My weeks are crazy. To have a week where you only have a handful of calls – you might even have a period of a day where there’s nothing to do – you think it’s actually kind of nice. But there are some guys that that’s such a fairy tale to them. A lot of these guys can fix a dent just as well as anybody, but everything else is messed up – the stinkin’ thinkin’ or the bad marketing or no website or all of the above.
It’s amazing to me. I never thought there would be guys producing as little as they are and still working full-time and seemingly doing the same thing I’m doing but making 20 percent or less of the revenue. That’s been crazy for me to find out, but I’ve seen it enough times that I know it’s real. I know you have, too.
Shane: Oh, yeah. A lot of it is self-imposed with a lot of those guys. I guess you could argue that it’s all self-imposed. But if you’re in a bad market, yeah you can get out of that market. But a lot of times – that’s what this podcast is here for and the other avenues out there to learn are there for. We’re trying to help guys get out of that. I enjoy that. I had an hour or an hour-and-a-half long conversation a few weeks back with one of our listeners. It was a really good conversation. He used what I had said with an wholesale account and he said it went a lot better doing what I said. He was okay learning.
You and I are okay learning, also. We don’t know everything, Keith. We’ve said that before. We’re not above learning. I learn something every stinking day – or I hope to learn something every stinking day. And that’s what this is here for. I’ve learned a ton through teaching.
Keith: I have, too. It’s crazy that our show is really the first thing to come out in the industry that has consistent information geared towards everything but the actual repair of dents. There are tons of guys out there that will train you to do dents and do advanced training. There are guys who’ll do your website and all of that stuff, but nobody really put anybody on the right track with a theory of running the company and where it’s going and what kind of work you’re going to do. Nobody touches all of the other stuff. And it’s the thing that makes or breaks everybody.
Shane: Yeah, the dent repair – you can get by with a ton of skill. You can make money. You’ll get calls to do hail and you can do stuff in the area for retail and wholesale work. Even in a small town, if you’re the only guy who can do killer work on big stuff, you’re going to get work. But are you maximizing your profits? No. That’s where I was a few years back. But that’s not the way to go. So with sheer skill, you can get somewhere, just not as far as you can with the sales skills, marketing skills, and phone skills.
I’m not throwing that out there lightly, Keith. The phone skills course you have out there now is necessary. If you have all of it and are the entire package, you can make so much more money. Just relying on skill doesn’t cut it anymore.
Keith: It sure doesn’t. This year is the year we’re really trying to take all of this help and training and take it to the next level. We quadrupled the size of the seminar and we’re going to build the membership form before the year is out. All of this stuff, we’re finally gearing up to really make a big impact for everyone out there, not just for ourselves. If everything goes well, it will be a great business for us, but the point of it is to help as many guys as we can get out of these ruts. It’s one thing to listen to podcasts and another thing to really take it to the next level and actively work on changing all of that stuff.
Shane: Yeah, it’s a big difference. I had to go through it a few years back. I’m still going through it.
Keith: Correct me if I’m wrong, but even the year you won the Olympics, your retail business really ramped up the following year.
Shane: Yes, 2014.
Keith: You were doing okay before that but it was right around the same time, if my memory serves, that you really started to drink my Kool-Aid and alter your pricing a little bit and started to knock down some Cali numbers in the South. That’s when everything started breaking open for you and started to get stupid.
Shane: Yeah, it was the last quarter of 2013-ish. And then when we started this podcast – I had started drinking the Kool-Aid before then. And even in 2013 early I was doing it a little bit. I’m still not where I need to be, but I’m doing a lot better. I still let the old Shane creep back in every now and then.
Keith: That’s what she said.
Shane: Oh, that was only hilarious because I’ve never heard you say that, I don’t think.
Keith: Not on the show anyway.
Shane: Exactly. Today we’re going to talk about what we’ve learned at one venue in the PDR world – the Mobile Tech Expo. The Five Things We Have Learned at the Mobile Tech Expo.
Keith: Yeah, we’ve encountered so many different people and we try to direct them all to the place that kind of started it all for us. First, Shane and I met online and then we met in person at Mobile Tech Expo. We were able to meet a bunch of other guys and really start building the connections that evolved into what we’re doing today. People have asked me, “Why should I go? What’s so great about it?” So I decided we would come up with a list of five things that we learned from attending the Mobile Tech Expo and answer the question.
Everybody says you should go because you want to meet a lot of other guys and see the tools in person and compete in the dent Olympics, or at least see a level of competition. That’s basically their whole answer, which is good. But I figure we can dig a little deeper than that.
Shane: Oh, yeah. Just in yours and my relationship, we could go an hour about it and relationships we’ve made with other guys and evolved my thinking, at least. It opened up a whole new world for me, honestly.
Keith: It did. Some of the stuff will be in our list of five, but some things are way more fake than you thought they were and some things are way more real. You get to see – it’s hard to BS somebody in person.
Shane: It is. Let’s just get into it.
Keith: So Shane and I both have each other’s list and we’re going to ask each other about our answers and give deeper answers than what’s written here on the paper. So your first one on the list of five things you learned by attending the MTE – the Mobile Tech Expo – in Orlando, Florida in January. Your number one is that there is a thirst for knowledge. Tell me about that.
Shane: Well, back before I went to my first MTE – I don’t even remember the year – 2010, maybe?
Keith: You went before I ever went.
Shane: I was in this little world by myself and then got on doording.com and found out there was a bunch of other guys. I go down to Mobile Tech Expo and I see a lot more people than I thought would be there. It was a lot smaller at that point. It was fairly big but a lot smaller than it is now. I’ve seen it grow over the years. I’ve seen things coming into it, like the free seminars they put on. They put on different seminars on Thursday, Education Day, if you’ve never been. You guys that have been know what I’m talking about.
They are little 30 minute to one hour segments where you can learn stuff about the industry. They asked me to teach one in 2012 and 2013 and I was overwhelmed with the response. I saw that thirst for knowledge and you pointed it out to me. You were like, “These guys want to learn what you know.” “Holy crap. Really? Why?” But there is a thirst for knowledge. We’ve seen that through guys coming up to our booth. Even if they’re not buying stuff, they’re asking us questions and we’re more than happy to answer those questions for those guys within a reasonable amount of time. Of course, we do have to sell our product, obviously.
The success of the seminar last year that we put on before Mobile Tech Expo – there’s a thirst for knowledge. There’s a reason for that thirst. It’s being driven a group of people – that’s kind of my second thing I learned there so we’ll leave that out of it for right now. But you can see it. Anybody who opens their eyes can see there’s a thirst for knowledge among a lot of these techs. Some of them are too hardheaded to learn, but this new group wants to learn and push the envelope.
Keith: Yeah, and this thirst for knowledge is started and continued to be fueled by the Internet. That’s kind of a generic thing to say. It sounds like I’m an old man, but I don’t just mean the Internet. It’s the way guys are using it. They’re connecting on a deeper level with other technicians and asking more candid questions. They’re showing their repairs before and after and talking about how they got to them. You see that there are some guys out there that are bonkers good. And then you see your own work and it’s not that good. You think, “Holy smokes. There’s a better way to do it and I’ve got to figure out how it is. I’ve got to know something these guys know.”
Shane: To know it, you’ve got to learn it. You have to push yourself to learn it. Keith, your first one is how to make connections with other techs.
Keith: To me, that’s the main thing that the Mobile Tech Expo is all about. It’s not really about seeing the tools or the Education Day. All of that stuff is tool, but with a dent tool, you’ve got to use it before you know whether you like it or not. You can see it all you want. That was never that big of a draw to me to see the tools, honestly. I figured if I could see it online or see it in person it was almost the same thing. I want to use it. That’s when I’ll really know.
But making connections with other technicians – the only place you can really do that and everybody is on a neutral playing field. It’s nobody’s home turf. Nobody is posturing and trying to tell you, “Don’t come into this town. It’s my spot.” We’re all from different places congregating here with one common theme. We bend sheet metal for a living. So how to make connection with these guys – if you’re coming for the first time, you might think, “Well, yeah. There’s a bunch of dent guys there but I don’t know how to talk to them or how to make friends with them.” You kind of learn that skill by doing it a bunch.
So learning how to make connections there with other techs has been the biggest thing for me. Those relationships are the ones that – you’re going to meet a lot of people. Ten percent of them are going to be clowns. Thirty percent of them are going to be guys you’ll want to continue to know after you leave. Once you exchange contact information and you’re fostering these relationships between the events themselves, from one year to the next, then you come back and they’re introducing you to their circle of buddies. Then you can grow a really tight network.
Even for a guy like me who is never going to chase any hail anywhere – because that’s the main reason. If you’re a hail guy, you’re a fool not to go and make connections there. But even for a guy like me, it’s really nice to have your own little network of guys who are in totally different markets around the world and you’re able to call them and say, “Hey, what’s going on over here?” Have you ever worked on this? Just guys that are on the phone, not guys that are on the Internet – it’s nice to be talking to people on the actual phone.
And those connections start there in person. They see you and hang out for a little while, you share a meal together and have a conversation, and it goes there. But learning how to do that has a little bit of a skill to it. You only learn it by trying it and doing it – and seeing guys doing it wrong. “Nobody wants to talk to that dude.”
Shane: What was telling in what you just said – everybody listening, seven out of ten of you, Keith will not want to speak to? I’m just kidding. That 30 percent that you said is honestly a surprise to me every year I go. Even the first year, I thought, “Oh, man. There is going to be two guys out of a hundred that’s not going to be an idiot.” It’s just not true. There are more than two guys out of a hundred that are not idiots. It was a pleasant surprise to me that that 30 percent actually exists and it’s not the two percent.
But making those connections is huge, especially if you’re in hail. Honestly, some of the guys I’ve seen online, I’m thinking, “That guy is a fruit loop.” And then you meet him in person and he’s a great guy. Another guy, you might think, “He’s got his head screwed on right,” and the first time he asks you is where all the strip joints are in Orlando. So you really get to know the people, aside from just an online personality, and get to know who they are.
Keith: And that’s what it is. It’s an online personality. They’re never really exactly who they are. Some people are, but it’s very rare. So your next one is that the thirst for knowledge is being driven by the younger techs who are crushing it.
Shane: And there is a reason for that. I’ve spoken to that reason several times on the podcast. The culture is changing. These young techs are coming in hungrier than the older techs because the older techs have their base of dealerships and retail clients or hail clients – guys they run with in the hail world. They have that base.
Keith: They can be a little lazy.
Shane: But these young techs, just having the skill is not going to cut it anymore. The marketing, especially if you’re new to the industry, you’re going to have to be better than the next guy, period. That’s it. It’s not just skill. It’s not just the dent skills you’re going to have to have to be better than the next guy. You’re going to have to have every other skill. So when I say there’s a thirst for knowledge in my first one, it’s less about the actual dent skills and tools in hand. That is a part of it, but the skills for the stuff like we teach here – that thirst is being pushed by these younger guys. Do you agree, Keith?
Keith: I agree. But I’ve got to tell you that my opinion is that the dent skills are a huge factor. These younger guys, the first time they heard of PDR was on a YouTube video, so the information was already all over the place. When you and I first heard of it, it came out of black and white catalogues and was underground, fight club stuff. But when these guys hear about it, everything’s already out there in the open. So when they’re coming up in a market against some veteran guys, you better believe these new guys know every brand new tool that’s out and if it’s a good one they’ve got it.
Your Edge Jacks hit the market, and then two weeks later all these guys have them. If it’s a cutting edge tool, they have it. Obviously, we’re not selling parts to the space shuttle here. They’re just dent removal tools, but they’re tools that do stuff that you couldn’t do before – like glue pulling a big long crease. You couldn’t do it before and now we’ve got the Black Plague Tabs and manipulating the edge of a panel with a mini lifter. So all of these excuses that these older techs have, because of tooling issues – “Oh, you can’t get into there. That’s double walled” – is all out the window when these new hungry guys show up. They’ve seen all of the solutions already.
There are very few areas left on a car that you flat-out can’t do. There’s a way to get to just about everything now. A couple of small sections –
Shane: I gained a huge account back in 2009 because a local guy who’d been doing this for 25 years “did not glue pull.” I did a rail, secured the account, and now they’re massive for me. It’s a body shop that sends me a ton of hail cars and just regular work every year.
Keith: So if you look at it like that – you get hail every couple of years. It’s relatively consistent. And if it’s a big shop that’s sending you 10 hail cars a year, maybe more than that –
Shane: Yeah, way more. At least 30-40 a year.
Keith: Let’s just call it 30 at $5,000 a pop, for a couple of years, how much did that one job cost this dude by not getting that rail out? Half a million dollars?
Shane: Well, he didn’t charge enough. It could have cost him half a million bucks. But I see your point. Yeah.
Keith: But those aren’t fake numbers. That’s real. That’s how that happened. So these new guys coming up have all the tools that everyone should have. They know they need that advantage because they don’t have the experience. They’re hungry and they know what’s up. It’s kind of scary. They don’t have anywhere else to be for the afternoon, so they’re happy to camp out on that one dent until it’s done. The new guys are going to be shaking everything up in the next five years. You vets who are getting lazy had better get your act together – Shane and I included.
Shane: They’ll pass you if they already haven’t. That’s right, Keith. Your number two was where you stood quality wise because of competing in the dent Olympics.
Keith: Yes, that was a big one for me. You get a little bit of a big head sometimes in your own local market when you’re the top dog or one of the big guys. You’re not the new guy anymore. You’re the heavy hitter. You and I occupy the same space in our respective markets. So you start to drink your own Kool-Aid after a while and say, “Well, everybody here has traveled all over for work and they keep coming back and telling me I’m the best guy they’ve ever seen. There’s a pretty good chance that I’m actually the best guy anyone’s ever seen. That’s all I keep hearing after a while. So I’m going to go out for this dent Olympic thing and I’m going to blow some of these guys’ receding hairlines right back when I take the championship on my first try.”
And then you get out there and you think, “Whoa, that’s actually a pretty deep dent.” And it’s not the kind of dent you do that often. It’s a super round, deep dent. Usually, if it’s that deep on a retail route, it has some kind of crease element to it –
Shane: Sharp, yeah.
Keith: – from a door edge. But unless it got shot with a BB or hit with hail, you don’t really do those kinds of dents very often. So you get a little nervous but think, “Okay, I can fix this dent.” And I had all of the tools I needed. Everything was going great. I was on my first repair. And back then, you could do two dents and that was a strategy everybody did. They bought two dents. I think it was more of a strategy to make money on the competition, to double the admission price for each guy, than it was for the actual competition results. They eventually killed that rule and now you get one dent only, which I think is better. As a competitor, it was better to have two because you could try some techniques out in the first one.
But that was the rules and what everyone did and I did that, too. I’m fixing the dent and the repair is looking really nice. When I’m done, it’s nice but it isn’t perfect. I have an issue getting this tiny little spot completely flat. For my dent, there was a little bit of stretch in it. It wanted to flop up and down. But we’re talking something that’s so micro – whether it’s up or down – it’s rolling and everybody’s happy with it anywhere I do work. But when you throw the light 40 feet away and look at it, yeah it’s a little high. And then you go to tap it down and then it flops and it’s just a hair low. I just couldn’t get it to sit perfect.
So I knew I wasn’t going to win, but I didn’t even come in at the top 10. Some guy was blowing smoke and told me I was 13 or something, but then come to find out he told everybody they were 13th.
Shane: “Did you compete in the dent Olympics?” “No.” “Well, you placed 13th.”
Keith: Right there next to Keith. But I knew it was a good repair, no matter what anyone scored it. I would’ve been happy to ship it on a retail customer and everybody would’ve flipped and told me it was great. It was good. But in that environment, it wasn’t good enough to win. So that was huge for me. I was able to know there was another level I still need to get to. There were way more guys who ruined their dents and did poorer repairs than mine, but there were some guys who did better repairs. Arguably, it’s the same 12 guys – ish – every year. There are probably 25 guys that keep rotating through and trade those spots around in the top 10.
But it didn’t matter to me. To me, it’s a big group and I wanted to be part of it so I needed to know what they’re doing differently and all that kind of stuff. I know a lot of guys don’t compete, and to me it’s because they’re afraid of what they’re going to find out. They say, “I don’t pay to fix dents. I get paid to fix dents.” I get that. But it’s really a good personal development exercise to see how you operate under pressure and where you stand with these other guys, who also think they’re the best in their markets. They all think they’re going to win.
So I liked that. I thought it was fantastic. I figured out I was good, but I wasn’t the best. It was humbling and opened my mind a little bit to the fact that I can always learn more. There is always another level to get to. And even if you win that thing, like Shane has – he’s still listening to other technicians and trying new techniques and seeing if they work for him. It’s a constant evolution in this game. That was big for me – where I stood quality wise with other techs.
Shane: And just as a side note, Keith has kind of bashed himself here. I’ve watched this dude glue pull an exact mechanism with the same PSI setting of the dent Olympics –
Keith: Same model car, too.
Shane: – and I watched him glue pull one to – if you’d had another 20 minutes, maybe –
Keith: Or a piece of Tolecut.
Shane: Dude, this thing was absolutely flat. This is really hard for me to say, Keith, but I don’t think I could’ve got that thing that flat with glue. And that’s not easy for me to admit. Where you stood – maybe it was the pressure. I don’t know. That’s why you didn’t finish top five.
Keith: There’s an element of the luck of the draw, too. As much as they put work into making the dents the same, they’re never going to be the same because they’re different parts of the door and everything else. But the first year my dent was in a spot that wasn’t great. But the second year, I was like, “Dude, if I’m ever going to win, this is the spot.” Front of the back door on the higher row. So I had the window and the electrical port. I could work it from both directions. This was the dent to win on. And conversely, if I didn’t win with this one, I’m out. They just slid a little plate of gravy right over to me and I still had a little stretch in the bottom of it.
So there’s a technique that you do that I don’t know how to do yet. I best believe when – last year when you taught on the dent Olympic door, I was engaged doing something else. But this year, we have so many other co-trainers that I am going to be in the audience when you’re showing the dent Olympic repair technique. You made it flat and won and I was not able to. There’s something I’m doing different than you are, so I’m excited to see that.
Shane: There’s some pressure.
Keith: So your third item is that innovations are happening quickly.
Shane: Yes, they are. Just think back – all of you. Three or four years ago, where lighting was – three years ago the first true LED light came out. There were some others out, but they weren’t that good. It might’ve around 2009-2010. When those first LED lights came out from Pro PDR, and now we’re seeing other companies come out with these lights – like the Elim A Dent light that has come out that’s basically indestructible.
Keith: Carl Stuckey’s got a redone version.
Shane: Cordless glue guns are happening. The Edge Jack, your glue, your tabs, the Black Plague tabs pulling creases – either impossible or took 10 times as long before. Nothing else can pull a tight line like those Black Plague Crease Tabs. You can say you can get it up with other glue tabs that are shorter, but you can’t pull it tight.
Keith: And you can, it just takes forever.
Shane: Yeah, but they don’t pull it tight. And yours will pull a tighter line and pull a little bit more of the “stretch” out. I’ll argue with anybody all day long about that. So the innovations that are happening in the last few years are rapid. Again, I look back to the thirsty techs. Competition creates innovation. You’re searching for a faster way to do X or Y because of competition. That can be an internal thing. I want to make as much money as possible compared to what I did last year, and if I can find a tool that’s going to help me make more money quicker, then I’m going to do that.
I’m not just pimping this because it’s mine, but that Edge Jack, you can literally fix an edge dent 10 times faster than you could before and with more accuracy. That’s more money, period. These innovations are happening because of that. It’s a necessity. The more guys that get in – you can look at it as a bad thing. But you can also look at it that you’re going to get better and more tools if there are more people in your market.
Keith: Yeah. A lot of guys say, “Don’t train anybody else. There are enough guys in the market. Stop training people.” But you always like to point out, even since before I knew you, “When did that opinion start? The day after you were trained?” Why is it okay for you to get trained and then nobody else? Because you’re trained we should cap it off?
Shane: That’s where I have a luxury since I’ve been doing it since October of ’94. There are very few guys who can come back on me when I say, “All right, everybody after October of ’94 get the flip out of my industry.” There are very few who can come back and go, “Oh, yeah?” Tom Price and a few more can say it, but it’s a stupid statement.
Keith: I brought it up because I’ve had a lot of success with my little tab company. And then everybody else is getting into the tab business and I’m like, “Man, that’s all we need is 14 more tabs.” But nobody thought they needed anymore tabs before mine were made, either. We already had 15 different brands before I brought mine out. So why the heck should everybody stop innovating now just because I’ve brought something that works? “Okay, I’ve got good tables. Y’all can just stop.”
It’s not the best thing for the market. The best thing for the market is for everybody to continue to try to come up with something even better. It’s going to force more innovation for me as well as everybody else. That makes us a better industry and makes better technicians. But when it’s in your backyard, you don’t want it. Get out of here.
Shane: And it’s okay to admit that.
Keith: I know.
Shane: I don’t want anybody to come up with anything that I’ve done either that competes with what I’ve done. Your number three, Keith, was that blending is real.
Keith: That was a big thing for me. The second time I came out there –
Shane: Yeah, it was Corpus Christi and I didn’t make it to that one.
Keith: The next year, we were able to meet in person. Flying out there, it was one of the things I was most looking forward to. I still didn’t believe you. We hadn’t met in person yet, but I knew you enough online to know that you don’t make stuff up. Everything you say is truthful and you love to argue things that are truthful. But then you had this big lie about being able to take dents out with a hammer. I’m like, “I can’t figure this dude out. Everything else he tells the truth about except this.” So I said –
Shane: Now, let me set the stage after this seminar that I taught. Keith is standing at the back of the room and his arms are crossed. You could not be any more non-open –
Shane: They were. They were closed to me, son. Was Jared there?
Keith: I think he was.
Shane: He had his hands by his side or in his pockets or whatever. He was kind of grinning at me. You had this look on your face. You’re a little bit of a – I guess, since we’d already known each other –
Keith: Hey, I’m bringing it up, aren’t I?
Shane: – so you were a little bit guarded. I’ll remember it because with you preaching about body language and everything, you were completely – it was nothing like what you teach. But continue on.
Keith: Obviously, I’m saying a lot of this tongue in cheek. We were buddies online and I knew that you wouldn’t be coming all the way out here and standing behind something so much if it wasn’t going to be real. But I just needed to see it to really know for myself. You’re the same way. You’ll believe a lot of things –
Shane: Oh yeah.
Keith: – but you need to see it.
Shane: I want to see it.
Keith: I just couldn’t wait to see it. And we went out to my rental van. We had a white Dodge Caravan and you put a couple of palm strikes in the rail – or some soft tips from a hammer or something – and you did your magic and blended those out. I think there was even a crown on the lift gate from somebody pushing too hard on the license plate opening and you were showing how you use the hammer for crown work as well. And that was less impressive to me because I understood that. That makes sense. You can whack it down.
I knew I wouldn’t be able to whack it down clean, but I figured you could because you’d been holding a hammer for 20 years. And that was before you had your custom hammer. That was an off-the-shelf hammer. But that was big for me. I saw that blending was real. A lot of guys that still don’t understand it come to the show and let guys show you that it’s real. There are varying skill levels. Sometimes it’s real and sometimes it’s real bad. But you’ve got to see it.
It’s not just for blending; it’s for everything. There are guys there that don’t have any friends back at home and they’d love to go out in the parking lot and show you what they do for X, Y, and Z. Take your gutter jokes away from that statement. But that was big for me.
Shane: I wasn’t even thinking that.
Keith: I know you weren’t, but you guys were who are listening.
Shane: I’m probably just too tired, honestly.
Shane: Normally, I would.
Keith: Your fourth one is that the MTE is growing and is growing the mobile recon biz along with it.
Shane: This is something I’m learning over time. That’s a broad statement, but it’s because it strikes me how big it’s getting. Now we have one in Europe, in England, and this thing is just getting more popular –
Keith: Oh, I’ve got to interrupt you for just a second. I’ve never been over there, but I was talking to somebody. Forgive me, my UK people, for not remembering exactly who it was. They were asking about you and I coming over to do a seminar in the UK. You’ve been to Germany once, but I’ve never been to Europe at all.
Shane: No, I’ve never been to Germany.
Keith: Oh, I thought you went back when you were working.
Keith: No, they came here. That’s how big of a deal you are, the Germans bring their stuff here for you. So I said I’d never been to Europe. And he said something along the lines of, “Hang on, now. We’re talking about the UK, not Europe.” I was like, “You’ve got to understand that for us it’s all like the same thing.” But I’ve got to recognize after that that they’re in their own little island and that’s a different story. That’s not Europe yet. It’s the UK. Don’t lump them in. Apparently, they get mad.
Shane: Sorry. I apologize.
Keith: These blokes are – I don’t know the UK expression for being mad. Something about bullocks.
Shane: I’m sorry. I really am.
Keith: So we’re not coming to Europe. We’re coming to the UK.
Keith: Just like Europe, only much smaller and they speak the same language.
Shane: There you went again.
Keith: I said nothing about the teeth. Not a word.
Shane: Oh man. Back to the topic before somebody gets on a plane to Sacramento from the UK. EMT is growing and it’s growing the mobile recon industry with it. That’s part of the innovation driving, also, and the thirst for knowledge. Things are growing rapidly with the Mobile Tech Expo. It’s exciting to see. It’s fun to be a part of it, too.
Keith: We’re so busy with dent repair stuff that I never even get to participate in all the other stuff that’s going on there. There is a big crew of detail nerds that are there, who don’t care anything about dents. There are paint touchup guys and interior repair guys who are all there, too. It’s mostly dent guys, but it’s not like 90 percent and 10 percent. It’s maybe 50 percent dent guys and then 20 and 20 and 10 of the other guys. That’s how it seems to me. But they’ve got all of this other competition going on and I’ve never even seen it.
They do an interior repair competition. I’ve never even seen it. I don’t even know where it takes place. They do a paint repair competition – same thing. I never even saw competitors setting up and doing anything because the schedule is so full of stuff to do for dents and you’re trying to network with guys and go have a lunch or dinner, you can’t see it all. And it’s a tiny show compared to a big giant mega trade show.
But all of those guys are getting better as well. They’re all leveling up. Some of them have multiple trades, including PDR, so their tools are getting fortified by the experience there. But everyone is getting better all the time. I see that they come out with new technology, but I don’t do those trades so it doesn’t mean anything to me that there’s a new HVLV gun or some new window repair technology. I’m never going to do anything with that stuff so I don’t look that closely and I don’t know why it’s better. But I know they keep evolving as well.
Shane: Yep. It’s exciting. It’s really cool. Your number four, Keith, is that you and I can add a lot of value.
Keith: Yeah, it sounds like a pompous thing to say. But it’s one of the things I learned from being there. I thought everybody knew everything I knew. I didn’t think I was holding as much unique knowledge in my mind as I was. I figured if I knew all of this stuff then pretty much everybody else did, too.
I shared a little bit online before we started going to the show, when I thought I could add value. And I think I did on a couple of different occasions. But then when we really started going and getting to know guys and asking deeper questions and getting the same questions back from 10 different guys asking the same question, I thought, “We have a duty to share what we know and help these guys out.” They want to know and just don’t. They don’t know how to price something. They don’t know how to structure their website. They don’t know any of this stuff. They just know a couple of things and they’re getting by.
I learned that you and I can help a lot of people be happier at work and make more money, and that’s super cool to me. So it’s not like I’m on a high horse and think that I’m so great I can add a lot of value. But I know there are a lot of guys out there who can benefit from the stuff that I know.
Shane: You came into this with a completely – back in the door ding days when we first met at MTE – I guess it was late 2012-ish. We were speaking on the phone and I remember it like it was yesterday. You said, “You know, I thought there were a hundred other guys out there doing the same stuff I did. I’m learning that’s just not the case.” You were more surprised than anything.
Keith: I really was.
Shane: I knew you had unique knowledge because you were teaching me 11 million things – most of it a lot more harshly than you choose to teach on the podcast or in your little phone skills thing. You’re all jovial with them. He’s pretty stern with me, fellas.
Keith: The more I like you, the harsher I am.
Shane: Yeah, it’s a brotherly love thing. Plus, I think that’s the only way I learn, is when somebody is stern with me. But you and I actually started talking about banding together and giving this knowledge out to guys. Each of us has our areas where we’re uniquely gifted in. I know that sounds pompous also, but it’s the truth. I just want to help other guys. You want to learn from me and I want to learn from you and I want to learn from the guys I’m teaching.
My brother helped me teach a class – and he’s only a year and a half or two years into PDR. He was just standing back and telling them when they would screw up. After that training was over, he said, “Bird, I learned more doing that than I did when you were training me.” That’s my nickname to my family. I was like, “What?” He learned more training other people and watching them screw up than he did – he probably didn’t learn more but he grew more during that time. And that’s the truth. When you’re teaching somebody, you have to vet out your ideas and you learn a ton yourself. So Keith and I have learned just as much as you guys have.
Keith: We sure have. I knew the numbers I was doing when I started getting online – it was around a $20,000 month. I thought, “Man, I need to find these dudes that are doing the 40s and 50s.” Nobody really wanted to have that conversation online. Everybody kept shooting me down. It was like, “Hey, that’s not classy. It’s our business and not your business.” I’m like, “What are you talking about? That’s the only reason we do this trade, to make money. Let’s talk some money.” And all of these old boys just kept poo-pooing me. I could never get to that place online where everybody felt open sharing that information.
So I had to have these conversations in person. You can’t just come right out with that. You have to get to know somebody a little bit. So I’d find a guy who looked like he had his act together and start talking about what he was doing and then figure, “Okay, this guy’s busy doing the same kind of work I do.” So what’s a good month, a good day, a good week for you?” And I never found those guys who were doing 40 or 50 – or at least would tell me about it. And I was talking to hail guys because that’s a totally different business. Those numbers can be big but then they get all chopped up and there’s travel expenses. It’s not the same equation.
I meant guys that are at home running a business and are going to stay in one place. I never found them. Over the years, I’ve found a couple here and there, but I started to realize everyone wanted to know how I was doing the numbers I was doing. I kind of went away scratching my head because I didn’t think I was that great. I still don’t. I was there looking for the guy that was going to show me how to double my income. And I never found him.
So I thought, “Man, I’m the guy then. I guess I’ve got to show these guys how to double theirs because you’re sucking. You’re doing $6,000-$7,000 and I’m doing $20,000. It sounds like we’re doing the same thing? Where’s the disconnect? Where are you screwing up?” So I ended up just wanting to help more guys. But I was still kind of bummed out that I never found the guy to show me how to double my income. I figured it out. I still think he’s out there.
That’s one of the reason we wanted to start the Inner Circle, to get all the super high-level guys together in one special little place where everything is safe and you can share your numbers. Nobody’s running outside of the circle and we can help each other get to the next level. That is still going to happen so I can meet the guy who’s going to help me double what I’m doing. I know those guys are out there. Some of them just aren’t comfortable talking, showing their underpants, online. They need to be in a more intimate scenario.
So we have value to add and we’re happy to add it. So your number five is that sheer skill – and I think you mean dent removal skill – won’t cut it anymore.
Shane: Yeah, I kind of eluded to that earlier. A lot of mine mesh together, but again, you’ve got to take it to the next level, fellas. There are two guys in my mind right now that have been doing this a long, long, long time who have a ton of PDR skill and they’re just not killing it like they used to. They’re old dogs and they refuse to learn new tricks. That’s it.
Keith: Is one of them your friend Jeff?
Shane: No. I don’t know what kind of numbers he does. He’s not one, though. I’m not going to say names. I’ve had a discussion with one of them, trying to turn him on a few ideas. It’s just not happening, dude. Nope.
Keith: The new guys are hungry and they know everything. Could you imagine if you had 88 episodes an hour long when you started your career, to tell you how to run your company and how to price it? And it’s not even how you have to but, “Hey, here’s a baseline. Go ahead and make it even better than this. Here’s what will get you a moderate level of success. Now figure out how to make it even better yourself.”
It’s so dumb the way the industry worked before. It was designed to keep it stupid. “Here’s how you fix something. Now, go out there and figure out the rest.”
Shane: Go fix it, boy.
Keith: Based on your extensive training in high school – or whatever stupid trade you did before – because very few guys went from getting an MBA and got into PDR. It doesn’t really go down like that usually. It’s more like, “Well, I started off sweeping. And then I was fixing the gutters and then they needed somebody to fix them dents so I got the training. Now I do that. And then I quit to go on my own.” And that’s it, man.
Shane: We’ve got to change or it’s just not – the smarts just weren’t there. But it’s coming up with the younger guys. They’re too hungry to not be smart.
Keith: And even outside of our trade, there’s so much information online, that if these guys are hungry they’re going to find answers to all of these questions. We had to be pioneers in our micro industry by figuring out how to list our business on Google Maps. Now, these guys know all of the tricks and everything’s on a higher level. If you’re coming in now, it’s a good time to start into the trade. But it’s also very competitive.
Shane: You’re going to have to do something different. Keith, your number five is that there are a lot of PDR techs out there – and I’ll let you finish it.
Keith: And they are generally really good guys – and some are weird as heck. Most of the guys we meet are really cool guys. Of course, there are some oddballs. There’s always going to be. But there are many more techs out there than I thought there were. There are two ways to look at it. On the one hand, when I look at everybody at the Mobile Tech Expo, I think, “Okay, if they’re all here, that’s not a lot.” But the fact of the matter is, they’re not all there. Not even close. There’re probably 10 percent of the guys there – if that.
Shane: If that, yeah.
Keith: But those 10 percent are the guys that take it serious enough to get their butts on a plane and go to Florida just for dent removal. So you’re going to be in really good company. And there are a lot of guys who will do that. You’re seeing guys half an hour or 40 minutes away from you that you meet there because you have a lanyard with your name and your hometown on it, if you choose to have it. So you can kind of look and go, “Oh, shoot. You’re from just around the corner from me.” But you’ve never heard of the guy and have never seen him before. He’s never heard of you or seen you – and there they are. You meet in Florida when you’re 3,000 miles from your house.
There are a lot of guys out there, and if they’re at the show you’re probably going to get along with them for the most part. They’re excited about the industry, you are, too. You make a good connection with another guy and share some skills and everybody gets better together.
And some guys are super weird. There are some characters out there. I was telling Shane, before we started the recording, there are some guys that I’m thinking, “You’re for sure hired by someone to portray a dent repair guy,” because in no reality could I picture them actually working in my field. The guys are like two and a half times my age. I don’t even understand how this works. How can you do this? But they’re out there. There are some weird dudes. But that’s what makes it fun.
Shane: Yep. Without the weird ones, we wouldn’t be the normal ones.
Keith: I promise you we’re the weird ones. Not in that way, but we are weird because we’re up at night making a podcast about dent removal. That’s weird.
Shane: That is a little different.
Keith: There’s not a lot of guys doing that – for good reason. So that’s our lists of five. Those are some pretty awesome things we both learned by being present at MTE. In case you didn’t get the picture, we suggest that you attend Mobile Tech Expo every year, and the other shows. Now there’s a UK show that’s going to be a regular occurrence, and a Germany show that I’ve never been to – but I’d like to. I don’t speak German.
Shane: I speak very little. I can ask for where the toilet is and where the food is.
Keith: And you can tell them if it’s high or low – boily or telly [68:01].
Shane: Boily or telly, yeah.
Keith: Which is probably completely wrong. One thing I haven’t talked about in a while since we’ve been running our precut commercial is the ReconPro software I continue to use every day.
Keith: As some of you keen listeners have figured out or heard, we had a quasi-local hail storm here a couple of months ago. It’s just about wrapped up now; it’s petered out. But I called in a buddy of mine to do all of the work as a contractor. I didn’t have time to do it. All I had to do was get him on ReconPro and all of a sudden I’ve got all of his numbers in the computer as soon as he enters them after he’s done with the car. Super easy.
We actually used the PDR Estimate app to write the estimates and we used ReconPro for billing. That was kind of a trial for me because Shane had been telling me how I needed to try out PDR Estimate and see how it was for hail damage. There were some things about it that I really like and some things that I just think are crazy and I don’t like. ReconPro also has a hail component but I have never used it. It just doesn’t hail here – and now we’ve had a hail storm two hours from my place, which still isn’t here.
I can’t speak to the functionality of the ReconPro hail environment, but there is one that’s an add-on and has a matrix you can create and everything in between. You can use all of the custom I use on a retail basis. So I still believe it’s one of, if not the, best solutions. And part of it is because of the team of people behind it. It’s not just a PDR tech who also makes software and is helping you at night. This is what these guys do. This is their full-time gig, this specific software and a couple of others that are related to it. So when you have something go wrong, you have a team of nerds on the other side working hard to fix it.
And stuff breaks once in a while. There are a lot of moving parts. Nothing is perfect, especially when you’re syncing from one program to another when you put it into QuickBooks. If you change some setting and it doesn’t know, something might go haywire. But it’s always fixed same day or next day because there is a team of guys doing it. So I believe in that aspect of it quite a bit. I use it. I think you should at least give it a shot. Once you’re on the system, the paperwork side of the business becomes nonexistent. It’s very easy to resubmit invoice copies, to look up previous work history – all of the stuff you would want to do that you just couldn’t do with a stack of paper.
So check it out for yourself. ReconPro by Auto Mobile Technologies – you can set up a demo with them and they can run through it and show you what’s going on. But I’m not getting rid of it anytime soon. That’s how I run my company and I’ll continue to grow with it because it makes dollars and that makes sense.
Shane: Good stuff.
Keith: I enjoyed the show today, Shane. Thank you for hanging out late. I had a crazy schedule today, so Shane had to accommodate mine. I appreciate that.
Shane: It was my pleasure.
Keith: Oh, I had a photo caption contest on Facebook. Did you look at that?
Shane: I saw a few of the answers. I just glanced at it.
Keith: I’m pulling it up now. You’re hearing it live here. It’s at the very top of the PDR College Podcast Community Group. So if you’re not a part of that, go get in it. That’s where we’re having some serious and sometimes fun conversation. I posted this photo I snapped while I was at one of my dealers. I actualy know this guy. He’s a really good guy. I don’t know what the hell he was doing, but he was completely laying down on the table with his legs suspended in the air like he was dead. It’s a caption contest so I said to give me your best captions.
The two winners were Gerald Miller and Dave Streen. I’m pulling them up now to see exactly what they were.[Omit pause – 73:10 – 73:19]
Keith: Okay, Dave Streen said, “After realizing that the vulture approach was turning off customers, dealerships are trying the opposite – hiding behind walls and laying down really shows our commitment to a no pressure approach.” Dave made me laugh. And Miller’s was, “Hey, Bob. Lay down is just an expression.”
Shane: I didn’t read a whole lot of them. That’s good.
Keith: Those were early on.
Shane: Congratulations, you two.
Keith: I love a caption contest, especially for a goofy photo. So check it out on the PDR Community College Podcast Community. We have a little fun there, but really just trying to continue the conversation from the podcast and talk with other guys who know what the show is about and want to talk about serious stuff. I think so far that community has been just like that. It’s been pretty serious questions and guys know that in this environment we’re trying to talk business and get better instead of just posting goofy stuff about dogs eating pizza and everything else – not that I’m against a good joke here and there.
Fellas, we’ve enjoyed the time with you. We look forward to spending the next hour with you next week. Until then –
Shane: Get better.[Omit music – 75:12 – 75:32] [End of Audio]
Duration: 75 minutes