PDR College Podcast Episode 45 Cure Your Low Prices w These 3 Strategies
There are many things that hold you back when pricing your services. Most of those are in your head! In this show we breakdown THREE simple ways to increase your bottom line every day in PDR!
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Shane Jacks: So, a major hailstorm has affected your area. What do you do now? Your phone is ringing off the hook, dealerships are inquiring about your services, and retail customers and body shops are eager to get in touch with you as well. You want to capture as much as possible while still maintaining your sanity. Now, how do you do this? How do you close deals, interact with customers, and answer an unrelenting phone, all while not losing your mind?
Enter a PDR management company like The Hail Company. The Hail Company will come into town and manage sites of all sizes and kinds to maximize your profit potential, from placing the correct techs in the correct positions that they fit best to total management of wholesale operations. The Hail Company will do whatever is necessary to make your storm experience a good, and more importantly, a profitable one. So, give Ryan a call today at 636-734-5470, or email him at Ryan@TheHailCompany.com. That’s Ryan@TheHailCompany.com.
Keith Cosentino: I’m Keith Cosentino, he’s Shane Jacks, and this is PDR College Podcast, your personal connection to the highest levels of PDR. We want you to come and join our party in the penthouse. We’re having a good time up here, and we wanna bring you with us. We wanna talk everything there is to talk about for the dent removal business, and we want you here with us. We wanna teach you, and we wanna learn from you as a team.
PDR College is helping guys all over the country, and we’re excited to be a part of that, and we’re excited to have you with us here. Every week, we’re talking about new topics that can bring more money into your pockets and reduce your working hours for the same amount of money you’re making, and generally make your life a better place doing what you enjoy doing and making more money at it. So, we’re grateful that you’re here with us, we’re excited, and today is gonna be a fun show.
And the long-time listeners, you’ll probably realize at this point that normally you’re hearing from Shane, but he is not with us today. Turns out, the fellows down at NASA have a little issue with R&I on the space shuttle and they needed an expert, so they flew Shane down there, actually flew him on a rocket. It was a lot faster than a helicopter or plane, so he’s down there working on that, helping those guys, and once he’s done, he’s gonna come back, and he’ll be here next week. But enjoy your time off, Shane, from the show, but we’re gonna have a good time here without you.
So, before I get started, I wanna talk about a couple of things before I get to our main topic. One, I wanna talk a little bit about ReconPro. We’ve been playing the commercial, but I have not had a time set aside to actually talk to you for a minute or two about it for the guys that have just started listening recently.
So, ReconPro is the software that I use to run my entire PDR company, minus the back-end bookkeeping which I use QuickBooks for. The two integrate seamlessly, which they have to if you’re going to use an invoicing program and then bring it into your accounting software properly. There’s a lot of little standalone programs that’ll help make an invoice, but if you’re running a real business, one that has legit books that you can show, or maybe if you’re gonna sell your company, you’ve got something to show what kind of numbers you’re doing and where the money’s going, you need a real accounting software, which is QuickBooks. It’s almost industry standard. There’s others, but that’s about what everybody likes to use, and ReconPro integrates with that perfectly.
But what it enables us to do is run everything on an electronic basis. And if you’re just by yourself with one guy, it’s a little less complicated, but we’ve got several technicians here and everybody’s gotta be on the same page, and that’s what ReconPro allows us to do.
So, to give you just a quick rundown on how it works and why we use it, every technician has what they refer to as a “device,” which you and I would just call an iPhone. They don’t have an Android version yet, but I believe they’re working on one. Currently, it’s just iPhone, and so every technician has an iPhone. It could be an iPad, but we use a phone because we already need to carry a phone, and I don’t see a necessity in carrying two different devices, so we stuck with the phone.
So, when you get to the job, you’re gonna meet the customer. You’re gonna do your estimate probably in person verbally. It’s a lot of work to do it on any phone or any device while you’re sitting there talking to the customer, and you really need to be making a personal connection with the customer anyways. Nobody wants you to have your head stuffed down in a computer or phone going, “Yeah, um-hum, um-hum,” and hitting buttons. They don’t know what’s going on. So, you want to do that estimate, and personally I believe this is the right way to do it, in person, eye to eye, face to face.
Then, when that’s done and you’re gonna plug the information in, what you do is you get out the phone, you fire up the application – it loads really fast – and then you’re gonna head on over to the VIN tag on the car. You’re gonna use the camera on the phone to snap a photo of the VIN. That automatically populates all the information about the car into that particular — what they call an “inspection,” which is basically an estimate, so you don’t have to type any of that stuff in.
And they keep coming out with new versions of that scanner. It keeps getting better and better and better. The latest one is like a laser. I mean, you hardly have to line it up. Once in a while, if you’re out in the sun, it can be problematic because half the VIN is shaded, half of it is lit up by the sun, so the contrast between white and dark fools the camera into thinking that’s a different part of the barcode, so you have to get tricky and shade it sometimes. If you’re inside, it’s not an issue at all.
But once you zap that, all the information’s in there. You get to applying the repairs and times and values that you’ve assigned in the computer already. There’s a bit of a setup process to get it set up the way you do it. Maybe you’re a panel guy, and maybe you’re not. Maybe you’re a hail guy. Maybe you’re a combination of the two. But you can handle all that in the setup. It’s almost infinite.
It’s kind of a bear to set up because you can set anything up you wanted to. You can price it by whatever you wanna do. There’s a hundred programmable buttons in there, so you take the time to set that up. It takes a minute or two to map out the way you run your company, how you price things, and how you want that to come up. Maybe you wanna change it and maybe you don’t, but you’ve got to figure out how you do that so can put it into the system and use it.
Once you do that, it’s just a matter of clicking the right buttons and plopping them on the little photo, if you wanna choose that. If you just want to go down a list and click boxes and check what you did, you can do that too. It’s really flexible there.
Then you’ve moved on to the next step. You’re gonna either issue a work order, which tells any and all – it tells whatever technician you want it to tell that it’s time to commence work on this vehicle. Most of the time, you’re just telling yourself, “Okay, inspection is done and approved. I’m gonna work on it.” That’s a work order. You complete the work, and you click one box and it turns it into an invoice.
At that point, you can pay that invoice with whatever payment method they give you. You can mark it as paid and put some records, like a purchase order from a dealer or body shop, or a check or what have you. And then right from the device, you can email that invoice to your customer or to yourself, so you have a record of it independent of the software.
When I first started, I emailed them all to myself because I didn’t trust the software. After a little while, I realized that was stupid. They’re all in the software. It’s not going anywhere. And the reason it doesn’t go anywhere is that it’s not stored there on the phone. When you generate the invoice on the phone, it’s actually communicating with the server, generating the invoice there, and emailing it from there. So, there really is very little precious information stored on the phone that isn’t backed up somewhere else. It’s on the phone – you can see all your customers, you can get into their information, you can map them, you can call them from your customer list – but it’s not the only place it is.
So, like I’ve said before, which I think is really cool, you can make an invoice, pay it, send an email, press Send, and then you can just chuck that thing over your shoulder as far as you can into the middle of a lake and not even worry about a thing except for your phone. All the information is stored somewhere else. That was a big thing for me. “If you lose your phone, gosh, you’re gonna lose all your information. If you break it, how are you gonna re-invoice these people?” That’s not a concern. It’s all hanging out in what they call the back office, which I would call magic cloud server.
But it’s really, really simple to run through it. It takes a minute to learn because it’s a new system. It’s like firing up a computer for the first time. If you’ve never done it, you need a little coaching, but once you understand it, piece of cake.
After that, the part about it that I love the most is the headache part of PDR at the end of the month. And any of you that run a halfway successful business know what I’m talking about, especially if you’re heavy in wholesale. At the end of the month, people are calling you, asking, “Hey, where’s this invoice? Where’s that invoice? I need a copy. I didn’t pay this. I didn’t pay this.”
And if you have none of that, which you do – you have a lot of it – but if you have none of it, you have to get those paper invoices into some kind of accounting system to be able to bill these dealers and body shops because they’re all paying on a what you hope is net 30, which you really experience is somewhere between net 45 and net 90. These guys are all slow payers all over the country. You have a couple good eggs, but mostly they’ll stretch you as long as you’ll go. Anyways, you gotta get those guys billed somehow.
So, what my wife used to do is take our paper invoices, a big giant stack of them, and data entry by hand, enter every single one into QuickBooks. It was like a one whole day deal of her time, just pounding away on a keyboard. It’s mindless work. Now all you do is click three buttons, and you tell it, “Okay, ReconPro, I’m done. Let’s put these in QuickBooks.” It says, “All right. Do you wanna look at any of them and make sure they’re good?” And early on, I was like, “Yeah, I gotta look at all of them.” And then once I realized, again, that the software works, you don’t need to look at anything. If you didn’t make mistakes in the first place, you don’t need to review them. Just send them on through.
So, you send them right into your back office. That takes like two minutes. Boom! They’re all in QuickBooks now. ReconPro has done its job, and it’s handed the football off to the software for accounting which you’re probably using to bill people. ReconPro is not an accounting software. You don’t use it to issue checks to people. You don’t use it to do billing. You just use it to capture what happens in a physical world into your accounting system. That’s it. It’s not supposed to be an accounting system.
If you don’t have an accounting system, you need one as well. And if you’re really trying to be professional about your business and you don’t know anything about that, which, quite honestly, I couldn’t run the books on my company. My wife is an expert at it, but if you don’t have a wife who is or wants to be an expert at it – by the way, my wife was not. She learned it herself over the course of years and now she’s very, very good at it, but she had to put some time in to learn it. If you don’t have that person, hire a bookkeeper. It’s not that big of a deal, and your books will be clean, and you’ll know where your money is and where it’s going, and you can make adjustments and make the company more profitable. That’s the real purpose of having a solid back office.
It’s not for taxes. That’s Purpose No. 2, which is also very important, but Purpose No.1 is to make the company more efficient because if the company blows up and you’re out of money, you don’t need to worry about taxes really because you’re gonna go out of business. So, if you’re gonna stay in business and be profitable, that’s the main goal. Paying taxes is second because you’ve got to make money to pay taxes.
So, if you don’t have that person and it’s you, and you don’t really get it or you’ve been putting it off because you don’t understand it, hire a bookkeeper. They’re not that expensive. They’re not like accountants. They’re basically accountants’ assistants. I’m sure some are more expensive than others, but there’s lots of people – I’ll say people, but mostly gals I’d say – but there’s lots of people who know this stuff and work from home, kind of on a freelance basis, and it’s easy-peasy to deal with them. You’re just dealing with the one person, just like hiring a dent guy. You negotiate a rate with them, and they’re your guy or they’re your gal. And you gotta be comfortable with them being in your books, but, I mean, that’s their business. They are bookkeepers.
So, I would recommend that if you don’t have that person in your life and you don’t want to geek out on it. Some of you are turbo geeks for your own numbers. Rock on, man, you guys are awesome, and you know everything inside and out. If you’re that guy, kudos to you. I’m not that guy. I’m kind of a big-picture strategy guy. I get bored with the little numbers. Although I love seeing reports, and tweaking techniques and programs to affect those report numbers, I don’t like the binary accounting part of it. So, that’s not my gig.
So, anyways, that’s what ReconPro does for me. It’s fantastic. It is not expensive. It’s under 100.00 bucks per user, and I think it varies a little bit depending on exactly what you’re doing. The pricing is slightly variable, so don’t quote me on the exact figure, but it’s around that. And for the amount of time my wife was spending, an entire day, I mean, what is that worth? And that was happening on a weekend because we have kids, so somebody’s gotta watch the kids while she can pound on the computer for ten hours. So, that was a weekend day smoked just to run the company, so that’s gone now. Super cool.
It’s the best thing I did for my company to be able to build it and grow it. Because as we started adding people and we were still on paper early on, now we’ve got like actual errors that guys are making on invoices with a pen and paper, that you’ve got to call somebody and say, “Hey, what is this?” If I were to ask you, “Hey, remember that car you did three weeks ago?” No, you don’t remember. You gotta look it up and try to figure it out. So, nobody can answer those questions right away, so that turned into another day and a half chasing around stupid little errors or “Where’s this number?” or “Why is this missing a number?”
Or dealers not paying an invoice because “Hey, this is the wrong stock number. What’s the right one from the gold Camry?” Well, I don’t know. I don’t even remember fixing that car. But now we have the VIN, which trumps everything. I don’t care if the stock number’s right or wrong, or the color’s right or wrong. I got the VIN, bro. That is it, so that’s a lock. You can’t argue with the VIN, and it’s scanned by the computer, so there’s not an error. If you put the wrong VIN in, if you enter it manually, which you can, and the VIN’s wrong, it doesn’t come up at all because it’s the wrong VIN. They’re all coded. They mean something.
So, it really probably has just paid for itself in not lost or transposed numbers that nobody can pay us on later. And if you do a lot of wholesale, you know that’s a reality. These guys seem to like latch on to every chance they get to not pay you for something. If you bill them late or you give them the wrong stock number, they’re like, “Hey, man, sorry. My hands are tied. I can’t bill this to anything,” which is total cop-out, but it happens all the time, so –
I bet the software, for us, has paid for itself just in that. It’s paid for itself in several different areas. That’s why I’m so passionate about it. I think it’s fantastic. So, check them out. They’re at AutoMobileTechnologies.com. We’ll have a link on the show page for PDRCollege.com, which you can always find and go straight over to their site. Make sure you tell them that we sent you over there from PDR College. They’ll take extra good care of you, roll out the carpet for you, and get you set up.
You gotta be willing to put a little time forward. It’s kinda like learning PDR. You’re not just gonna step into it and get it. You need to put a little work in. It’s gonna take a little bit of effort, but everything worth having is difficult to get. So, put some work in and then it’s easy after that. So, that’s ReconPro. I’m glad to share a couple minutes on it with you.[Begin Commercial]
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Let’s talk about a couple of other things we’ve got in the works here that we have or have not spoken about recently. The first one that I’ve kind of let sit for a little while is the Inner Circle. That is super exciting to me. We’ve just had a crazy busy last month with the launch of the tabs, and Shane and I have a project we’ve been working on together. So, we’ve been kind of out of time, not to mention I took a vacation, and the holiday was all on top of us.
So, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, things have been stacking up, and we have had almost zero extra time to work on the Inner Circle, but it’s in progress. We are really excited about it. We’ve got a nice list of guys who are high-level players, and some guys that I’m interested to meet that we are going to get the application process out to. There’s gonna be an application process. You’ll get an email with a questionnaire. You can fill it out in detail and submit it back, and we’re gonna make sure we are building this thing with the guys that you want to be a part of it with. We want guys that are excited to network with other guys that are bringing something to the table, not just leeching out information, but actually contributing.
So, I’m really excited about that. So, don’t think we’ve forgotten about it. It’s a big deal. It’s gonna happen. It’s just taking a little bit more time than I anticipated to build it, but like I said with ReconPro, the things that are worth having are difficult to get. So, be looking for that email. I’m hoping to be able to get it out by the end of the year and get that thing rolling. If everything goes as I’ve planned, we should be able to have a preliminary, like a meet-and-greet near the – at the MTE sometime because I know a lot of you guys are gonna be there for that. So, excited about that.
And speaking about MTE, our Advanced Skills Seminar is completely sold out. It was sold out before the last show aired when I said it might still be open. It was already sold out. We filled all those spots. We’re kinda bummed that we couldn’t fit more people in there because there’s some people that are asking us, “Please, make some space,” but we had to keep it to a manageable size, otherwise we don’t get to spend enough time with people individually.
So, that’s two days coming up in January prior to the MTE, so everyone who’s gonna be there is already signed up. We’re excited to see you guys. We’re also gonna get some correspondence out to you soon and fill in some details that you might be wondering about for that, and kind of give you a heads-up what to expect, what to bring, and things like that. So, man, we are excited about that. That’s gonna be a lot of fun.
It’s almost like a little party, what we’re doing here, like a PDR party with all the guys that talk the same language as you and have similar goals. It’s really been exciting. Shane and I have had such a great time on the podcast. And all of you guys who reach out to us on a personal level and thank us, and share the little war stories about what you’re doing and the things that we may have reminded you of or brought your attention to that are helping you make more money, it’s very, very fulfilling. So, I want to thank you guys for being part of my life in that department. It’s really been great.
And speaking of sharing that, had a couple iTunes reviews here that we’ve gotten since the last show. This one comes from – you know, everybody, you have to enter a username, so most people just type in something whatever for iTunes – so this user is GT4Ever. “Great info here,” five stars, “I’m a 15-year tech and enjoy listening to the show to find I am doing a lot of things correctly and figuring out how to fine-tune things I am doing incorrectly. For the past few years of my career, I’ve been getting a little bored. Keith and Shane have brought the passion back into my career. Thanks, guys!”
That makes me so happy to hear. I mean, it can be a little boring sometimes. If you’re a one-man show, especially, and you’re doing lots of wholesale work, and you’re not interacting with a lot of new people all the time, it can be kind of a grind. And no doubt, we’re well-compensated, it’s a relatively easy life, and we’re in it for a reason, right? No doubt about that. But if you’re on a dealer lot or dealer lots all day every day, you can get a little burned out, especially if you’re not networking, you’re not finding out about new tools, getting a chance to try them, and talking to other guys, you can kinda burn out.
So, it makes me so happy to know that maybe we’re the catalyst to keep some guy a little more excited, and go out there and bang on some bigger dents, and bring home some more money. Or maybe he’s given up big dents, and he’s doing just cherries, and he’s making even more money, but whatever he’s doing, he’s more happy about it now because of the show, and that’s so freaking cool to hear. So, thanks for sharing that.
The other one is from a new guy, NickLopez, spelled strangely. This comes from November 21st, and he says, “I’m new to this field, but I feel like an expert listening to these guys,” five stars, “Absolutely amazing info. I’m about two months into this industry. I went to school to be an aircraft mechanic, but lost interest in it. Then tried auto body, but lost interest in that too. Then I found PDR. I love it. And you guys really make me push myself to be the best in the industry. Thank you, guys, so much for the free info. It is outstanding. P.S. Soon to be the best – towards Shane LOL”
So, here’s a new guy, and I know some of the veteran guys are never happy about bringing new guys into the industry. I have a slightly different outlook on that. New guys are gonna get into the industry all the time, no matter what. Whether they see you work or not, whether they know what you make or they don’t know, some guys are just car guys. They’re getting in it for the same reason you got into it. It’s interesting. It doesn’t sound like it works. They wanna know more about it. They find out they can do it, make a living, not have a boss. There’s guys that are gonna get into it all the time.
So, what we have to do is manage, as industry vets like you and I are, we have to manage this flow of new techs into the industry and guide them along so they don’t end up nose-diving the thing into the ground. And the podcast is one of those things that’s helping. I think Shane and I are doing our part to help educate the new guys. If we can bring them this knowledge and let them know, “Keep your prices up. Don’t do this. Do do that. Be professional. Treat people properly. Make a professional website. Maintain it,” all these things that are making a successful business.
If we can help new guys get on that track sooner, these are not guys that are gonna run the industry down. These are guys that are gonna hang their hat on the fact that they’re professional, they’re well-compensated, and they’re well-represented. These are the guys that are gonna help carry the industry up and keep it where we like it.
It’s guys that get to the training, go home, and know nothing about the industry as a whole – those guys are gonna nosedive it. They don’t know what it’s worth. If they were making 15.00 bucks an hour before, they’re making 45.00 bucks an hour now. They’re pumped. They’re working for themselves. They don’t know it can be ten times better, or should be, and they should be ashamed by doing X, Y, and Z. So, we’re helping educate new guys about that.
So, I think the more we can help new guys, and tell them what they should be doing and where they should be doing it, the more we can keep the hackers driven out and keep our reputation where it should be, where I’m happy about it. So, I’m excited to be a part of that.
And I would encourage you guys, in your local markets, when you see another dent guy, if it’s a new guy or something, go meet the guy. Don’t mean-dog him and try to – it’s only gonna get worse. Go meet him, shake his hand, see if he’s a decent guy. Maybe he’s a douche. If he’s a douche, you’ll know it for sure then, and if he’s a decent guy, make friends with him. If he’s a new guy, you can help him out a little bit, and possibly he can help you out.
At least one of my guys is on my team because I made friends with him and figured out that, “Hey, he’s a really good tech and an even better guy, and he is not really fulfilling his potential on his own. He needs to be on the team.” And when we changed that, everything was better for both of us. So, those relationships are out there for you too, but they’re not gonna happen if you don’t go up, shake hands, meet the guy, and be professional and offer to help him. It can benefit both of you, so I would encourage you to do that.
And even if you don’t do business with the guy, at least you can set an example for him and show him, “This is where you need to be. This is the average price. Don’t go low-balling stuff around town.” I mean, if someone came to you and said, “Hey, guess what? You can actually get three times what you’re charging for stuff,” you think you’d be angry about hearing that? You think you’d say, “No, I’m not gonna do that, man. I’m gonna stick here at this lower price”? No, of course not.
If somebody came to you and said, “Hey, guess what? You can actually get a lot more than what you’re getting,” they’re gonna do it. They’re gonna go with you because who doesn’t want to make more money? So, if you got a guy that’s really low-balling the industry, maybe he just needs more information. Think about that. Nobody would go down on purpose. Maybe not nobody, but almost nobody.
All right, so today, let’s get into – ooh, ooh, I gotta cover one more thing. This came out a couple weeks ago, but I did not have time to get it into the podcast and I’m excited about it. The folks over at A-1 Tool, which is a fantastic tool company – they have fantastic tools at really, really amazing prices, I think. I think a lot of their stuff could be more expensive, but they find a way to run the company with prices that I think are ridiculously low. But they’re great. I’ve been using their tools since I started in the business, and they never break. They may not be the flashiest tools, but they are the workhorses. They’re always there, and they’re always jamming.
And a couple episodes ago, maybe three, we talked about a custom tool that I had them make for me called – what I call – the humpback tool. That’s not really – it has no name, but that’s what I call it because of that bend in the heel and then the blunt tip. You can flip it around and use the heel backwards.
I guess I should take it from the top for guys who haven’t listened to the other show. It’s a 3/8” pushing tool with just a simple U-turn on the back for a handle that’s dipped, and then on the tip, it’s like a normal 45-degree bend to a normal, basic round-ball tip. It’s not fancy. The difference is instead of the shaft going straight into the bend for the tip, it goes the opposite direction for a little curve and then up to the tip. So, what it does is enables you to get through the same small hole and flip the tool backwards, use the heel, which is a big-radiused end, and then when you wanna finish, turn it around to get to the tip and finish it.
So, I talked to them about that custom tool which they have a record of making for me, and I said, “Hey, would you guys be willing to make that tool for other people? Can you like map the specs and make a model for it, and if people want it, they can get it?” And they said, “Yeah, we’d love to do it,” so they’ve done it. So, you can order your own humpback tool now, and we’ll have a link on PDRCollege.com that’ll take you straight to their site.
I don’t think they have it listed on their site as a model, so you’ve gotta maybe call or email with the specific model number, which I’ll put on the podcast page as well, but here’s what it is. And A-1 has a system of decoding their tools to tell you the diameter, the tip, the length, and all this kind of stuff. So, it’s a little bit of alphabet soup, but this is the model number for the PDR College humpback tool. It’s 38Y31D-PDRC, for PDR College.
So, 38Y31D-PDRC, and it’s $41.00 for a custom-made tool. It’s bananas. And that tool’s great. And you can tweak it if you wanted to. You can change the tip to something a little sharper, which would be a really neat tool. Mine is blunt and blunt, but if you wanted to leave the humpback side for a super blunt and then make a sharp tip on the other side, that would be a sweet tool too. You could do a lot of big pushes with the heel, and then turn around and finish with the sharp tool. Guys are getting sharper and sharper now. That would be a great tool. In fact, it makes me think I wanna order one of those myself.
The fact that it’s 3/8 means that if you drill a ½” hole – I said it, we’re drilling holes on wholesale stuff all day long, guys. Call me what you will. Most guys call me well-off. But with a 3/8 tool and a ½” hole, you can actually put three or four wraps of tape around the humpback, still get it through the hole so you have a big cushioned push, and then you turn around and finish with a sharp steel all in one tool, which is way fast and gets you into that hole with basically an interchangeable tip setup.
So, I love that thing. It’s fantastic. And I encourage you to get one for yourself. At that price, how can you go wrong? I mean, you basically get it out the first time and touch a piece of steel, and it’s paid for itself, and it’s gonna live with you for another ten years. I don’t know how you don’t buy it. But check it out, and share your feedback with me once you get it. Tell me if you like it or not. If you don’t like it, I will give you zero of your dollars back. You’re gonna love it. So awesome. Thank you, guys at A-1, for doing that, really cool.
Okay, so let’s get to the meat of the show today. We spent a lot of time housekeeping here, but we’re talking about how to cure your low pricing. And we talk about pricing a lot on the show, but I brought this up for a reason, and here is the reason.
I went on vacation, like I said earlier, for about ten days, and had a little bit of stuff going on before that and a little bit of stuff after that, so I really was out of work for about two weeks, which was nice. But when I came back, I had just a handful of days to finish the month, and I really needed to put the pedal to the metal. I wanted to see if I could make an average month in half the time of a full month.
So, I’m trying to go balls out. And everybody knows that when you really want to get a job, what does your pricing do? [Bomb whistle] into the toilet. You start bidding stuff to not lose it. When you’re really, really, really busy, like there’s so much work in front of you and the phone won’t stop ringing, that’s when you naturally start raising your prices back up, up, up, just trying to scare people off. And a lot of you who have done that, you know what happens. You don’t scare them off. You get the jobs, but it’s because you’re confident that if you lose it, you have five people in line behind this guy waiting. It doesn’t matter if you lose it or not, you have plenty of work to do.
So, what I’m trying to do is remember to keep that mindset in the times when you want every job that comes across. You gotta stop bidding them to not lose them. And I was actually a victim of that myself just this last week. And I recognized it, and I was able to make some adjustments midstride, but it wasn’t after losing a couple hundred bucks here and there that I had to really step back and audit my own stuff.
Part of the great part about doing this show is that you’ve gotta really look back at your own procedures and techniques, and remember to sometimes take the same lessons that you’re teaching. If you really want to learn something, you teach it. And some of you know that one of my hobbies is jujitsu, which is a ground-fighting sport that has an infinite number of techniques and leverage positions, and you submit your opponent by basically overpowering one of his joints with more of yours.
So, I got really into that. I’ve been into it a long time. I don’t have a lot of time to do it now because I’m so busy with the tool company, and the podcast, and my other business, and my kids, etc., but I love it still. And since I’ve been doing it so long, I naturally end up getting paired up with a newer guy when I go, and kinda helping him along. And I realized, even just five or six years into that, that when some guy’s asking me, “Hey, why do you do this? When you execute that particular technique, why do you do this?”
And I had to think, “Oh, well, let’s see. I don’t know exactly why I do it. Let’s go through it and we’ll figure it out together. I’ll be able to tell you why I do it.” And once you kinda slow down, you realize, “Okay, the reason I do this is XYZ, so he can’t put his hand here,” or whatever. But a lot of the things, when you’re moving full speed, you don’t realize what you’re doing, so when you have to teach someone else every little step of what you’re doing, you really have to know your game inside and out.
And that’s true for martial arts. It’s true for PDR. Always it’s funny when I say “martial arts” because it makes me think it’s like some retarded karate thing, but jujitsu is legit. I started it because I saw it on TV like everybody else, like, “Hey, there’s actually guys that are training to fight for years on end, and they’re getting choked out unconscious, so I think this is probably cool stuff. I’m gonna learn it.” So, it’s not like that karate movie with Will Ferrell. Anyways, when you’ve gotta teach something you’ve gotta know it inside and out.
So, my prices were sucking just last week because I was trying to go too fast. I was trying to get everything. So, I was able to step back away and adjust it midstride, and I got back to where I needed to be, but it made me really think of this and made me wanna cover it a little bit in detail with you.
So, I came up with a couple of ideas on what I could do for myself, which would apply for you as well. I think, “Okay, Keith, how am I gonna solve this problem on paper that I can remember? Like how can I make myself a couple of rules that I can stick with and make this change?”
So, here’s a couple of the things that I came up with. I’ve never been a fan – well, in the past, up to this point, I’ve never been a fan of pricing systems, like, “Hey, it’s X amount of inches, and we have to do this, so you plug it in and you get the number.” I have not been a fan of that. I like looking at each job and determining, “Wow! That is deep,” or “Man, that’s ground up sharp. I’m gonna need more time for that,” and that’s been very successful for me.
However, I think I might be changing my opinion, and I’m going to put it to the test to the next couple weeks, and maybe some of you guys can do it too, and we can compare notes and see if it works for you. But I was looking through some of my old photos of big dents and seeing, “I wonder if there’s an easy equation I can plug into these to come up with a figure, just as a starting point.” And of course, you could tweak anything you want, but I said, “I wonder if I can come up with a figure.”
And I haven’t spent too much time like making a big deal about it because I don’t want to have a hard-nosed rule about like, “Okay, you gotta measure this, you gotta measure that, and you put this in. Was it aluminum? Is it body line? Okay, it’s $942.15.” That’s not really what I’m looking for, but something that can help you and the customer both realize that I’m not just yanking a figure out of my rear end, this is why it’s this much.
So, what I came up with is just some basic dollar-per-square-inch for big damage. It doesn’t translate very well for small damage. A dent’s gotta be above 3, 4, 5 inches for this to make sense. But I think – and I’m gonna test it. I’m not saying this is the solution to everyone’s problems, but I’m gonna test this on a couple big dents, and see how the reaction is with the customer, and how the reaction is for me and for the bill, ultimately, which is–
On a side note, one of the great things about running a company like this is you can change anything on a daily basis, and you can execute anything over and over again in the same day. You can try this strategy for the dent in the morning, and you can give it up for the dent in the afternoon. You have a lot of opportunities to try and be flexible and be fluid with your company that you don’t get at a big company, so embrace that.
So, here’s what I came up with. I think for a dent above 3, 4, 5”, they’re gonna be complex, usually not just round. So, I’m gonna measure two directions, like top to bottom and left to right, or whatever the largest dimensions are, and just those two numbers. So, just say the dent is 6 by 6 – it’s 36 square inches. And it may not cover an entire 36 square inches to the naked eye. To you and I, we’ll see there’s crown and everything probably stretching all over the center of that thing, but most people wouldn’t see what you see, unless it’s a perfect round dent.
So, if you’ve got 36 square inches, I think the price for most big dents is gonna be somewhere between 10.00 and $15.00 per square inch. And if you come right in the middle at 12.00 or 13.00, then you can use that to say, “Okay, we’re normally at $13.00 a square inch. That’ll be – whatever the math is – but for you, on this, we can do this or that.” So I think it’s that number plus the R&I and possibly plus an upcharge for a body line, if you’ve gotta rebuild the body line through there, another $50.00 or $75.00 on top of that.
Now, it gets really expensive really fast for a big dent. You can increase the square inches really fast if you like smash up a fender. But maybe that’s where the price needs to be. So, I want you to play around with that a little bit and see if it gives you at least a starting point to start negotiating that repair with that customer on a basis that makes sense and is easy to understand for both of you.
See, when you have a negotiation like that and you start somewhere, the start point is set the first time somebody says a number. And you can set it high and work down from there, or they can set it low and you can work up from there. But if you set it high and you set it there with an understandable system – you said, “Okay, here’s what we do. We’re at $12.00 a square inch, so let’s measure this. We are 6 by 6, that’s 36 times 12, so it’s like $432.00,” and then maybe a $50.00 upcharge if it’s through a body line. So, that’s a pretty decent repair amount, 482.00, and if you have to go up or down from there, you can, adding R&I. I think R&I always has to be extra if you’re gonna go this route.
But I’m gonna try it and see if it can keep me at a high starting point, and of course, you have the ability to negotiate down if you want to and add cheaper dents in addition to it, etc., etc. But I think it’s a good starting point, so I’m gonna play with it. I’m gonna start somewhere between 12.00 and 15.00 bucks a square inch for a big dent and see what happens. I’ll eat my words if it turns out better, and I’ll adopt it across the whole company, but I’m gonna try that. I’ve been vocal against it before, but who knows? Old dogs, new tricks. Let’s give it a shot.
The other thing is something I haven’t done but other guys have been successful with, at least purportedly, is like variable quality levels. And it’s something that I do kind of once the estimate is going south, like I’m not feeling I’m gonna get this job because I’ve come in at a full retail number and they’re starting to give me signs that they don’t really want quality like that. They’re gonna sell the car or something like that.
So, I guess it is something that I do after the fact, but some guys bring it in the beginning, and we’re gonna share a voice message from Daniel Gromm who called in to the show quite a while ago and mentioned how he does his variable pricing. And let’s see Daniel’s strategy and compare it to what I might do.
Daniel Gromm: Hey, guys, this is Daniel Gromm from Dent Dynamics listening to your latest podcast. And the question when customers ask you, “How much do you charge?” I always say, “Well, do you want regular PDR or do you want deluxe PDR?” And then watch their eyes cross and scratch their head, and then when they say, “Regular,” I know that they want a low price. If they want deluxe, they want the best. Or if they ask, “What’s the difference?” I go, “One is okay, and one’s perfect.” And it usually gets a laugh out of them, and usually you kinda gauge where they’re at from it and have a little fun with it. So, there’s my answer. Thanks, guys. Keep up the good work.
Keith Cosentino: So, apparently Daniel makes all of his phone calls from a motorcycle, but you get the point. So, I’ve never done it like that. I think it’s interesting. I know he’s not the only guy to approach their customers like that and offer different degrees of quality up front. And it is a great way for ferreting out what they’re after. I don’t typically personally use the word “deluxe” very often, so that might not be my verbiage, but – and I don’t even know if I’ll adopt something like this because it’s very different than what I do, bringing that up in the beginning.
But it may not be that different because I’m handling that same issue at the end of the conversation or the middle, and maybe I could bring it to the front. It’s worth a shot. It’s worth a try to see what kind of reaction you get, so this is another strategy you can use to ferret out what they want. Slow that conversation down a little bit. See, one of the reasons you end up throwing out some bogus numbers early on is that you get to the price really quickly and you don’t take enough time to think about it, think about what kind of work is gonna go into it, think and ask what they need out of this job or what they expect, and then come up with a price that’s competitive for both of you, or agreeable.
So, by slowing down and asking more questions, your price is almost always greater. Like when my techs and I talk about a job beforehand, with photos, and say, “What do you think about this? I’m thinking here you’re gonna be three hours, you’re gonna be four hours, but you need to be at least 6, 7, $800.00,” it really helps you come up with a game plan and come up with a number that makes sense, that you don’t regret two hours later into a big dent. Or a dent that you really glass out relatively quickly but bring a lot of value to the table if it’s a high-end car or something like that.
So, slowing down the estimate process is almost always good for you. You’re gonna be able to price it better. And if you slow it down and you give the high price and you start to lose it, if you’re still keeping that slower pace, you can say, “Okay, tell me why you don’t wanna do it for that.” “Well, because I’m selling the car.” “Okay, so let’s talk about this then. I have a dealer-level quality that I do that is fantastic, but it’s not perfect because dealers don’t wanna pay for perfect. They want the car as nice as it can be with the lowest possible price. Maybe we can apply those same standards to this job for you and get this thing looking nice enough to sell just like the dealers, and save you some money.”
Now, that’s kind of the rescue close I use a lot when I can’t sell them on the high-price perfect repair. And I’m just fine doing that. Half the time I’m still doing the same repair job and making it look great, but I’m just capturing that job when I would have lost it otherwise. So, that’s Strategy No. 2 that you can try to implement.
The third one is a little more of the numbers geek in me. I’m looking in my QuickBooks, and we talked about that earlier in the show about having solid books and I’m looking at my average retail repair job. And the average retail repair job for me was like $207.00 and some-odd cents. So, that’s everything taken into account, big and small. We’re doing more smaller dents than we are bigger dents by volume, of course. Everybody knows that. You can only do so many big crushes.
But you find out that average number and then decide you’re going to increase it. I’m gonna increase my average by 25 percent, which is a huge jump. 25 percent is bonkers, but the dollar figure is low enough that I think it can bear it. So, if I know that my average has been 207.00 and I want to get it to 232.00 or 240.00 or whatever, now I have a number in my head. I need to be 240.00, which needs to be your new minimum basically, not your average because if you try to average it, you’re gonna go under it too many times, I think, personally. So, if you wanna try to raise your average, raise your minimum to 240.00.
And you don’t advertise that because it gets to be a scary number for a lot of people. In fact, I found when I was telling people my average was 150.00, and then I’d get there and do whatever closing they need to do, I had a higher success rate than telling people on the phone my average is 150.00 to 200.00. That seemed to scare more people. So, I’m sticking at 150.00 for my phone work, and then when I get in person, if there’s cost or need or reason or chance to upsell to 230.00, 240.00, 250.00, that’s what I’m gonna do there on the spot. So, I’m gonna maintain that.
Now, please note that I am not purposefully trying to do a bait and switch. I’m gonna tell them the average is approximately 150.00. That gives me a little wiggle room to go to 180.00 and down to 130.00. I feel like that’s a legit description when I say “approximately.” But 150.00 to 200.00 was scaring too many people, so I’m gonna get there with 150.00 and hope for other factors that are going to have to increase their repair or other dents that I can find and upsell to get to 230.00, 240.00, 250.00, which is I think where I wanna be.
So, that’s something I’m gonna put on my dashboard in a little sticker that reminds me what the average cost needs to be, which is now the minimum cost because that’s what’s gonna raise your numbers up. So, chasing after these numbers, that’s what changes them.
So, those are three strategies that I’m going to implement in these next few weeks, and I want you guys to try some of them or all of them, and let me know how they work for you. And maybe you’ve got something that’s similar but a little bit different, that’s better, that did better for you. So, if you’re so inclined, share it on the PDRCollege.com Discussion Questions after the show or on our Facebook page, PDR College.[Begin Commercial]
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If you wanna be a part of the movement, get yourself over there and get some tabs into your box. BlackplaguePDR.com or DeadRatTabs.com. Guys, the game has changed. Don’t get left behind. Stay on the cutting edge.[End Commercial]
The last thing we’re gonna talk about today is a tool review, and we’ve talked about it a time or two before, but I’m going to tell you about this new German Dent Tape that I’m using and that I’m selling on the BlackplaguePDR site.
I got started using it from one of my dent buddies, Arturus, Arthur. He was using this tape that comes from the Mercedes-Benz factory. You buy it from Mercedes, and it has their model sticker number on it and all that, or part number, rather, and it was like 36.00 bucks or something like that, with a discount. It was expensive stuff, but they don’t use a lot of it. It’s a huge roll.
And what it’s for is wrapping the wire looms. And this tape was developed specifically for that cause, for that purpose, rather, because they needed something that had a high abrasion resistance, so when the loom is bouncing around just a little bit or rubbing against some kind of bracket, it doesn’t wear through the wire. So, they needed higher abrasion resistance.
And cars get hot. Wires sometimes get hot – not very often – but the cars get hot in the sun, and they needed something that wouldn’t break down under the heat after year after year after year. So, this particular tape was developed for them and for other manufacturers, I’m sure, at the same time. But they wanted these qualities in a tape. Turns out, those qualities are exactly what makes a good dent tape: high abrasion resistance – we’re pushing on them and grinding on them on the back of the metal – and high heat resistance. If you have a nasty dent that needs tape, you need heat too. You’ve gotta heat it up.
So, this tape has been like a little miracle. And I’ll use it all by itself for almost any deep dent because it’s very, very thin as well. You can get three or four or five wraps around it, and it still is not a lot of material, bulky-wise, on the end of the tool, bulk-wise, and you can get it into a tiny spot still.
So, I’m wrapping lots of little tools and lots of big tools with this tape. Now sometimes, I still want to use a piece of leather, which is just slightly superior to this tape, because this tape will eventually break through. It takes a long time, like you can probably do a couple of dents with the same handful of wraps on that tool, versus like a duct tape – you’re gonna get a handful of pushes before it breaks through. But leather almost won’t break through, unless you’re pushing with a sharp tool with leather, which doesn’t really make that much sense anyways.
So, leather is still superior for the push, but leather is bulky, and it’s hard to get into a hole or a small cavity, or if you’re in a limited-space scenario. The tape is better for that. But when I can use the leather, getting it to stick on the end of the tool is sometimes a challenge, so I use this same tape to secure a piece of leather. So, sometimes I’ll lay the tape sticky-side-up and cut like just a little, a half-inch square of leather, and put it in the tape, and then use the tape to like make a band-aid, a leather band-aid, and put it right over the tip of the tool, and then maybe just wrap it one more time to keep it shifting from left and right, and I’m good to go. I’ve got a piece of leather under my tool with minimal material wrapped around that’ll still get into the area I needed to get into.
So, for the price you pay for this stuff – we got it for 22.00 bucks – one roll’s gonna almost last you indefinitely unless you’re like the dent machine, and you’re fixing 52 big dents a day, and you’re wrapping every single tool. It’s gonna last. You’ll probably lose it before you use it all.
So, I think it’s fantastic, and I’m excited to have it because when I first started using it, I thought, “Man, this is freaking cool.” I just didn’t like the fact that I have to go to the dealership and talk to the parts guy, and have him look it up, and maybe they have it, maybe they don’t. It was a pain in the butt. So now that I’ve got it in one place, you can just make a couple clicks, and I’ll send it to your doorstep. That’s much easier.
So, check it out. We’ll have a link on PDRCollege.com. Shane also uses this tape. He started using it when he was at the BMW assembly plant early in his career because they use that tape there to tape up wires, and he had access to it. So, it’s a BMW and Mercedes OEM original, and the stuff I’ve got is not a knockoff. It is the OEM German-made stuff. It just doesn’t say Mercedes on it, so that’s why I was able to get it cheaper.
So, enjoy the German Dent Tape. Tell us about your experiences changing your pricing strategy, if you wanna change it for retail. Let’s see what we can come up with together to raise the bar for everybody. And go buy that custom tool from A-1. You’re gonna thank me for that. That plus the tape is what I use. I use the tape on the humpback portion to cushion the big push through a ½” hole. I can get around it 4, 5, 6 times, and it fits easy without shoving it in there. Really, really fast setup. And what? The whole entire shooting match there, 41.00 and 22.00, 63.00 bucks. I almost wanna start selling it on the side so I can mark it up 100.00 bucks to the real price that that combo should be. Or 200.00 bucks. I’d make so much money with those two little cheap rascals.
So, check it out and bring it into your kit, and do not be left behind with old tools. That’s how you got stuck in the first place. You gotta stay on the cutting edge.
Speaking of cutting edge, I’ve got to tell you Blackplague Smooth Series Tabs are taking over the world. These things are rocking everybody’s world who tries them. It sounds like I’m just selling you, and I would think I’m just selling you as well, until like the 105th person has emailed me or Facebooked me and said, “Okay, Keith, I thought it was hype, but these things are stupid. They pull ridiculous, especially the small tabs.”
The small tabs are really what’s changing the game. I mean, it’s not rocket science to get a big giant tab to stick to a car – it’s a lot of glue. But the little tabs – if you can make a little tab stick, that’s the true test, and that’s what we’ve done. These little tabs are just ripping metal. They’re fantastic. So if you don’t have them, you’re behind. You’re slower than you were, than you could be.
So, get them. It’s like the cheapest thing you can add to your glue pulling arsenal that’s gonna cut your time in half. Some guys are telling me their time is half on a rail. That’s nuts because I don’t even do that many rails. I’m not a hail guy. I wish I was because I’d be richer, but the guys that are? They are smoking through rails way faster with these small tabs because they’re not having to re-pull, re-pull, re-pull. One pull, they’re getting it up, and if you have clean tap down work, you’re done. Yes, even if it has a pit.
So, try it out. If you don’t like it, I’ll buy them back. I have not bought anybody’s tabs back. Everybody loves them. But if you’re worried about it, I’ll buy them back from you. I’ve got people standing in line to buy them from me, so I’ll take them back. But check them out as well.
They’re on the site BlackplaguePDR, and now they’re starting to pop up in other tool companies’ catalogs now. They’re gonna be at Dentcraft, if they’re not there now. They’re at PDR Outlet, they’re at PDR Gear, and they’re at Pro PDR Solutions. And they’re at TDN Tools. For you UK guys who don’t want to wait for my shipping, they’re coming right from TDN. So, they’re there. Get them in your box yesterday because you are losing money if you don’t have them.
I look forward to talking to you guys next week. Thanks for spending an hour with us. Until next time, get better.[End of Audio]
Duration: 56 minutes