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A ding, a dent, a dollar

August 05, 2009
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Editor’s Note: This article appeared in a previous issueof Professional Carwashing & Detailing.

The fine art of paintless dent repair (PDR) can be a very profitable addition to a services menu. Many customers have inquired as to what can be done about that ding on my vehicle door.

A probable response to that question could be, “we offer a service that can remove that door ding using specialized tools to massage the dent away saving your factory paint finish and complete the job while you wait.”

Steps to PDR

Estimate the job based on the location of the damage and it’s severity. Labor time is the key to estimating as there are no real product costs associated with performing this service.

Pinpoint the optimum location for access to the damage. Most dents can be accessed without removing any body parts on the vehicle.

Select the tool of choice. Tools are generally described in three categories: twist tools, rods or flat bars.

Generally, a technician will be armed with tools that have a variety of tips, lengths and diameter.

Proper lighting

Position your lighting equipment to read the damage. There is a variety available with some of the most common portable grids and fluorescent lights.

Every individual’s vision is a bit different and is very important to be working with the proper apparatus. The selected light is important for the technician to be able to completely finish the dent.

Begin to massage the dent back to its original condition. Metal has memory, and if moved properly, can be restored 100 percent. Many small dents can be removed in a matter of minutes.

Deliver the vehicle to the customer. A typical quarter size dent on a panel will bring $55 wholesale to $99 retail. A hail-damaged vehicle can range from $400 to $2,000 depending on the market.

A well-trained PDR technician can repair a complete hail damaged vehicle in an eight-hour workday. Many car care operators will package the service with a detail or wash. In addition, many quick lube outlets offer the service due to the quick repair time.

Marketing methods

There are a variety of methods to marketing the service. Often “before and after” pictures, in your lobby or located in your tunnel, will do the job of selling itself.

Points of purchase materials at the counter, commissioned sales staff on the line, or up selling detail customers are all successful ways of educating customers to this new service.

Direct mail coupons, newspaper and cable are preferred media selections.

In addition, professional estimating software is now available to take the guesswork out of bidding jobs.

Take a survey of customers who have these bothersome dents and dings and see if they might be intereested in this quick and affordable service.

Understanding PDR

Less than 10 percent of the general public is aware of PDR. Many car dealers are familiar, and receptive, to this alternative to costly body shop repairs.

Selection of a training school and equipment provider can be a dauntless task. With the inception of the Internet a number of organizations offer instruction and equipment.

Hands on training for PDR is the most critical part of investment to adding this service. While there are a number of impressive technicians throughout the country who have the ability to remove damage on a vehicle, they might severely lack the ability to relay that information to a new student.

Instruction needs to be flexible to meet the needs of everyone’s different vision, coordination, size and confidence.

Rods, bars and twisters

Tools, in general, are similar. An organization with a variety of sizes, tips and a solid warranty is important. It has been recommended that a new student not be locked into a mammoth set of tools that may not be suitable for that person.

Seasoned dent technicians will admit to using only a dozen of their favorite rods, bars or twisters on a daily basis.

Companies should allow for some personal selection of tools that will be efficient and productive to meet the needs of each individual.

Jason Zimostrad is VP Sales & Marketing for The Paint Bull Automotives Systems located in Michigan. The Paint Bull offers consultation, certified training, equipment, tooling and financing for PDR. Jason can be reached by email at jason@paintbull.com. The services can be viewed at www.paintbull.com.