The smash repair industry is a tough one. The powerful insurance industry is the source of most of its revenue – and it flexes its collective muscles to ensure margins are kept tight. For example, in an era when motor vehicle dealer franchise mechanics are charging out at up to $120 per hour, the maximum rate insurance companies will pay for smash repair work is around 1/3rd of that amount. And with the insurance companies increasingly sourcing and supplying the parts required for a repair, the traditional parts margins are under pressure as well.
So how does RJ Don Panelbeaters thrive while many others in the industry merely subsist?
Well, it all comes down to Chris Kelly’s very special skills in leading and motivating a team. The crew at RJ Don Panelbeaters operate as a true team. They are all highly skilled and focussed on getting the job done efficiently and right first time. Everyone in the team is charged with ensuring customers are delighted – and that deadlines and promises are met. With its tight margins, this is an industry where mistakes, wasteage, rework or dissatisfied customers can quickly eliminate the fruits of an entire month’s hard work. This team is focussed on making very sure none of these things happen.
When you walk through the large bi-fold aluminium doors from the reception area into the RJ Don Panelbeaters workshop, the first thing you notice is how spotlessly clean and organised the surroundings are. The second thing is how energised the workshop feels. And the third is a large sign displaying the team motto: “Together Everyone Achieves More”. These guys live by that motto.
It’s no coincidence that the crew at RJ Don Panelbeaters are among the best paid in the industry. Chris Kelly makes a point of sharing the business successes with those who help to make it happen. These guys seriously have fun together – and they all enjoy the fruits of the business. The picture above is at a recent RJ Don Panelbeaters team trip to Sydney to catch a Warriors game and to celebrate a record month.
Chris avoids individual performance bonuses and incentives like the plague – when the team does well, the whole team benefits. If a particular person doesn’t pull their weight, the team will typically pull them into line well before Chris or his managers need to get involved.
Chris Kelly and his team demonstrate that by doing things differently it’s possible to thrive – even in difficult times and in a difficult industry.
RJ Don Panelbeaters is located at 124 Wairau Road, Takapuna – phone 09-444-9292.