PPG Automotive Refinish & Commercial Coatings
Vision Collision - Market Savvy

Despite being located in a state where growth is uncommon these days, Vision Collision is expanding—opening its fourth autobody repair facility in the Lansing, Mich. market later this year. Why are the owners there so confident and upbeat about their future?

 

Co-owner Jack Brown sees it this way: “We know we
have a strategy that works.”

The strategy begins with marketing. Vision has two full-time employees dedicated to the discipline of marketing. One focuses on insurers and the other is charged with marketing Vision Collision’s capabilities to fleet owners and managers. “In a market like ours, we can’t afford to advertise,” says Jack. “But we can talk to the people who talk to the people.” In other words, they take pains to proactively reach those who are likely to influence the repair decision: dealerships, insurance agents, fleet managers, etc.

Among the strategies used by Vision Collision’s marketing team:

  • A custom-designed “goodie box” filled with donuts or lunch items, used to gather people for a conversation about current needs (and how Vision can help solve them) 
  • A wrecked vehicle on a trailer taken around to various insurance agents; Vision offers to display the insurance agent’s name and logo beneath the display as part of a campaign against drunk driving
  • A custom-decaled Vision vehicle travels around town to provide mobile estimating
  • A fixed up car is given away to a deserving high school student to promote customer loyalty and garner media attention with nominal cost 
  • News, feedback and promotions/events are posted on Facebook
  • Televisions in the nicely-appointed waiting rooms run looping videos that include mention of Vision’s use of the environmentally-conscious Aquabase® Plus waterborne paint system 
  • Vision supports the community through such activities as car washes and team sponsorships

Another strategy is exceptional service. Both consumers and business-tobusiness customers are often taken aback at the level of service provided by Vision. “When we first started doing mobile estimating,” says Jack, “we had a hard time getting people to believe we would do that for them.” Agents, too, were wary at first that Vision might not deliver on some of its promises. But over time, the company’s commitment becomes apparent and they have developed a reputation of “doing what they say they’ll do.”

Vision Collision took another step toward differentiating themselves by converting to the Nexa Autocolor® Aquabase® Plus waterborne system. Being a leader in this area is the next logical step in Vision’s market-savvy strategy.

“It was time,” says Brown. “There’s a big green push out there. It certainly helps our reputation to use products that are environmentally-conscious.”

Vision chose PPG because, like themselves, PPG had a reputation for doing things, rather than just talking about them. “In the end, painting is just a fraction of what we do,” says Jack. “Training and support are what we really need, and that was a key reason for choosing PPG.” Co-owner Kevin Cozik, a former painter himself, described it this way: “Every time we asked a question, there was a better answer from PPG.”

Early this year, Aquabase® Plus helped fuel Vision’s growth in a somewhat unanticipated way. The company was looking to open a new location in Dewitt, one of Lansing’s upscale suburbs, but the Planning Commission had to approve the expansion. “People have this impression that a collision center is a belching, noisy, polluted place where junk cars pile up,” says Jack. “They usually want us to put our buildings in an industrial park, but we want to be near the car dealers and the nice shopping centers. It’s important that our facility is highly visible because it’s one of our best forms of advertising.” Using facts supplied by PPG regarding how this product contributes to reduced pollution, the proposed Dewitt location received unanimous support, and is now anticipated to open for business later this year.

Concern for workers was another reason for the recent switch to waterborne. “Because I was a painter for many years…” adds Kevin, “if there’s something we can do to improve conditions for our employees, we do it.”

Although the booth and air lines remained the same, Vision did add air moving equipment in the form of ceiling fans. “The equipment changes were minor,” says Jack. “Some of it was changed because it was out-of-date anyway, but we are moving toward increased air capacity and are looking forward to adding a new booth, where we anticipate even more benefits from the new system.” Painters and painter helpers attended a one- or twoday training course in advance of the conversion. “When the product came in,” says Jack, “the training made for a simpler transition since the guys already knew the names and numbers.”

The conversion process has been complete for more than a year, and “the painters would absolutely not go back (to solvent),” says Jack. Like many other shop owners that have converted to a PPG waterborne platform, Vision has noticed a reduction in the number of redos. “That’s probably the biggest deal,” says Jack. “The color is so accurate, we don’t have to pull something back around to re-blend or tint it. There’s more paying work going through the booth.”

The leadership team at Vision Collision definitely sees the potential for further expansion; this is one “Vision” that is decidedly far-sighted.