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Business Philosophy Paying Off for Dingman's Collision CenterPosted 1/16/2001
By B.J. Johnson
Dingman's Collision Center opened its doors in 1984 in the community of Waverly, Iowa. The business was doing well at this location. However, due to a highway expansion, owner Boyd Dingman was forced to move his successful business. Dingman had longed to be in a larger market and the highway expansion gave the perfect opportunity to do just that.
So, in January 1995, the five-member Dingman family loaded up its belongings, including the body shop equipment, and moved to Omaha, Neb. We didn't want to open a shop until we knew the market in Omaha. After 18 months of working for Martin Senour and NAPA, calling on body shops, we located a building in August 1996, said Dingman.
For the next few months, Dingman remodeled the newly found building. Then, in December 1996, Dingman's Collision Center reopened its doors. The thriving facility currently has 12,000 square feet with 12 employees and performs repairs on approximately 20 vehicles per week. Our business has averaged a 30 percent growth every year since we opened here in Omaha, said Dingman.
Repairing damaged vehicles is a Dingman family tradition. I grew up in my father's body shop in Garner, Iowa, in the '60s, said Dingman. Today, this tradition continues with Dingman's wife, Diana, and son, Andrew, both working in the business. According to Dingman, the advantage of having a family-run business is they see the real picture of where the business is headed. We have a family that talks to each other, listens to each other, and respects each other's opinions. Until that changes, we feel there are no disadvantages of having family work together, said Dingman.
Dingman considers his role in the business as the visionary, always looking to the future. He works closely with Gary VanFleet, the production manager; Arlene Pike, secretary; and Diana on a day-to-day basis. A business philosophy of taking care of the true customers, correctly billing for proper repairs, and working to take care of the technicians is one that Dingman lives by. I am still a tech at heart, and feel that technicians are nationally shortchanged because of poor estimates and low labor rates, said Dingman.
As many service businesses have found, location can play a pivotal role in the marketing and success of a business. Dingman's Collision Center is located at the corner of a three-way intersection. This allows the many passersby the opportunity to see Dingman's Collision Center signage, thus making it a familiar name. In addition to a good location, Dingman's Collision also uses radio advertisements and education of consumers to further grow the business. In today's market, working for the customer, the vehicle owner, seems to be unique. Our marketing strategy consists of working for the owner, providing higher standards, and remembering the customer has a choice, said Dingman.
Dingman's Collision Center is also involved with the local Chamber of Commerce.
When talking with Dingman, you can feel his strong compassion for the collision repair industry and its employees. If I could change one thing about our industry it would be to snap my fingers, open the eyes of all repairers to see where we are today and where we are headed. To protect their businesses, know their true customers so that they can better take care of the technicians of our industry. We need to make this a proud profession again, with truer value to our industry's technicians, said Dingman.
Over the years, Dingman has worked diligently to improve the collision repair industry through the numerous positions he has held with various organizations. These positions and memberships include ASA, the Inter-Industry Conference of Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR), the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), state director for SCRS, president of the Cedar Valley Auto Body Association, regional director for I-CAR, and board member and area representative of the Nebraska Auto Body Association (NABA). Dingman is a recent member of CCRE, CIC, and also serves on the CIC fraud committee.
Industry involvement is very important to Dingman. We do have our future at stake and must all work together as professionals, he said. He believes many things have changed in the industry over the years many of these things not in the collision repairers' favor. Many associations have laid down in a way, given up our focus of proper repairs, and our integrity for our business, said Dingman. Due to this opinion, he will maintain membership in ASA, CCRE and NABA.
According to Dingman, the business would like to open a second shop in the marketplace. As with the opening of the first location, this decision will be fully researched and properly done. Whether it is one or several locations, Dingman's Collision Center will not waver from its complete customer satisfaction philosophy. This approach is demonstrated by the saying on Dingman's business card: We would rather be the best, than apologize for anything less.
Shop StatsName: Dingman's Collision Center
Location: Omaha, Neb.
Square Footage: 12,000
No. of Employees: 12
What I like best about my job:Taking care of our customers and knowing we did it the proper way.
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