Second Career in Automotive Service, Repair Meets with SuccessPosted 6/10/2005
By Leona Dalavai Scott
The automotive service industry is a "second life business field" for Kimberly Parson, owner and general manager of three collision shops and one towing facility in Maryland.
Parson has found great success in a short amount of time. In 11 years, Parson went from owning one body shop to owning three. Between her four businesses, she brought in $3 million last year in annual sales revenue - not bad for someone who did not have an automotive service and repair background. Before getting into the body shop business, Parson was a sales engineer for IBM/Rolm Telecommunications. She got involved in the industry through a family member, who is no longer with the company.
Now Parson is sole owner of Automotive Collision Technologies Inc. (ACT) and DBA Barnes Towing. Parson said she fell in love with the industry and wanted to improve the treatment of technicians. "These [technicians] were craftsmen in their field, and I thought they deserved more respect and better treatment than they were getting," she said.
Parson has had to rely on her previous work experience for IBM - along with her "exceptionally qualified employees" - to run her business. Working for IBM, Parson was trained in reviewing business contracts and dealing with the public on a professional level. The business contract experience has been extremely useful to her as owner, along with her people skills, which are crucial to working in this time-driven and often stressful industry. Her experience with IBM has led her to emphasize professionalism and quality above anything else in her business.
Parson believes it is ACT's attention to quality that has led to its growth. Parson began Automotive Collision Technologies with two employees, and her staff is now close to 40. Parson values her employees greatly. Wanting to create a more professional atmosphere for her company, she improved her benefits package, providing health and disability insurance, and a 401K as well as bonus plans for administrative employees.
She believes her benefits package is what allows her to attract highly qualified and motivated individuals to her company. It is her employees, after all, who conduct the 40 or so repairs serviced by her three shops each week. Parson's shops are located in Glen Burnie (8,500 square feet), Randallstown (5,000 square feet) and Westminister (27,100 square feet), Md.
Having three shops spread between three cities in three counties requires Parson to be on the go a lot. She divvies her time between the shops and fills in for workers when they're out. Splitting her time between the shops can be demanding. She readily admits that she wishes she could spend more time with each facility.
One of Parson's secrets to her success is the team concept that she promotes at Automotive Collision Technologies. Despite having three shops, Parson said all of her employees are committed to working together. "If they are asked to assist in another location, my people are happy to accommodate and help their fellow employees," she said.
Besides quality employees, another reason for Parson's success is her shops' prime locations. The locations were carefully researched to ensure they would be in areas of affluence where insurance relations were reviewed. "We are also strategically placed to coordinate stronger direct repair program (DRP) relations with the insurance companies, as they are generally driven by ZIP code and county coordinates," said Parson.
ACT's business philosophy is to exceed customers' expectations on the quality repair performed and to grow the business, taking her employees along with her for personal and financial growth. And growth is how Parson measures success.
Shop StatsName: Automotive Collision Technologies Inc. and DBA Barnes Towing
Location: Glen Burnie, Randallstown and Westminister, Md.
Towing location:Westminister, Md.
No. of employees: 40
No. of years in business: 11
Projected annual sales volume: $3 million-plus
On managing her employees: I insist on giving my employees all the credit they deserve - for working with their hearts and souls to better the independent collision facilities and towing company.
AutoInc. Web Site |
ASA Web Site |
Why Not Customer Choice for Crash Parts, Too? |
What You Need to Know About Hybrids Before Doing Collision Repairs |
Servicing Hybrid Cars |
How to avoid Roadblocks in Family Business |
Guest Editorial |
Tech to Tech |
Tech Tips |
Around ASA |
Shop Profile |
Net Worth |
Stat Corner |
Copyright (c) 1996-2011. Automotive Service Association®. All rights reserved.