We were lucky to catch up with Leo Petruzzella recently and have shared our conversation below.
Leo, looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. What’s something crazy on unexpected that’s happened to you or your business
I guess in our industry, the crazy story keeps getting retold!! Since the majority of the repairs to peoples vehicles are being paid for by the insurance companies, much of our time is working directly with them as a service to our clients. Once the client has established the claim, we pretty much take it from there and administrate the claim with the insurance carrier. Typically that begins with us perparing and estimate, documenting the damages with photos and then uploading that information to the carrier. They then review the estimate and photos and send back an “approved” repair estimate. This is where the craziness begins!! Pretty much all (there literally are two or three companies out there that are genuinely interested in repairing peoples vehicles correctly) insurance companies are all about saving money. Let’s face it, look at the medical industry with insurance. It is no different in our industry. So we now deal with individuals who have no idea whatsoever as far as what is involved in collision repairs. Most of them have gone through a 2 week course on how to review and edit an estimate. So when we send up our estimate, the “approved” sheet comes back usually at half of what we sent! We then have to get on the phone with them and try to educate an individual, who in many cases only started driving a car a few years agao, who now wants to tell us how a vehicle is repaired. And we literally deal with this day in an day out on pretty much all repairs. We definitely sign on for the “fight” as we are the advocate for our clients and are looking out for their best interests. The process can take days or even weeks working through several levels of insurance representatives, adjusters and supervisors. The lack of follow up or care for the mutual client is maddening. But at the end of the day, “we always get our man” so to speak! We do whatever is necessary to be sure that the end result of the repairs, restores the vehicle back to pre-accident condition.
As always, we appreciate you sharing your insights and we’ve got a few more questions for you, but before we get to all of that can you take a minute to introduce yourself and give our readers some of your back background and context?
Again, my name is Leo Petruzzella, and I am the owner/operator of Campus Body Salon. We are a fully accredited, I-CAR Gold Class collision repair facility in Tempe. I purchased the business from its original owner (he started it in 1973!) in 2003 and have owned it since. I love the name “salon” as that it truly what we do. We are a salon for your car. Whether it is something minor, a major accident, specialty services that you are looking for, we are your one stop shop! I believe that what sets us apart is the fact that we sincerely want to provide the best in collision repair services, that we stand behind our work, have awesome reviews, but that we truly strive to provide the client with the best experience as possible. Listen, no one wants to come and see us….they literally are there by accident. But we try to reassure our clients about not only the repairs, but the follow up, adminsitrating everything for them with the insurance and rental car companies, and as crazy as this sounds, make the experience as fun and hassle-free as possible. One of the things that we constantly try to educate people on is that according to Arizona state law, YOU, the vehicle owner, get to decide where your vehile is repaired. Don’t let the insurnace company try to steer you to one of their “network shops”. Those shops have an agreement with the insurance company to do what they can to try to save them the money on the repairs, which rarely translate into a vehicle being repaired correctly and with the clients best interest at hand.
Any advice for growing your clientele? What’s been most effective for you?
I believe the best strategy is honesty. I know that sounds cliche’, but I truly believe that has been lost in our current society. Being honest in all facets of our business is so important. Establishing expectations right from the start and then following through with what we said we would do. Honesty sometimes can bite us for instance on a vehicle we are behind schedule on. I would rather be up front and let them know what is happening and why we are dealing with the delay. I have at times said to a client, “I would rather you be upset with me because the car is a few days late, then you being upset with me because the vehilce wasn’t repaired correctly.” We aren’t perfect and we really do not deal with exact sciences in what we do, but if we miss the mark, we do whatever it takes to be sure our client is satisified and happy at the end of it all.
Can you share a story from your journey that illustrates your resilience?
Well, I am sure as most buisness owners can attest, there are the highs and lows of owning your own business. I think one of the most difficult journeys for us has been in terms of financing/cash flow. During the downturn in 2008 and then again in 2019/2020 with Covid, we had to really buckle down. We had times where we found ourselves having to take on debt and many times in those instances, it was high interest loans with not great terms to say the least! We made a lot of decisions to help naviagte those stormy times to cut back without jeapordizing our employees. We worked very hard over the years to maximize on our profits so that we could retire debt as quickly as possible. Fortunately, we have gained a lot of ground there and hoping to be completely out of business debt soon!!
- Website: www.campusbodysalon.com
- Instagram: campusautobody
- Facebook: Campus Body Salon
- Twitter: @Cash4YourCrash; @thunder6750