Shifting Careers to Paintless Dent Repair
Justin Craft of RC Paintless Dent Repair LLC is only one year into PDR, but what a year it’s been. Many PDR techs take years to master the art of dent removal and run successful businesses. Justin, while acknowledging he’s still green and has a lot to learn, is growing a PDR business that stands out from the crowd.
A few years ago, Justin wasn’t in the car industry at all. He was working as a heavy equipment operator and a journeyman machine repair mechanic in the glass bottle industry in Brockway, Pennsylvania. His brother, Kenny, managed a car dealership and co-owned an auto and RV transport company with business partner Josh Reitz.
One day, Kenny and Josh started throwing around the idea of getting into the PDR business. They both had a lot of business affiliations in the auto industry, so it seemed to be a natural fit. Eventually they decided to go all in; all they needed was a Paintless Dent Repair technician.
This new business venture ended up changing the trajectory of Justin’s career. Justin was the perfect candidate. He was a perfectionist, paid great attention to detail, took pride in doing quality work, and was driven to learn and grow. Excited to join in business together, Kenny, Josh, and Justin began RC Paintless Dent Repair LLC.
The first step was certification, and Kenny and Josh offered to send Justin to get certified as a PDR Technician. After a lot of research, they chose Ding King in Greenville, South Carolina, touted as one of the most trusted PDR schools in the country. Justin enrolled and here he learned to push his first dents and earned his PDR certification. He also learned more about business and marketing for PDR.
Getting Started as a PDR Business Partner
After he completed his training and had a certification to get into the PDR business, Justin returned to his hometown of Brockway and quickly began to implement the plan of the business. Justin got started by knocking on dealerships’ doors and getting in front of general managers at those dealerships. Slowly, he started taking over those accounts.
“The dealerships had ‘their guys’, but these guys were traveling from farther distances and could only come out one day per week. They weren’t prioritizing it like I could. I offered consistency that no one else could, which is why I think I won the work from my local dealerships. I show up every week,” Justin said.
Over the past year, Justin has secured 15 local dealerships that make up his weekly route and have given him consistent work. His relationships with the local dealerships have also proven to be very beneficial in providing new opportunities for growing the retail side of the business. (Expanding further into retail is a priority for them in the coming year.) Today, RC Paintless Dent Repair is getting referrals for retail customers not only through dealerships, but also through online advertising, social media, and word of mouth.
Using a PDR Estimating App that Pays for Itself
Justin decided to try Mobile Tech RX’s estimating and invoicing app for PDR because his friend Chase Clark, owner of Details & Dents in Greer, South Carolina, told him that it would pay for itself with just one retail customer. It turns out he was right.
“9 out of 10 of my customers don’t know anything about the PDR industry. No matter what I say something costs, they will always say they thought it would be cheaper. With Mobile Tech RX, it takes a lot of the negotiating out of the conversation. People trust what they see when I show them an estimate.”
“We were very green going into this business. As much research as we did prior to making the decision to ‘open the doors’, we’ve learned that PDR requires so much more skill, training, and knowledge than we had realized,” Kenny Craft said. “Mobile Tech RX has given us the confidence we need to create pricing that reflects the value of the work. Our customers know that they are getting a fair price and we know our business is getting compensated appropriately for the work we’re performing.”
Justin uses Mobile Tech RX every single day. The PDR app is versatile enough for him to use in different ways for each side of the business: dealership/wholesale, retail PDR, and hail.
Using Mobile Tech RX for All Sides of the PDR Business
Speed and Efficiency at Car Dealerships
For dealership lot work, the app helps Justin keep track of each dealership and save notes for himself inside each customer account. He also uses the photos and access information provided through the Comparative Pricing feature.
“The Mobile Tech RX app is something I use daily on my stops at the dealership lots. It helps me work quickly and efficiently when I have an entire list of cars to estimate at once” Justin said. “I can quickly type up an estimate from my phone and I can also go into the Comparative Pricing to see pictures and notes about access points for each panel.”
Higher Estimates for Retail
For retail work, Justin is able to create professional, non-negotiable estimates and make more money with every job. He can even use Mobile Tech RX when potential customers text him pictures of their vehicle and ask for an estimate.
“I get weekly retail customers, and that’s when Mobile Tech RX pays for itself. I price dents right in front of my customers and I can add R&I rates so that they can see what the same job would cost at a repair shop. It makes me look professional and helps me estimate higher.”
No Insurance Counter Offers for Hail Work
Justin has done a few hail cars over the past year, and in his experience, insurance companies take Mobile Tech RX estimates seriously. When he emails his Mobile Tech RX estimate to insurance companies, they don’t come back to him with a counter offer. They’ve simply paid the quote, no questions asked.
Learnings and Advice
Justin is the first to acknowledge that while the money in PDR is good, it’s not easy money. It takes time and dedication to learn the craft and it takes business acumen to make smart business decisions. Running a successful PDR business also takes persistence and persuasion to build up and retain a steady list of customers.
We asked Justin what advice he would give to someone who was just starting out in PDR, or what he would have done differently a year ago if he could. Here’s what he said:
- Keep learning. Going in, Justin didn’t know how hard PDR was from a technical standpoint. It’s an art form. In fact, he returns to Ding King to brush up on his skills.
- Don’t sell your work too cheap just to get customers. It’s tempting to do this when you’re starting out, but it hurts you in the long run. Using an estimating app like Mobile Tech RX helps you battle that struggle.
- Find mentors. Justin is part of the PDR Mentoring Group on Facebook, which is where he can learn from industry veterans. There are many people in the industry who are willing to help new techs get started.
Justin said he used to be stressed every time he visited a dealership, but today it feels more like clockwork. Justin’s goals are to keep his routes and add a few more over the next year. Longer term, he wants to focus on bigger growth. Eventually, he’d like to open a shop and add employees.