Matt Moore is founder and owner of EZ Dent, a dent repair shop based in the Athens, Georgia area. Read on to learn how this self-taught entrepreneur built a successful PDR business and his tips for success.
A Unique Service Offering
Matt has created a unique service offering at EZ Dent. He’s built what he describes as a hybrid between a body shop and a PDR business, which he believes can best serve his customers.
“The model that I describe to a lot of customers is that we’re an urgent care facility,” he explains. He uses that analogy because he treats every job like an urgent care patient. The goal is to be less expensive, less invasive, and faster than the alternative options.
Taking the Next Step
Unlike others in the PDR industry, Matt was not driven by the creativity in the work. He had a good job with his one-man mobile business, but he didn’t see the long-term value. He decided that if PDR was going to be his career, he needed to take a next step. For him, that meant investing in a retail location and hiring a team.
“I felt like I was going to go crazy just being by myself and doing dents out of the back of my truck,” he says. “For me, I started trying to figure out what it looked like to take the step and make a real business out of the skills that I had.”
Here are Matt’s eight tips for building a successful business:
Matt Moore’s Tips for Creating Success
1. Be Strategic in Hiring
Matt’s first step was to focus on educating himself on running a business. To start, he read a lot of books on the subject. During this time, he recognized that he didn’t need to do everything himself. In fact, he couldn’t do everything himself to run a successful business.
“I needed to stay in a lane and do that well and then hire others that had different skill sets that were probably better than mine…and then hire them to do the job,” he says.
Matt takes a pragmatic approach to his hiring process. He looks at his own strengths and weaknesses and then decides how to play to them. He wanted to spend more time doing the things he was good at and enjoyed, then he hired out the other areas.
“What I’ve found is that production goes through the roof because you have people who are experts at one thing,” he says.
Matt’s team at EZ Dent is now made up of group of professionals with very specialized skills. He considers it one of his jobs to help nurture them.
“Build a culture that when they come on board, you’re constantly building that value,” he says.
2. Play to Your Strengths
Matt realized that he preferred working in the retail space, because there was more opportunity for him to compete outside of price. And this played better to his skills and passions.
“I like building the brand and the value. In the wholesale world, it was all about cheapness. In retail, it’s a lot more nuanced. It’s more about the relationships and the quality. And you get a lot more repeat business once you’ve earned their business once.”
From there, Matt saw the growth potential in retail and felt ready to take the next step and open a shop. He also knew from experience that there were jobs he was having to turn down as a mobile business, which he could have done at a physical location.
3. Build a Process
Matt’s advice for anyone considering the next step is to figure out what you want first. He explains the importance of recognizing the difference between having a shop (which can be a relatively simple), a one-man operation at a physical location, and running a business.
“If you want to make the shift to owning a business, you have to realize that it’s not something that you’re going to be able to do on your own,” Matt says.
For Matt, starting a business was about process-orienting the shop to make it as efficient as possible, so that’s why he made his first two hires straight away. He created a 14-step process for every job and he narrowed his input down to two areas: the initial marketing and the pushing of the dents. Every other step in the process was then delegated to his new hires.
While he had significant overhead costs from the beginning, Matt was taking a calculated risk. He already had an established mobile business, so he was able to project that he could carry it over, plus the additional revenue from his investment in the location and employees.
4. Find Ways to Compete Outside of Price
Matt has never competed on price alone, because he sees it as a race to the bottom. Instead, he has focused his efforts on creating value.
When Matt started out, he had one big wholesale account that made up around 40% of his income. That client decided to move their dent repair in-house, and Matt lost that income overnight. It taught him a valuable lesson.
“I can’t ever afford, from a business standpoint, to put myself in a position where someone else can come in and be $5 cheaper than me or someone in a boardroom can make a decision that affects me and that I have zero control over,” he says.
From that moment, he realized that if he could sell his services around his brand, then the price was no longer the main factor. That let him regain control.
5. Invest in Your Brand
He’s since worked hard on his marketing strategy. At one point, he even rebranded his logo and website.
Matt recognizes that are different types of customer in the market and so he has targeted those who are willing to pay more to get a superior product.
Matt was early to invest in Google AdWords, for which he partnered with another firm to help him get set up. He also worked on building effective landing pages on his website.
While he is a firm believer in the effectiveness of marketing, he warns anyone starting out not to expect immediate results. In his case, it took five years to really start seeing the return on some of his marketing investments. But it was worth the wait.
6. Don’t Tread Water
When it came to the financial aspects of the business, Matt had to educate himself. He talked to people he trusted, read books, and went through a trial and error process. One thing he warns any business owner against is not actively trying to grow.
“I really believe as a business owner, the worst thing you can do is tread water…You do that for long enough and you drown,” he says.
For this reason, he’s always looking for his next move at EZ Dent. And while he admits he’s not always taken the right steps, he’s a firm believer in learning from that and moving forward.
“For me, sitting still is never an option,” he says.
7. Don’t be Afraid of Failure
To be successful in business, Matt has learned that sometimes you have to take risks. The key is to then learn from the outcome and move forward.
“You can’t let one victory or one failure dictate your value to the market,” he says.
You have to be able to make decisions based on what you know is going to be best for you and your business. In other words, don’t put too much on what other people say and accept that sometime you’re going to fail. Matt has not let failures stop him. If anything failure has only emboldened him to do better going forward.
8. Lean into What You Love
Matt has had a creative approach to growth at EZ Dent and it’s paid off. But one philosophy he’s maintained throughout his career is to focus on his strengths and bring in others to help with his weaknesses.
“You’re going to have a higher level of success if it’s something you love doing,” Matt says. “I would say lean into the parts that you love and don’t try to be something you’re not.”
This is one feature of Prescribing Growth – a series of interviews with auto recon industry leaders. In this series, we share the experts’ stories and they get to talk about their tips and tricks of running a successful business.