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Dings, Dents and Dollars! Paintless Dent Repair,
A Profitable Add-On Service

 by Stephen Powers and Prentice St. Clair

If you have been thinking about adding another profit center to your auto reconditioning operation, paintless dent repair (PDR) should definitely be on your list of possibilities.  The advantages are many and the disadvantages are few.  The first and primary advantage that comes to mind is the fact that you are already in an auto-related industry with an established clientele that already trusts your work.  To drop another auto-related profit center like PDR into your existing operation will be quite easy.  In addition, offering PDR will attract a broader new customer base that will benefit both your PDR business and the other auto reconditioning services you offer.

First of all, what is paintless dent repair?  PDR is a method of removing small dents and dings from the painted sheet metal panels of a vehicle using a specialized set of tools and techniques to carefully "massage" out the damage without affecting the paint.  PDR techniques are typically limited to repairs in which there has been no damage to the paint.  However, some PDR technicians also offer professional paint touch-up (yet another profit center) for those dings that involve small paint chips.  PDR eliminates the need for expensive and time consuming traditional auto body work for small dents that almost every car has experienced.  We've all seen them, those small dings resulting from the impact of a wayward shopping cart or carelessly opened door in a parking lot.  And, as Joe Babbey, sales manager for in San Diego, California points out, "A good hail storm can wreak havoc on a dealer's lot full of cars--can you say, 'gold mine?!?'"

The Advantages of a Paintless Dent Repair Business 

Let's talk about some of the many advantages of PDR.

  No product cost:  Unlike your current operation, product cost is virtually non-existent.  Yes, there is an initial investment in tools and training, but once in operation, there are no supplies that need replacing.

  High profit potential:  An experienced technician can execute a $100 repair in about 10-20 minutes--you do the math.

  Ground floor opportunity:  Although PDR has been around for several years, the average car owner on the street is not yet familiar with it.  Yet the average car owner can also probably point out to you every ding on his or her late model car.  Imagine the customer's reaction when you indicate that you can remove most of those for a fraction of the cost and inconvenience of traditional auto body work.

  Potential customers are everywhere!  Just as in other auto reconditioning services, you have a huge potential customer base that includes new and used car dealerships, auto auctions, rental car agencies, insurance agencies, car washes, detail shops, body shops, and, of course, retail.

  Ease of operation:  PDR can easily be added to your current operation.  If you are mobile, the space requirements for a set of PDR tools is minimal.  Thus, no worries about having to purchase a new or larger vehicle.  On the other hand, if you operate a fixed location, no need to add a new bay for PDR; the work can be done right where you usually do your glass work.  And best of all, whether you are fixed or mobile, you have a captive audience.  For a vehicle that is already in for detailing, paint touch-up, interior repair or windshield repair, it takes just a moment to walk around it to inspect for dents and dings.  Better yet, it takes just one more moment to say to the customer, "By the way, I noticed a couple of dings on the driver door.  We can take care of that for you right now."

  Low start-up costs:  PDR training and equipment will cost $5,000 to $15,000, depending on the quality of the equipment and how much training is actually included.  Comparing this expense to start-up costs in other businesses, even the high end of the range is certainly a minimal amount to spend, especially when you consider the profit potential of a well-run PDR operation.

  An easy sell:  You are offering the customer an option that costs about one quarter that of traditional auto body work.  Plus PDR takes from a few minutes for a small repair to about an hour for multiple repairs.  Compare this time requirement to the several days that a traditional body shop requires to effect even the smallest repair.  Today's consumer is concerned mainly with two things:  convenience and saving money.  The greater of the two is convenience, and with PDR, you can offer both.

The Disadvantages of a Paintless Dent Repair Business 
Now the disadvantages.  Well, there's really only one, which centers around the fact that PDR techniques involve a certain amount of finesse.  Because of this, it is not wise to simply purchase some PDR tools and a training manual and try to do it on your own.  Instead, you really need to have extensive hands-on training from a qualified professional PDR trainer.  And, yes, this puts your start-up cost at the more expensive end of the scale mentioned earlier.  Also, you can expect to spend one to three weeks in training with a high-quality training provider.  Furthermore, this finesse can really only be developed through extensive practice.  Therefore, it is strongly recommended, even after extensive hands-on training, that the new PDR technician practice several hundred repairs at, for example, a junk yard or low-end used car lot.  In the case of the latter, offer the work for free.  Get in there and practice your new skill until you are competent and confident enough to go into any large car dealer and do a great job.

This may seem like an extensive commitment to a new profit center, but remember the profit potential.  More importantly, remember that you have a leg up on the person who has never been in the auto service industry.  Since you have experience in this industry, you already possess many of the qualities necessary for success with PDR (e.g., mechanical inclination, sales ability, determination to succeed).  Nonetheless, you may want to consider having a dedicated employee devote full-time effort to learning PDR so that your glass business does not suffer while you add PDR to it.

Tools and Training
As you research PDR training providers, you will find that there are a number of options available.  In choosing a PDR training outfit, Joe Babbey from makes the following recommendations:

  Don't be misled by the promise of an extensive or highly specialized tool set.  A common misconception regarding PDR equipment is that, the more tools you have, the more dents you can repair.  In fact, a skilled PDR technician uses less than ten tools for 80% of all repairs, despite the fact that many PDR training outfits will offer expensive kits with dozens of tools.  Most companies buy their tools from one of three manufacturers.  The bottom line is, the tools are basically the same, so focus on the quality of the training you will receive.

  The best training is in a setting that provides a low trainer-trainee ratio with extensive supervised practice and the opportunity to work extensively on real cars.  Length of training should be two or more weeks for the proper amount of supervised practice.  Beware the training company that says, "OK!  You're ready to go make some money!"  As mentioned, earlier, extensive individual practice is needed even after the training experience.

  Be sure that the training outfit will provide you with extensive marketing information and advertising ideas.  It's great to have a new skill, but if you are not educated on how to market that skill, you might as well not have it.  Although you are probably already familiar with basic marketing and advertising techniques, it is essential to learn special tips and tricks that are particular to the PDR business--and there are many.

  Finally, look for a company that will provide you with continuing technical support far beyond your initial training foundation, because you will have questions when you get back home and apply your new skill.  A good provider will have regular technical updates, phone support, and may even invite you to return to the training facility to sit in on a future class, if you feel it's necessary.

The bottom line is that, given the proper investment of time and effort, paintless dent repair offers a tremendous potential as an added profit center to the established auto reconditioning business. offers training and equipment for paintless dent repair, wheel repair, paint touch up, windshield repair, interior repair, paint protection film, vehicle graphics and other automotive restoration services. 


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