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
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 Rightlook.com
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
Yes, there is an initial investment in tools
and training, but once in operation, there are no supplies
that need replacing.
An experienced technician can execute a $100
repair in about 10-20 minutes--you do the math.
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
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.
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."
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.
You are offering the customer an option that
costs about one quarter that of traditional auto body
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
and saving money.
The greater of the two is convenience, and with
PDR, you can offer both.
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
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
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
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 Rightlook.com makes the following recommendations:
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
The bottom line is, the tools are basically the
same, so focus on the quality of the training you will
• 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.
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.
Rightlook.com 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