Car accidents can be a traumatic experience, and afterward, body shops are the last place people want to visit. Jesse and Cathy Ruhmann wanted to help alleviate that stress for customers. That’s why they broke off on their own in 2015 to open Referral Collision in Shakopee, Minnesota.
At Referral Collision, the Ruhmanns have created an atmosphere where they are their customers’ advocates. This outlook helped them quickly grow from a three-person operation to a team of seven. Then seven became 11, and they expanded their shop twice. Yet still, working in only one paint booth quickly became a bottleneck.
A New Business Model
At the beginning of 2019, Referral Collision expanded for the third time, bringing their footprint up to 24,000 square feet. They now have two separate facilities — a customer care center and a production facility.
The customer care center is where all customer interactions take place, as well as vehicle detailing, scanning and glasswork. From there, the production facility handles all of the vehicle repairs, including bodywork, prep work and painting. The repaired cars are then return to the customer care center. Customers pick their cars up inside, away from rain, snow and cold.
“Customers expect a good product returned to them,” Jesse said. “We try to go the extra mile to take care of them. Whether they need us to pick up their car, deliver it, detail it — anything. We work for the customer and do what we can to make it the best experience possible.”
The acquisition of the new space also created new opportunities for Referral Collision to repair more than just cars. Included in their new production facility is a 65-foot-long truck paint booth. This allows them to paint tractors, trailers and even fire trucks for the local fire department.
Adding A New Automotive Paint Booth
With their new production facility, the Ruhmanns were looking to purchase a new automotive paint booth. A new spray booth would allow them to avoid the hassle of taking down, transporting and reinstalling their existing one. They had done the same thing years ago when they started up the business and purchased a used paint booth.
“We said we’d never take it down and put it together again,” said Cathy. “It would take too many man hours and stop our production,” added Jesse.
The Ruhmanns knew they wanted a quality automotive paint booth in order to produce excellent paint jobs that their customers expect.
“We’re working hard to build our brand,” Cathy added. “We need to be on the forefront of everything we do and everything we have, including equipment. We’re not afraid to invest in quality equipment to have quality jobs. Especially when all of our work comes from word of mouth.”
Chassis Liner Supply Assists in the Purchase, Installation
Referral Collision began researching new paint booth options. They consulted with other shop owners and their local distributor, Tom Vandehey of Chassis Liner Supply. They ultimately decided on an Ultra® XD Paint Booth from Global Finishing Solutions (GFS). They outfitted their downdraft paint booth with a two-row pit, dual-skin panels, LED lighting and AdvanceCure® Systems.
“We had a bunch of different companies come in. In the long run, GFS was a better fit in terms of service, response and parts availability,” stated Cathy.
Their local distributor delivered and installed the equipment in a timely manner, without stopping production.
“We felt comfortable making a big purchase with Chassis Liner. We knew we would get the support that we needed,” Jesse complimented. “Whether it’s parts, installation, technical questions, etc. And it’s a nice paint booth.”
Ultra Paint Booth Solves Bottleneck
Their new Ultra XD Paint Booth has been up and running for a month, and has helped alleviate their bottleneck.
“With two paint booths, we have the capability to paint about five to six cars at a time,” Jesse stated. “Or if you have a large, specialty job, it doesn’t stop you from doing other work. While we paint a trailer in the truck paint booth, we can keep pushing cars through the GFS spray booth.”
As for their GFS Ultra Paint Booth, it is a means to an end in order to keep their customers happy. They are producing higher-quality finishes, getting it done right the first time and getting cars back to customers faster.
“The customer is our primary focus,” said Ben Furuseth, marketing director for Referral Collision. “If our equipment can help us return cars faster, nicer and cleaner, we are doing a better job for our customers. The new paint booth also keeps our employees safe and productive.”