After many years operating a full-service collision center successfully in Holmesville, Rabatin took a calculated risk in building a second location in Wooster, opening in 2009. It turned out to be a wise move, as business at both locations has improved since then. “The business here at the Wooster location has grown even more than we anticipated,” he said. “We’re at the point now that we expected to be three years from now.” Such unusual results in a business expansion start making better sense when Rabatin explains more about his way of doing business. He describes it not as something special that he has done, but rather in terms of his fine customers, who not only return regularly, but also refer their friends to the business.
Rabatin is quick to give credit to the Wooster business community for part of his company’s success. He can list dozens of local suppliers who are part of the network AutoWorks uses in returning an automobile to its former condition. AutoWorks benefits from the convenience of local mechanic shops, tire dealers, new car dealerships, a number of auto parts suppliers, an excellent glass shop, towing companies and even a sign shop. The kind of service that AutoWorks offers to their customers comes not simply out of their own shop. It’s really a group effort of businesses, suppliers of parts and services, that work together to provide everything necessary to restore a vehicle to the best condition possible.
But the heart of the work, the magic of restoration, still happens inside the walls of the AutoWorks facilities. “We’re always working at improving training and equipment and employees,” said Rabatin. “We’re trying to get them better educated, with training and certification.” If a key piece of equipment is needed for his technicians to work more efficiently, or to do a part of the job better, AutoWorks will want to have it.
It’s a constant part of the business too, to stay current with changes in vehicle design and engineering. Rabatin cited as an example the complexity of working with supplemental restraint systems, or airbags. “Supplemental restraint systems in vehicles are always a challenge,” he said. “You need to have the diagnostic equipment, and keep that updated.” That’s one of the things where working with car dealerships is necessary to return the systems to proper working condition.
While many people view dealing with insurance companies as unpleasant at best and generally difficult, Rabatin considers insurance companies to be a key part of his success. AutoWorks makes it their business to be easy for insurance companies and adjusters to deal with, not just for their own sake, but because it makes for a better experience for AutoWorks customers. He considers the insurance companies interest key in making sure vehicles are returned to the road in optimal condition, both in appearance, and in safety.
For Rabatin, working with other businesses, establishing the relationships, is something he enjoys. “I’m a people person,” he said. He also sees a key part of his success as his commitment to having his employees work in positions they really enjoy. “It’s extremely important to me not only to hire people who are skilled but people who are happy, where it’s not just a job, but people actually like what they do.”
For AutoWorks, doing more than is required is part of their culture. “We don’t try to just do what we have to,” said Rabatin. “Anytime we can do a little extra for a customer, we try to do that. Part of our service is to find out what our customer needs, not what we need. If we’re just here because of what we need, we’re missing the point.” That focus on customer needs seems to have served the company well, with a strong following of repeat customers, and a growing reputation in the local business community.
Rabatin sees one indicator of the quality work his shop turns out simply in the fact that insurance adjusters not only refer their customers to AutoWorks, they will bring their personal vehicles to AutoWorks for any needed repairs as well.
New to the company in the last year are manager Dave Watson and parts manager Paul Reilly. But while the men are new at AutoWorks, both have been in the business for at least 25 years, even working together previously. “They’ve worked together before, so they know how to do that,” said Rabatin. “They bring a very high level of quality, and that’s very important to me.” AutoWorks has also added a new collision repair technician.
With a staff of highly trained employees and a network of supporting businesses, Dave Rabatin has good reason to expect growth in 2011 at AutoWorks Collision Center.
Published: January 15, 2011