In 1999 the first wave of consolidators noticed the store’s success. They wanted a piece of what they have seen, and Sterling Autobody Centers purchased the business. Mike stayed with the company as a business advisor. In 2005 together with his son Michael they started DCR. Michael currently heads up DCR and Mike remains a business advisor there. In 2010 Mike placed his daughters Laurie & Jill in the business with LJI Collision Centers with two locations. Mike currently works the production floor in these shops.
Mike has during all this time been an extremely dedicated force when it comes to doing the right thing within his walls for his staff and technicians as well as an unwavering spirited supporter of delivery of the highest
Collision Repair Legends
Before many of us were thought of there were minds at work putting this great industry together. One of them is Mike Giarrizzo Sr. and in the 1950s began refurbishing cars for friends and family in his grandfather’s gas station, Johnny’s Service. There was a lot more service in the service station back then. In the 1960’s Mike took things to a specialized Body & Paint operation. In the late ’80s, the name was changed to JSI Collision Specialists. By 1998 there were four locations, and it was a family affair with son Michael and daughter Laurie contributing to the operation. At one point there were 9 family members involved in the business. quality repair product possible.
I was able to ask Mike a few questions on how he operates hugely successful businesses and what he attributes his success to. Here is a bit of his response: by Bill Sefcek
Business has a BRAND to it, what did you do to create, instill and engage your entire staff into the delivery of the promise ?
M.G: I engineered into the business first from Pur-pose. My reason is to provide unequaled customer service and then loyalty to that service, this is in our DNA. To do this I must have the right people. The environment and the culture, I create and demand, shape the purpose, the mission to achieve it and ultimately our Brand.
Through sincere transparency I afford clarity to my expectations. In a staff interview I intentionally investigate character, belief systems and passions. To a high degree skill can be taught and sharpened through education and training. Afterward I have new staff to our home for a dinner and along with their spouse we discuss the journey we are about to take on to assure an understanding of expecta-tions. We share all the intricacies of employment so that all are on board – or not.
With our customers the same approach with trans-parency is taken. We work to satisfy the need. Today they came to us because that is what we do. We manage the understanding the customer has for what to expect through the process. There is enjoyment in affording this to the customer in the form personal satisfaction for the staff, loyalty of the customer to the integrity of our word and ulti-mately retention of both the staff and customer for life. For me that is success of Purpose, Mission and Brand
I have read your reviews and those of your past ventures and find them out of the ordinary. How do you see them ?
M.G: The reviews we receive are of sincere appreci-ation. Bill, you advised me there are words like love and blessed used in many of them. We treat each customer as they are the only one to have our attention. We communicate, explain and are pro-active. We show sincere interest letting them know they can always count on us. We deliver this.
Customer loyalty for life is talked about every day along with actions. This is what we do. I am known as the “Fixer”, I take the approach to any and all issues of “what can we do”. By example This permeates through the mindset of our entire staff.
So much of the collision repair business relies on workshop environment What drives that for you ?
M.G: I have always been efficiency minded. I was brought up in and at a young age worked in a high demand for service community. I learned and was coached by some of the absolute best out there, the customers. My ability to listen and be teacha-ble provided me the lessons and direction I hold as truths today and have refined them throughout my career. Our customers cars are not just cars they are Mr. Smiths Porsche or Mrs. DeAngelo’s Sienna. We work for people.
I provide that same minded environment in build-ing the culture of my work floor. I Provide what is needed at the highest level – NO degradation in resources, a highly system-oriented workflow and a rewarding sense of accomplishment highlighting and appreciating talent. There is separation be-tween the administrative and production tasks to assure focus. There is no compromise in our in-tegrity. The culture created in this feeds the on-going culture and engagement we enjoy.
I know you are not done yet and at 80+ Mike how do you see your legacy ?
M.G: believe that my inspiration for community, my dedication to purpose, and my deep family val-ues have guided my life towards success in business and pride of fulfillment. I have and want to continue developing people passing on the love I have for people.
The love of the game keeps me in the collision repair business, my purpose, and up to a challenge of for-ever searching for the value in the best I can be. Not done yet.
I have family around me every day. I am introducing the fourth generation into collision repair with my grandchildren. I have been blessed with phenome-nal family members working successfully in the colli-sion repair business delivering at a high level the love for the game !! Not much better that this. I am a winner.
Of enormous importance is the culture of a shop and technician retention, how do you see this now and in the future for them ?
M.G: have had the blessing of having technicians retire from our business. They have spent their en-tire career with me and our family. The word pride comes to mind. Being transparent with every aspect of the working environment means we communicate, collaborate and engage in the dynamic of every day. I encourage and expect input, we meet as a group to discuss situations and evolution opportunities imme-diately and come to a workable resolve, revise or take action as needed. This high level of engage-ment keeps ahead of the demand coming through the door. We work to not allow undermining influ-ences or upcoming fall backs from entering the cul-ture. I talk to the actions that I see be them good or troubled. Do they represent the expectation and adjust them through example ? Our culture takes particularly good care of these opportunities.
Technicians are the collision repair business. With-out them there would be no product. They are gen-erally suffering out there. They are required to train develop and execute at a level they are not always being compensated for. Providing them an oppor-tunity to succeed not only helps them in their pas-sionate demonstration of talent it gives my business a purpose and the reputation of my sustaining the Brand promise.
As an employer I have my part to do, and I do it, ex-pecting the employee to do theirs. There is no great-er satisfaction as an owner than the “Great High” of customer delivery. Appreciation of the technician for getting me there must also be part of it each time. No customer product delivery is complete without it.
The future of repair demand increases, and intricacy is inevitable, and we train constantly, share perspec-tives and study performance. The attention to clean-liness, health issues, systems-oriented efficiencies and procedures will remain an increasing industry influence. Regardless of how the customer comes to us they receive the same level of attention to their needs. We provide for the ultimate customer experi-ence and we internally take care of the rest. The technicians are compensated based upon the deliv-ery of this promise. As models of reimbursement platforms are many and change often, we do not compromise in the level of quality provided.
We provide comprehensive forms of support for our actions to educate where needed and preserve our customer expectations. There is balance and we work to achieve the absolute best operational re-sults.