Business Type: Auto Body and Paint
Business Type: Auto Glass
Business Type: Washing and Detailing
Blankenship Collision Center, LLC
Over the years, entrepreneurs have chosen the collision-repair profession for a number of reasons. Many were hobbyists who eventually followed a dream into the profession, and many have followed a father or some other family member into a body shop career. For Seth Blankenship, there was no particular dream or anyone to follow. He just didn't have a clue what he wanted to do after high school until the right set of circumstances presented itself. This did not occur, however, until Blankenship had set off down another path or two.
"When I got out of high school, I didn't know what I wanted to do and I was just kinda floating ... 'cause my mom was pushing me to go to college and I was burnt out on school and I didn't want to go to college. So then I went to work at TRW."
It seems that a few months at TRW working 12-hour days seven days a week opened the young man's eyes, and put him in just the right frame of mind to continue his education. "So I went to Vol State for about a year and a half."
At this point, Blankenship was pressured to choose a major course of study and he had to admit that he still didn't know what he wanted to do with his life.
He did, however, have a friend with a business called Hewitt's Body Shop in Lafayette, Tennessee, roughly 15 miles down the road from where his present shop is located. His friend asked him to come to work with him to "test drive" the business, so to speak. "So I went up there and took a couple of cars apart and said, 'Hmmm, I like this pretty good.'"
After finally deciding what career path he would follow, the next stop found him enrolling in the Nashville Auto Diesel College. The road to his eventual success got a little long and winding at this point, however. He had planned to go right back to Lafayette and work with his friend again, but there was no opening available, so he went to Nashville to work for Bradshaw Collision. "I worked there for about three months then he shipped me to Cool Springs and teamed me up with another guy who pretty much taught me everything," Blankenship said. His mentor, Harold, passed away leaving the young man "pretty much on my own." He stayed at Bradshaw's roughly two-and-a-half years, then went back to Hewitt's for a couple of years before again working for Bradshaw's, this time in Madison, Tennessee.
He has now been working in this field 12 years, and after going back and forth between shops as an employee, he now has his own shop.
A concern for many shops nationwide was identified by Blankenship as one of the biggest problems confronting his business. "What we run into is the customers not getting them fixed like they used to," he lamented. "They get the money and run." Because many individuals do not want to, or are simply not able to, pay their deductibles, they are not fixing a car that is drivable. "They want to put that money toward some other bill that they owe," he explained. "I'd say that's fifty percent of the reason that the body shop industry is kind of up and down - roller-coastering."
Blankenship Collision Center encompasses a total of 7500 square feet. Blankenship prides himself in having state-of-the-art equipment, including two UniCure fully downdraft paint booths on either side of a paint mixing room. They shoot Spies Hecker paints at this shop. His frame rack is a MegaRack 360 which will handle both unibody and full-frame vehicles, and the Touch computerized measuring system. He utilizes CCC Pathways estimating software. The shop also has a spot welder which puts in factory spot welds, says Blankenship.
Blankenship, who is a preacher, has an immediate answer when queried about the reason for his success thus far in his chosen profession: "That would be God," he said before explaining his rationale. "I wanted to put this shop in Gallatin, 'cause there's more volume in Gallatin."
Blankenship says that the shop is in Hartsville instead because he feels that God led him to its present location. "If you put it in his hands, it seems to work out a lot easier than if you try to do it on your own."
One day Blankenship's father told him the land where the shop now stands was going to be sold by the co-op that owned it, and he was able to purchase it before it actually hit the market.
Blankenship feels that it has gotten easier to deal with customers as he goes along in business, but he does not attribute this to any change in them, rather to his own growth both in age and in the business. "It's beginning to get easier to deal with them because I'm beginning to be able to read people more. Instead of just saying 'Okay, we're going to fix your car,' and then just blowing them out the door, I try to get to know them as I'm writing the estimate." He likes to talk to customers about their families and try to develop a personal connection with them, he says. "I like to make them comfortable, make them feel welcome."
He also believes that his relationships with insurance companies are going in the right direction. "They are definitely getting better I would say. You've still got one or two off-the-wall insurance companies that are really hard to get along with." These particular difficult companies are ones that typically cut estimates, he says, but he believes that for the most part the insurers he deals with are fair and are easy to get along with.
And what will be the biggest challenge for his business in the future? Customer relations is his answer. "Just keeping the customers happy. You know, as far as getting them in here and making them feel welcome. If someone doesn't feel welcome, they aren't gonna come back. So that's one of my biggest goals, to keep my customers happy," he said.
Blankenship Collision Center is located at 293 McMurry Blvd. West in Hartsville. You can reach them at (615) 374-2332 or Toll Free 1-877-374-2332.
|Services:||Collision, wrecks, Insurance claims, Collision repair, rebuildable wrecks, Cars,Tucks, SUV, Seth Blankenship, ASE Certified, Auto wrecks, Repair, Painting, Automotive Body, Interior Repairs, Paint, Body Work, Service, Rebuildable Wrecked Cars, Frame Work, Windshields|
|Neighborhoods:||Lafayette, Red Boiling Springs, Tennessee, Hartsville, Westmoreland, Gallatin, Lebanon, Jackson County, Macon County, Smith County, Carthage, Wilson, Sumner, Portland, Celina, Clay|