When a vehicle owner arrives at Clay Hoberecht’s body shop after an accident, he frequently says, “You’re making decisions about your life and your family’s safety is depending on it—we’ve got your back.”
Hoberecht, owner of Best Body Shop in Wichita, KS, is passionate about providing outstanding service to customers. He does this by maintaining a culture of humility and expertise. Prior to opening the facility in 2014, Hoberecht built hot rods.
“I quickly realized that the collision industry had some serious issues and consumers needed someone to be an ally for them,” he said. “I didn’t see anybody doing that, so I made the decision to pursue collision repair.”
As a result, Hoberecht opened a 2,700-square-foot shop. As his business grew over the years, he expanded the facility in 2016. After taking over the building next door, it now operates in a 10,000-squarefoot facility, focusing on collision repair, body painting, paintless dent repair (PDR), car restoration, hail damage and other services.
“We are a consumer-driven shop and 100% of our repairs are based on manufacturers’ guidelines,” said Hoberecht. The shop has no DRPs or contracts with insurance companies. Transparency is a top priority. Inside his facility, the paint booth has two walls of glass so customers can view vehicles while they are being refi nished. He also records live videos of repairs and posts them on the shop’s social media channels, which include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Currently, they have more than 210,000 Facebook followers.
“Our Facebook and Instagram platforms educate customers, so they know what we are doing,” he said. “People seem to really enjoy it and I’ve received a ton of feedback.” About three years ago, Hoberecht set out to purchase a resistance spot welder and measuring system. He was looking for a company where he could purchase his tools and equipment in one place.
He contacted Timothy W. Morgan, COO at Spanesi Americas, and soon found they had similar views when it came to producing low-volume, high-quality work. “With some tools on the market, you buy them and the next year they have to be replaced,” said Hoberecht. “I told Tim that was one of my fears; I don’t have a lot of money and the ability to buy a new welder every two years.”
Hoberecht felt Spanesi would be a great fi t for what he was looking for, and Morgan drove from Chicago to Wichita with a resistance spot welder. “It blew me away when he did that,” said Hoberecht. The body shop owner appreciated the quality of the Spanesi welder and purchased it for his shop. He was also impressed that many Spanesi products can be updated remotely.
In the years following Hoberecht’s initial welder purchase, he invested in an aluminum dent repair system and the Spanesi Q5.2 three torch MIG/MAG welder. When Hoberecht considered expanding, he asked Morgan for advice based on his past experience and success. “I was scared to death moving into the location I’m in now and I called him and told him I didn’t know what to do,” said Hoberecht. He said Morgan acted as a coach and is grateful for his encouragement.
“I can’t imagine where I would be without it,” said Hoberecht. “It has been an incredible experience working with a hands-on owner like Clay Hoberecht,” said Morgan. “Clay has the vision and drive to push his business goals beyond normal boundaries. This creates immense opportunities for him. We have been able to methodically collaborate on a progressive business plan to reach his objectives.
“Clay’s drive never stops nor do his ideas for improving his facility’s operations, so we probably have some more surprises coming in the future.” Hoberecht predicts a big change is coming in regard to how cars are repaired, how shops communicate with customers and their relationships with insurance companies.
“I hope to be at the front of the change,” he said. As result, he revamped his shop during the downtime created by the pandemic. Spanesi was instrumental in the remodel. Over the past several months, Hoberecht worked closely with Morgan to design the new layout based on Spanesi’s 360-Degree Concept. This includes a complete line of OEM-approved products, as well as ongoing training and support.
Best Body Shop was outfitted with a Spanesi Michelangelo spray booth, an aluminum room, a Spanesi Multibench, Universal jigs, a lift and a damage analysis cart where the shop keeps triage equipment and scanning devices. Compared to the shop's old spray booth, Hoberecht said his employees have found 95% less dirt using the Michelangelo. He has also found Spanesi’s Touch measuring system to be very accurate.
“The tools and equipment work really well and the shop fl ow is unbelievable,” he said. “Our average repair order (RO) has gone up significantly because we are finding damage and we’re more accurate with measurements.”
This has also helped the team communicate with customers more clearly about the repair process. “It’s not just me saying what I think should happen,” he said. “We have the data behind it.” Hoberecht recently had a customer come in and look at her car jigged up on the frame machine with the new Spanesi equipment.
“She told me, ‘I don’t want my car anywhere else. This is how a car is supposed to be repaired.’”