Performance & Hotrod Business - May '15

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46 n Performance & Hotrod Business n May 2015 HOTROD ing, doing body work and putting it together, but for them, it's their life-long dream." To support his customers, Pelletier makes sure to spend time with individuals who want to discuss their projects. "If your family is in town and you want to bring them by the shop, I'll spend an hour with them explaining all of the things we've done or will be doing to the car," he says. "We'll also take them around the shop and show them finished and in-prog- ress projects." Once the vehicle gets put on Camaro Plus' schedule, it spends about a week get- ting defoamed and stripped down. After the vehicle is bead blasted and stripped down to bare metal, it is assessed for what needs to be replaced, repaired or added, and original or aftermarket parts are sourced. When all of the necessary parts are obtained, a metal phase takes care of any rust, dents or necessary body work. Then, the vehicle enters a body work phase, which involves test fitting or welding to close up any gaps and make sure every- thing fits together perfectly. Before the vehicle is painted, it goes through a prime and block phase. Finally, the customer can take the vehi- cle home to put together or hire Camaros Plus to assemble it. "There's no ego here," Pelletier says. "A lot of shops say, 'we do it all or we don't do any of it,' but I'll coach my customers on what they can do to save money. Do what you can and what you can't do, put it in a box and bring it back here and we'll put those last few pieces on there for you. It can sometimes save them between 50 to 100 hours of labor, which can be upwards of $10,000." Finding the Right Customers When customers go through a process with a vehicle on their own, they also find out how much labor is actually involved in a job, which Pelletier says is one of his biggest challenges. "The hardest thing is matching up perceived value with what people want to spend and think they should spend," he says. "Some people are still caught in the '70s and '80s when you could buy enough paint to do your car for $100 at the paint store—and now it costs $2,000." Pelletier says factors like investing in the right skilled employees and equipment, infrastructure cost, complying with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the effects of Obama Care have all trickled down to increase the price of running a business like Camaros Plus over the past few years. Consequently, Pelletier says he had to learn how to attract customers that are willing to pay for the quality of work, rather than individuals who are seeking cheaper rates. "I've been very fortunate to have the freedom and ability to work on stuff for free if I want to," he says. "But I've had to put my foot down and tell myself to stop doing that. You have to charge for your time, and I've lost some customers from doing that, but it's not a bad thing." Pelletier's efforts have cultivated Camaros Plus' strong return customer base, which also helps with the shop's marketing efforts. "It's such a costly part of the process that if you have someone who doesn't know what they're doing or cutting corners, it could cost you your reputation," says Pelletier, who performs all of Camaros Plus' paint work.

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