We were extremely impressed with the shops we visited in South Australia this year. I always think of South Australia as very 'Methodist'. It's the least 'showy' state and compared to other states its shop exteriors and customer facilities have been very plain in the past. With customer expectations always on an upward curve it was great to see reinvigorated shops looking modern, welcoming and professional.
Mount Pleasant Crash Repairs
We started with a breathtaking, crisp morning drive up to the Adelaide Hills to see what husband and wife team Tom and Lucia Campaniello have been up to since we last visited back in 2012. The answer is a great deal. A totally refurbished customer service and administration area and boardroom greeted us. The workshop has been expanded, redesigned and has a new paint shop.
Next up was Gawler Bodyworks where Greg Sambell showed us around. A stunning green and black ultra modern shop front can't be missed from the road, we liked the huge Valspar Kingfisher on the frontage too. A great customer service area inside continues the strong branding. This is a busy and productive shop with its fair share of heavy hits which has spread out across a number of sheds as its customer base and staff has expanded.
Smithfield Collision Repair Centre
This is a huge shop expertly run by the Napoli family. It is superbly equipped and specialises in 4-wheel drive repairs and maintenance. An RAA approved repairer, this one-stop shop has a sizeable mechanical repair operation that also services customer cars. A huge, well organised parts room is a credit to the parts manager.
The Body Repair Shop
Mick Carusso is a clever operator - he has an iron grip on his financials and embraces digital technology to help run this large, productive operation. Carusso bought the huge unit next to his original shop and has built a new fast track operation from the ground up, separating heavy and light repairs, more than doubling the Body Repair Shop's footprint. The new building has great kerb appeal and offers an inviting area for customers that's beautifully decorated in sharp black and white hues.
Carrisbrook Collision Repair Centre
Carrisbrook is the other enormous shop run by the Napoli family - this one is run by the second generation Ben Napoli. They bought the shop back in 2011 and effected a huge clean up operation and formalising workflow. A new Lowbake paint shop with drive-through booths has recently been installed along with a new three-bay detailing area. It's a high volume shop with every nook and cranny utilised.
Varricchio's Crash Repairs
From behemoth to boutique, we popped into Varricchio's Crash Repairs. Michael Varricchio and his small team have reorganised and tidied up the shop since we visited a few years ago and it presents well. The shop would benefit from a formal prep bay which Varricchio is considering - small shops are tricky to plan. While he could look for larger premises he is happy with his current central location. The team work hard on getting customers to leave reviews and its paying off with their excellent online reviews bring customers to their door.
Mt Barker Crash Repairs and Towing
It was off to the hills again to see a stunning shop - Mt Barker Crash Repairs. One of the top 10 cleanest shops I've ever seen, it is bright and well designed. Richard Mooney definitely has a touch of OCD which clearly he's imparted to his team. An ex-assessor back in the day, he and his wife Tricia had outgrown their first business and decided to set up shop in an area with a rapidly growing population. The bright orange livery is echoes throughout the business which has great signage and good workflow.
There's not much Jeff Williams doesn't know about this industry which he has given back to in so many ways, including chairing AMBRA for the last few years. This prestige shop (approved for Jaguar, Land Rover, Audi, Aston Martin, Bentley, Volkswagen, Volvo, Maserati and Alfa Romeo) is cleverly laid out and has expanded recently. A new workshop with a huge aluminium repair cabin is designed for the heavier hits and the demands of mixed body materials of many of the exotic cars repaired here.