Collision repair shop manager leverages continuous learning to keep vehicles safe

March 1, 2019
Reflecting the attitudes of the entire Faulkner Organization’s team of 28 dealerships and 12 body shops, April Lausch is totally committed to building lasting relationships with both their customers and the entire Central Pennsylvania community.

Reflecting the attitudes of the entire Faulkner Organization’s team of 28 dealerships and 12 body shops, April Lausch is totally committed to building lasting relationships with both their customers and the entire Central Pennsylvania community.

As shop manager of the Faulkner Collision Center of Lancaster she oversees not just a high-production and high-satisfaction repair facility specializing in BMWs, but also an ambitious program of ongoing public service offerings to residents throughout the region.

At a Glance:
Faulkner Collision Center of Lancaster
Lancaster, Pa.
Main location
JJLH of Manheim Pike Inc.
No. of shops in chain
Years in business
No. of employees
No. of DRPs
Square footage of shop
5 days
Average cycle time
No. of vehicles per week
Paint supplier
Frame machines used
Estimating systems used

Along with regularly contributing money, time and energy to numerous local charitable endeavors, Lausch recently hosted a detailed First Responder Emergency Extrication instructional seminar – known as the FREE program – for more than 40 area firefighters on behalf of the National Auto Body Council (NABC).

“It was a big hit,” Lausch reports. “Before they left they were asking me when the next session is going to be held – they want to bring their whole departments.”

State Farm Insurance donated a selection of wrecked vehicles equipped with the latest technologies that rescuers confront at crash scenes while representatives from distributor MES (Municipal Equipment Services of Lancaster) and Hurst Products Specialists conducted the classroom teaching and a realistic hands-on extrication demonstration.

The rescue-saw wielded by the firefighters was particularly impressive, according to Lausch. “It cut through that high-strength steel like butter,” she recounts, noting that the event involved a considerable amount of paperwork, organizational and logistical preparations such as wrangling the vehicle titles, arranging towing, issuing invitations and generating media coverage, yet it was well worth the effort.

Contributions such as Lausch’s are greatly appreciated by all involved, says FREE coordinator George Avery at the NABC. “The first responders like it because they’re cutting late-model cars for training. They want the experience.”

In addition to conducting a regular series of FREE webinars, last year some 30 live-action sessions were presented for firefighters at collision repair centers, and Avery encourages everyone in the industry to support the program wherever your hometown happens to be. “I supply templates for the shops so they don’t have to start from scratch,” he notes. “It serves as a good example.”

Lausch agrees, and recommends that you participate. “It was popular; I’m going to become a regular. We are committed to do all we can do to help provide our first responders with training resources that will benefit our community and help save lives,” she says, adding that “we had a fully catered meal, and I donated the leftovers to a veteran’s shelter.”

She points out that the family owned firm, established by Henry Faulkner in 1932, “is integral to the fabric of the communities where it operates and where its employees live.” All of the staff “takes great pride in supporting programs benefitting its neighbors, the sick and impoverished, youth and families, the arts and public safety.”

Investing in yourself

April Lausch

Lausch has amassed a wide-ranging collection of awards for her charitable work, plus she and the I-CAR Gold shop have received numerous accolades for their professional expertise and achievements, including the Nationwide Insurance Showmanship of Excellence Award, “40 under 40” honors, an Executive of the Year salute, the Enterprise Outstanding Excellence Award and the BMW Outstanding Performance Award among other recognitions of personal and industry esteem.

She is an active board member for WIN, the Women’s Industry Network, and also belongs to the NABC, the National Association of Professional Women and the American Business Women’s Association of Lancaster.

Green Belt Lean Six Sigma training is another accomplishment, and the shop has hosted a BMW seminar for insurance personnel focusing on the automaker’s use of advanced technologies such as aluminum and other high-tech metals, carbon fiber materials and innovative electronics.

“As collision industry professional, we at Faulkner Collision take training as serious as the first responders, and make training top priority with the intricacy of today’s new car technology,” Lausch explains.

“Building a reputation as the best collision repair shop in Pennsylvania isn’t an easy task,” she adds. “It takes years of excellent work to gain the trust of customers and earn a reputation that’s unmatched by any other repair shop. That’s why we place extra importance on retaining the best workers available, adhering to prices and time constraints, and completing a job so good that only you will know that the car was ever in an accident.”

The shop floor features a specially designed “performance loop,” meaning that the facility’s unique layout maximizes speed and efficiency. “We don’t cut any corners, but we also don’t waste your time with the typical backlogs and bottlenecks that can occur at poorly designed body shops.”

Processes are continually refined to increase quality and reduce cycle time. “We also have state of the art equipment, and if we don’t have it we get it. This industry has a high demand to have the correct equipment to fix the vehicle correctly and safely,” says Lausch.

“Each repair is treated uniquely, just as each customer is unique; each vehicle is given the time, effort and professional expertise necessary to result in the best outcome possible,” she elaborates.

“We have fully trained employees to work on the vehicles, from the CSR, to the estimator, to the detailer. Everyone is properly trained in their department to deliver the best results possible.”

Regarding training and subsequent on-the-job attention to detail and overall motivation, Lausch reports that “if you invest in yourself I will invest in you. I promote from within 100 percent of the time, as I want to see my employees move up within the company and do what is their passion – having a place of employment knowing if you give it 100 percent you have the opportunity to move up. My employees are my family and they are treated as such.”

A key goal is “to recruit, select, retain and promote individuals that will both add to the team chemistry and excel in performance while adhering to our high standards of ethics and integrity,” she says.

“Faulkner is committed to promoting excellence within the automotive industry,” Lausch emphasizes. The organization sponsors eight students who are studying auto mechanics, with each young scholar visiting a dealership for three hours twice a week to gain real-world experience. “During this time they shadow technicians, service advisors and parts departments to learn more about working in automotive dealerships.”

Lausch herself started out as an office manager in a collision center 20 years ago. The employer sponsored her to attend the Vale National 2-week Physical Damage Appraisal Course and obtain a Pennsylvania state appraiser’s license.

“I began to write estimates and learn more about the collision industry while still doing the accounting,” she recounts. After 5 years Lausch landed at a Chevrolet dealership to become a fulltime damage appraiser under the guidance and mentoring of supervisor Paul Angstadt.

Continuing to master the intricacies of direct repair programs, warrantees and service procedures, Lausch joined the Faulkner family as an estimator – and within a year she was promoted to collision center manager.

Brian Maschmeyer, territory manager at paint supplier PPG, describes Lausch using just one word: “Determined.” He goes on to point out that “she sees things through, she’s built a great team and she cares about the quality of the work her shop turns out. Her performance as a manager has been impressive.”

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