My journey toward Repairing the Repair® Process — —

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Contributed by Tom Bemiller (EO Philadelphia), founder and CEO of The Aureus Group, which acts as a management company for three body shops with the aim of repairing the repair process®. We asked Tom about his entrepreneurial journey. Here’s what she shared:

My entrepreneurial journey began when I was eight: I started working in the garden for the neighbors because I desperately wanted a Nintendo. I grew up in a decent landscaping business when I was a teenager.

In college, I graduated with a degree in medicine, but decided not to go to medical school after graduating. I went home. While I was figuring out what to do with my life, I started helping a friend who owns a body shop with special projects.

Identify the opportunity

For six years, my role expanded as a store manager and chief operating officer. Accidental exposure to the car body industry opened my eyes to how horrible the industry is. I saw an important opportunity to improve it. When my plan to take over my friend’s business failed in 2012, I started Aureus Auto Body (now The Aureus Group).

I started my own business to create a better environment and process for fixing cars because I realized that almost everyone was frustrated, tired, and hit. As an industry, car repair lacks leadership, creating horrible work environments. A bad employee experience translates directly into poor customer experiences, so it’s no wonder everyone hates fixing their car.

Our goal is to change all this dynamic. We call it the Repairing the Repair® Process.

I knew that if I could improve the repair experience of the people doing the repairs, it would result in a better repair experience for vehicle owners. Now, 15 years later, I’m still there, because there are still many opportunities for improvement.

Improving the environment for the benefit of all stakeholders

I’m not a “car”. I’ve never fixed them, I don’t participate in them, I don’t even have a car!

The Aureus Group is not about fixing cars; it’s about fixing the path we fix cars. Our purpose is to repair the repair process:

  • We’ve created a better environment – our stores are organized and clean, there’s no animosity or farce, and we thank each other as we work together to find better ways to do things.
  • We want to create the fastest process to restore vehicles to pre-loss conditions. Other stores may reduce the quality of repairs to go faster, but we are not willing to compromise security.
  • We aim to create a transparent, fast and easy process for consumers to repair vehicles after an accident.
  • We believe we can improve the repair experience for all parties: teammates, customers, and stakeholders.

Hire people with similar ideas

One of the most amazing things I’ve come across while repairing the repair process is that not everyone wants to make things better. Personally, when I see something that is inefficient or not working well, I immediately start thinking of ways to improve it. Not everyone does.

I wasted a lot of time and energy hiring people and hoping they would want to be involved in process improvement efforts. I learned that some people are very happy with the status quo, some are afraid of change and others just don’t care. Now I’m much better at finding people who believe things can get better, those who believe work shouldn’t be shit and want to get involved to make it better. Everything improves when we work for common goals.

Joining EO in 2018 saved lives, or should I say “business savings!” Now I realize how little I knew when I started a decade ago; He was good at running body shops, but he didn’t know how to start a business. When I joined EO, they welcomed me to an absolutely amazing forum. The learning opportunities, including MIT’s Master of Entrepreneurship program, are not at all extraordinary. Plus, I now have a global network of business leaders that I often turn to for help. EO has also given me a sense of community, a sense of belonging, something I have missed for most of my life.

Never stop improving

The pandemic years were tough for the car repair industry, but we are very excited about what awaits us. We are anticipating 100% more growth this year as customers and insurance companies are seeing the value of working with us.

But we are just getting started. I think we can reduce repair times by up to 75 percent of what they are now. Let’s go “all-in” with Lean principles, which align perfectly with our culture. I think we can help people achieve their professional and life goals. This year we are launching a talent development program with the goal of creating opportunities for our people to improve and move forward. And, I believe in sharing wealth; we are exploring ways to create ownership opportunities for our teammates.

Our goal is to be the best company to work for in the industry. This means that we will be the best company to develop people both professionally and personally and the best to fix cars, so that our employees can feel satisfied with their hard work and come home happy at the end of each day. I know that if we can improve the employee experience, we will also, by default, improve the customer experience, and that is what concerns us.

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