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Body Shop Owner Forgives Rent for 200 Tenants
At Anderson Behel in Santa Clara, CA, we are not all about the $$ and our customers know that. In this article, written by our very own blogger Ed Attanasio, a body shop owner in NYC did an amazing thing for his customers:
A lot of body shop owners end up being landlords and sometimes it can be a pain in the you know what. When you’re trying to fix cars, keeping your customers, insurance partners and employees happy, you don’t want to have to worry about late rent or Mrs. Smith’s leaking faucet in apartment #5.
When this pandemic blindsided many of us, people all over the world started asking themselves about their rent or mortgages. To placate his tenants and take the high road, Mario Salerno, the owner of Salerno Auto Body in the heart of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, NY waived rent for all of his 200 tenants living in his 18 properties.
When Salerno decided to waive the rents for April, he had the following message posted in all of his buildings: “Due to the recent pandemic of coronavirus Covid-19 affecting all of us, please note that I am waiving rent for the month of April, 2020.”
The Salerno family has three separate businesses, including a service station, a mechanical repair shop, and a body shop. Owned for three generations, Salerno Auto Body opened in 1959 fixing Buicks, Cadillacs and Lincoln-Continentals for guys named Nunzio and Carlo.
Salerno’s businesses have played an integral role in the neighborhood since day one and when Mario retires, his son Sal, age 33, will assume the helm. Today, Sal runs the body shop and Mario’s youngest son, Mario, Jr. also works in the business on the mechanical side.
A collection of colorful locals often convene at the shop until Mario tells everyone it’s time to get back to work. The neighborhood is calling him “Super Mario” and praising him for a gracious act that changed the lives of more than 200 people.
All he asked of his tenants is to hopefully pay it forward if they possibly can. “If my tenants can help others because of this, that’s what we are looking for,” he said. “A lot of people have told me about charitable things they’ve done after getting help from us and that always makes me smile.”
Salerno is currently tapping into more than his allotted 15 minutes of fame, but he’s not about that. When he sees someone in need, he doesn’t hesitate to help them in any way he can.
Salerno’s selfless act led to a big story in The New York Times and an appearance on The Ellen Show. He’s pleasantly surprised by all the hoopla and a little reluctant to receive the praise and acclaim, according to his eldest son, Sal.
“My dad does stuff like this all the time and people don’t know about it,” he said. “He went to Texas one time to save 63 puppies from being destroyed. We have a friend who owns a pet shelter and when he told my father about it, he hopped in one of our sprinter vans and drove 50 hours roundtrip. Some of our tenants now own those dogs, so we get to see them all the time. They call them ‘Mario’s dogs.’ In addition, we close during the holidays and invite all of the local schools here to celebrate Christmas. We get a Santa and go way over the top with decorations and small gifts for the kids.”
The body shop portion of the family business repairs 35-40 vehicles every month in a hyper competitive market where “accident chasers” are a reality. “Here in this area, shops will use their police scanners and then rush over to where the accidents are and try to get the car towed to their shop. We have been around long enough and have a great reputation for being honest. So, we don’t have to chase accidents or rely on DRPs for business, because people know who we are and that we’re not just into this for a quick buck.”
Although Salerno does not want to disclose how much money he would lose due to not collecting rent in April, the NY Times estimated he was likely foregoing more than six figures in rental income.
“It’s not about the money,” he said. “These are unique times and we need to work together to make it through this. I learned long ago that money isn’t everything. I thank God every day for being in a position where I can do this.”
"This is the first Yelp review I've left in years, but I was so impressed by Anderson Behel's incredible customer service and excellent work that I felt I needed to write something.
When I arrived at Anderson Behel I was, I must admit, in something of an emotional state over my car. An amazing employee Jeff took me out to take a look at my car, and listened carefully and genuinely to make sure they would get me exactly what I was looking for in terms of the repair. He was patient, understanding, and clearly cared not only about what happened to my car, but about my safety and my financial stress when it came to paying for this repair. After leaving the car with them that day, they had quoted me 6-8 days for the repair to be complete. They called me THE NEXT DAY to say that my car was ready.
I have never been so impressed by an automotive shop. I typically feel anxious when getting work done on my car, as I know I've been taken advantage of in the past, but this was absolutely not the case here.
Thank you so much to Jeff, Mariah, Mark, and everyone who helped me at Anderson Behel. I whole-heartedly recommend Anderson Behel to anyone in need of a high-quality fix at a shop with wonderful service."
We were mentioned in a recent article in Autobody News
Some shops are doing everything they can to return to normalcy, but with so many questions and so few answers, the situation seems to change every day. Body shops are considered essential businesses throughout the West, and most of them have stayed open, but they are operating with smaller crews and limiting hours, in most cases.
If you are a body shop owner, you obviously have a ton of concerns right now about layoffs, furlongs, your DRPs, your customers and #1—how long is this going to last? No one knows, but by playing it smart and using safe processes and procedures, western shops are hanging in there and holding their own.
David Mello owns Anderson Behel in Santa Clara, CA and has been in the industry for more than 40 years. He has a shop full of cars, but few customers, he said. “We closed the shop the day the shelter in place order for Santa Clara County was issued, even though I learned a few hours later that auto shops were deemed essential,” he said. “I decided to stay closed until the next morning of the day the original order ended. We have a shop and a parking lot full of work in process, so we reopened to get all the work out and vehicles back to customers. It will take us two to three weeks to clear up the existing work.”
Mello has two of his managers working each morning to handle any business, phone calls, parts deliveries, etc. This way their techs will be ready when they come in to do repairs. “We are not getting many requests for estimates, or tow ins,” he said. “With people sheltered in place there is little traffic, and little desire to get vehicles repaired. We will see what work comes in while we are open these next few weeks, and then decide to stay open with a skeleton crew, or simply close. I’ve heard that business is down 50% elsewhere. I fear it could be worse here.”
As the orders to stay in place hold, Mello will be setting up new procedural systems to keep his customers and employees safe, he said. “We haven’t made a decision yet about picking up or dropping off cars, but by being closed, we haven’t had to make those kinds of decisions. We adopted ‘touchless’ interactions with customers and vendors the morning of the shutdown on March 16th, and of course, we will keep that in place.”
Mello has almost one-third his crew on unemployment and has told them to stay on it until further notice. Those who do come in are adhering to a stringent set of safety rules. “I’ve instructed all employees to wear surgical masks the entire time at work, to save their N95 masks for any hazardous type work to conserve them. They must take their temperature each morning before work, and if it’s over 100, they have to stay home. We are also doing all of the physical distancing, and of course they can’t come in if they have a household member who’s sick. It’s obviously hard to make plans when things change constantly, but that is our current status.”
Tiffany Silva, owner of Accurate Auto Body in Richmond, CA is the president of the CAA’s East Bay Chapter was experiencing record sales when COVID-19 changed everything almost overnight. “March was our highest sales month ever and at the same time I was furloughing four people, two body techs, one helper and one estimator,” she said. “Times are challenging and this all seems so unreal. We are honestly staying busy. We typically have a two-week backlog but now we can take vehicles in immediately.”
Silva is staying safe and positive, she said. “I feel blessed that we have not had to reduce work hours or furlough anyone else yet. We are sanitizing vehicles upon arrival and delivery. This is a process that we may continue once the virus has passed. I recently read an article that stated steering wheels have more bacteria than a public restroom toilet—so disgusting!
Mike Brockway owns Dabler Autobody, a 50-year-old shop in Salem, OR. One of his main concerns is retaining his 19 employees while staying afloat. “We are slow at the moment, which gives us enough time to apply for payroll relief and SBA loans that are available for small businesses. It involves gathering documents and it’s time-sensitive, but if we can get that funding, we can keep our doors open.”
Brockway has been in this industry since he was old enough to detail a vehicle, but he’s still a little shocked by this recent turn of events. “When you own a business, you assume a lot of responsibility and you have a ton of people depending on you,” he said. “We want to be able to pay our people and get enough revenue to survive for as long as it takes.”
Shawn Beckstrom owns Beckstrom Body Shop, another 50-year-old shop with two locations in Ogden, UT. He is working closely with his DRPs to make sure they’re hitting their deadlines without severely damaging their cycle time during the pandemic. “We usually repair 80 cars every month out of the two shops combined,” he said. “Right now, we have retained all of our 42 employees full-time and don’t have any plans to slow down. We are a family business with ten family members working here, so we are all working hard to keep our jobs and support our families.”
Beckstrom’s estimators have been using a mobile app for years, but now it’s playing a larger role than ever, he said. “We use Face Time to talk to the customer while they take photos and it has been working well. We get eyes on the vehicle quickly and it’s all done virtually, which makes the vehicle owner comfortable. We can do the entire estimate without zero contact.”
While some shops are having issues recouping the additional costs created by the pandemic, Beckstrom has negotiated deals with his DRPS that are fair and equitable, he said. “The insurance companies have been very understanding and paying for the time it takes us to sanitize the cars and cover everything. It comes out to 45 minutes to one hour per car, so it’s not crazy. But, it’s nice that our DRPs are willing to negotiate and be flexible, which makes things a little easier during these confusing times.”
There is no doubt about it at all—strange smells coming from your vehicle can be a little unsettling. It happens all the time day, you might get inside your vehicle only to be hit by a super stinky mysterious smell. Many common objects and liquids can cause strong odors and smoke something as simple as coffee, soda or milk spilled on one of your seats.
The problem is that these odors might be caused by a mechanical problem. To treat the issue, it is important to discover the source of the problem and work hard to remove it.
The first thing that all of us at Anderson Behel in Santa Clara, CA would like to tell you is once you start smelling weird odors, ventilate the car’s interior to protect your health. Some smells and smoke will be less worrisome than others, but all can be easily treated once you know why they’re happening.
Maple Syrup: After your motor has warmed up or possibly even after it has been shut down for a few minutes, if you smell maple syrup and it is not your doggie bag from Pizza Hut, coolant is leaking. A strong smell inside the passenger compartment likely means that you have a bad heater core.
Gym Socks: If you turn on your heater or A/C and the car reminds you of your high school gym locker, it is probably mildew growing in you’re A/C evaporator. Try turning off the A/C and turning the fan on high to dry out the evaporator.
Litter Box: If your vehicle begins to smell like your dog’s favorite place to do its business, gear lube is leaking within the system. That is actually sulfur you are smelling. Look for drippy, oily stuff under the automobile, and once you find it, get to your mechanic, and please--don’t put it off.
Rotten Eggs: Similar to the previously stated issue, sulfur causes the smell (no matter what, it is never good). This may be caused by a fuel-injection problem, and can be fixed by a skilled mechanic, but more than likely, it is a failed catalytic converter.
Hot Oil: This means that oil is leaking onto the hot exhaust manifold. Leaky valves do not often leave a drip on the floor, so look for smoke and try to stem the leak.
Burnt Carpets: This means that your brake pads are seriously overheated. If you smell this odor under normal driving conditions, you have got a dragging brake. Always check the temperature of the brakes by hand — the hot one is probably the smelliest.
These are uncertain times, but by having the right information, you can be prepared for the COVID-19. This is from Santa Clara County and is the latest and the greatest. At Anderson Behel, we are considered an essential business, so we are open with a small crew and practicing the safest procedures in the collision repair industry.
What are coronaviruses? Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. Many coronaviruses naturally infect animals, but some can also infect humans. Coronaviruses are thought to spread through the air by coughing/sneezing and close personal contact, or by touching contaminated objects or surfaces and then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes. What do we know about the novel coronavirus? There has been an outbreak of a novel coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2, which first appeared in December 2019. The virus has spread to most countries in the world, including the United States. Since this coronavirus is new, health authorities are still learning more about the virus and how it spreads. The situation is quickly changing and the U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) provides updated information as it becomes available: www.cdc.gov/ncov What is the difference between COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2? COVID-19 is the disease caused by novel coronavirus. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) refers to the virus, while Coronavirus Disease-19 (COVID-19) refers to the disease caused by the virus.
How is the novel coronavirus treated? There is no vaccine for the novel coronavirus and no specific treatment or cure for COVID-19. However, many of the symptoms can be treated. COVID-19 patients should get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids, eat healthy foods, and manage stress. Acetaminophen should be used to reduce fever and aches and pains. For severe cases, medical care may be needed to relieve symptoms and support vital organ functions until the patient recovers.
Do I need to be concerned about the transmission of novel coronavirus?
We know that everyone is concerned about the novel coronavirus. What is now known is that the disease is in Santa Clara County and is circulating at some level, but importantly, it is unknown as to what degree. The priority is to conduct public health surveillance to determine the extent of local spread. The County public health laboratory now has the ability to run the test and now will be able to quickly evaluate what's happening in our community. The County has engaged public health colleagues from across County Departments as well as from the California Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for assistance. The County will continue to work with these and other partners to respond to cases, to trace contacts, and to understand what is going on in our community. The Emergency Operations Center has been activated for many weeks and will continue to be active in response to this crisis.
What about transmission by people who have no symptoms? Several studies have documented spread from a person who does not yet have symptoms (pre-symptomatic transmission), for up to 48-hours before the onset of symptoms. Therefore, a person may be at risk for COVID-19 if they were in close contact (within 6 feet for a prolonged period of time) with a person confirmed to have COVID-19, for up to 48-hours before the onset of symptoms. People are still thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest). These findings underscore the importance of following social distancing because people without symptoms could be contagious.
What are the symptoms of the novel coronavirus? Symptoms include fever, tiredness, cough, and muscle or body aches. The illness can progress to shortness of breath and complications from pneumonia. Symptoms may also include nausea with vomiting, diarrhea, chills, night sweats, sore throat, headaches, confusion, or loss of sense of taste or smell. Some infected patients experience only mild symptoms while others—particularly older individuals and those with underlying health conditions—might develop more severe symptoms. Symptoms may develop 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19, get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include*: Trouble breathing Persistent pain or pressure in the chest New confusion or inability to arouse Bluish lips or face *This list is not all-inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.
Who to Contact
. A voicemail can be left by calling (408) 792-2300 in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese.
As millions of children are displaced from their schools due to the coronavirus, a sub-crisis has risen for American parents: What will the kids do all day? At Anderson Behel in Santa Clara, CA we can see that widespread school closures have sent a ripple effect into parent communities as many scramble to find ways to smoothly transition kids into at-home life. It’s one thing to entertain them all day on the weekends. It’s another when you have seven days a week to fill for an indefinite period of time.
So, here are some suggestions about fun and productive things to do during the stay in place directive.
The secret is one that schools know well: Make a routine. Kids are used to following a schedule, so making a blueprint for the day will help everything fall into place. It’s a lot easier than you might think. Grab a pen, paper and actually map out how the days will look at home. The goal is to keep kids busy and learning while allowing you to get other things done too.
Here’s how to set a routine for your child:
Start with their school routine
Use school as the framework and honor what had been your child’s routine:
When are they used to having breakfast? Snack? Lunch?
When is recess?
Break the day into small chunks much like school does with subjects.
If your child has assigned schoolwork, do they work best in the morning or afternoon?
Dedicate time for play: Once you’ve mapped out times for things like food and school assignments, you’re ready to fill in the rest of the day, and actually carving out time for dedicated child-led play is huge for kids. When a child is imagining, creating, building or inventing, they are doing some serious learning.
In your new daily schedule, have a few 15- to 30-minute blocks (more or less time depending on your child’s age and play development) of dedicated child-led play. The more a child plays, the more they learn to play.
A few tips for effective playtime: Weed out the unused and broken toys: If it’s hard to find the good toys, it’s hard to find the good play.
Move the “open-ended toys” to the front: Toys with lights and batteries that sing and talk won’t hook your child into play as well as simple toys (think toys from your childhood – blocks, cars, dolls, kitchens…).
Limit adult involvement: Play is the child’s job, not the adults. Accept some play invitations, but don’t feel guilty about skipping others. Kids need to play independent of adults (independent doesn’t mean unsupervised).
Schedule in some easy indoor activities: While you can just put out toys for unstructured free play, kids also get excited when parents facilitate some of the fun. Think of activities as “invitations to play.” Easy indoor activities can be a lifeline, a great way to practice school skills and a way to quietly entertain kids. These activities do not need to be complicated or take hours to set up. As you plan your schedule, think of places where an activity might be helpful to transition from one-time block to the next, like after snack time or before dinner.
Here are four easy indoor activities perfect for breaking up a day:
Box Road – Flatten out a box and draw a road in marker. Add blocks, trucks and other toys for kids to build a city.
Toy-Washing Bin – Let your kids wash their plastic toys. Add tear-free bubbles, sponges, towels and other supplies.
Trash Art – Find some recycled materials and let your kids paint them. Kids love painting random objects and making beautiful creations from them.
Sticky Match-Up – Draw shapes, letters, numbers, words or math problems on sticky notes and hide them around the house for your child to find. Then have the child match them up on a “key” that hangs on the wall.
Good luck—stay healthy and we will see you soon.
About Anderson Behel
With today’s sophisticated cars, it’s more important than ever that your body shop is certified to repair your type of vehicle. At Anderson Behel, Silicon Valley’s leading collision repair company, we’re proud to hold several certifications, which means we’re a Honda Certified Body Shop, Acura Authorized Body Shop, Nissan Authorized Body Shop, Subaru Auto Body Shop a Porsche Collision Center and most recently a Volvo certified shop. What does this mean? At Anderson Behel, we’ve invested in the finest training, equipment and tools to do an O.E. repair on each and every Honda, Porsche, Acura, Volvo, Nissan and Subaru that comes into our shop. Why not work with a body shop that is qualified, experienced and certified by the carmaker itself to work on your car? It just makes good sense and that’s why we proudly tell the world that we’re certified on some of the world's finest vehicles.