Democrat staff writer
Talking with Jim and Rich Morgan, owners of FrankÕs Body Shop in Placerville, it becomes very clear why their shop has its outstanding reputation. Chances are, if you have ever needed body work done on your vehicle in El Dorado County, you have heard of FrankÕs. Additionally, if you have ever attended a charity fund-raiser, softball tournament, auction or any other benevolent event in this county, you will have seen ÒFrankÕs Body ShopÓ listed as one of the sponsors or contributors.
FrankÕs, located at 2878 Cold Springs Road in Placerville, has been family owned and operated by the Morgan family since 1983. Originally founded by auto body man Frank Boyle, Boyle sold his shop to fellow auto man John Morgan and auto painter Ron Bailey in 1983. Bailey sold his half of the establishment to JohnÕs sons, Jim and Rich, in 2003, and the two Morgan brothers took over the shop in its entirety in 2005.
Since 1983 FrankÕs has accrued a number of automotive excellence awards, including the coveted Mitchell International AutoCheX award for customer satisfaction Ñ a national award given out to a select few businesses that have retained no less than a 100 percent satisfaction rating throughout the course of one entire 12-month period. FrankÕs has earned this award twice, and is the only auto body shop in El Dorado County to do so.
To elucidate the difficulty that comes with earning the AutoCheX award for customer satisfaction, it is safe to say that a business must operate for one entire year without a single complaint from any customer. With the turn-over rate that auto body shops must maintain, this means that in the eyes of hundreds if not thousands of customers, FrankÕs was impeccable.
Ironically enough, despite the prestige of such an award from the industry, Jim and Rich care about only one thing Ñ the customer.
ÒThis is a family run business,Ó Rich said. ÒItÕs about quality and commitment. We care about all the jobs that we do. In our eyes, they absolutely have to go out perfect, every time. Each person has to leave here happy Ñ that is our goal.
ÒItÕs not about just another car, or another job Ñ weÕre here to help someone get back on the road and be completely happy with their experience here. We want our customers to not feel like customers when they leave here. We want them to feel like friends. This is a great town, one that weÕre proud to be from Ñ the customers here really are our friends in our eyes, and weÕd like them to feel that way about us.Ó
The FrankÕs approach to business is simple. Do good, honest work, and do it perfectly every time. ItÕs been this belief that has propelled FrankÕs to the top of the list in a community that is primarily based on word of mouth.
The Morgan brothers are true locals. Born at Marshall Hospital, both Jim and Rich attended El Dorado High School, graduating in 1983 and Õ84, respectively. Both played for Hangtown Little League (and to this day sponsor the league each year), played varsity sports for the Cougars Ñ Jim was awarded All-League in football for his talent as a linebacker and received the Most Valuable Player award three out of his four years as a Cougar. Their mother, Charlotte, worked as a dispatcher for the Placerville Police Department, and the family has always been committed to the community.
FrankÕs shop has been integral in a number of different charitable organizations in El Dorado County, and a regular supporter of a number of benevolent causes including the Junior Livestock Auction at the county fair, which provides funding for youth involved with 4-H, Future Farmers of America, and local granges. Additionally, FrankÕs supports the 20-30 Club of Placerville, the Placerville Kiwanis Club, the Lions Clubs, Swing for Children softball tournament, and an endless list of other local charities.
ÒYou know, if someone comes in asking us to sponsor their rock crawling hobby or something, weÕre not interested,Ó chuckled Rich. ÒBut weÕre always open to supporting this community. The way we see it, this is our town, our community and our people. We want to be there to help them out any way we can. Our mom and dad were always getting involved in charities and fund-raisers when we were growing up and we feel that itÕs really important for us to keep that tradition alive.Ó
As owners, Jim and Rich do not fall into the typical stereotype of the one-day-a-week visiting owner. Both men are journeymen auto body workers who are at the shop each and every morning until closing. They work with their employees and do a generous percentage of the work themselves, as well as inspect every piece of work that leaves their bay doors.
ÒThe customer has got to be happy,Ó Jim said. ÒAnd if weÕre not here ourselves to guarantee that they are happy, thatÕs not right. We want to be right here, ready to help them out in anything they need, and we work with them the whole way. We keep them informed with what weÕre doing, give them an honest analysis of what they will need done, and we lifetime-warranty every single part of our work. If for any reason they feel that something did not turn out right, we work with them to fix it. ThatÕs what matters the most to us. The awards are great, it is great to receive recognition from peers in the industry, but that means nothing compared to ensuring our customers are totally and completely happy with their experience with us.
ÒIt gets to us if a customer of ours isnÕt happy, and we focus on fixing that. They are priority No. 1.Ó
ÒWeÕre not in this business to get rich,Ó Rich said. ÒWe donÕt want to grow this company any further. WeÕre at the right size now that we can see every aspect of the work that is done ourselves, and weÕre just here to make a living and help out this community.Ó
In addition to being local, family owned, integral in the community and recognized nationally for excellence in the auto body trade, FrankÕs is environmentally conscious as well, in 2009 switching over to EnviroBase High Performance Waterborne Paint, a brand of automotive paint that uses water instead of oil. Both Jim and Rich are constantly upgrading equipment and products, and have formed strong relationships with distributors and suppliers to ensure that every product used is top-notch grade. The waterborne paint formula is not a mandatory industry requirement yet, and is more expensive Ñ but FrankÕs obviously is dedicated to the larger picture.
ÒWe were the first shop to switch over to this water-based paint,Ó Rich said. ÒThe requirements for products in this industry change rapidly, and we would rather be prepared for when it does become required. ItÕs better for our customers for us to have five to six years experience ahead of time working with these new products, so that when it becomes mandatory, weÕve already been using it and weÕre experts with it.Ó
For Jim and Rich Morgan and the staff at FrankÕs Body Shop, the business has reached its goal of being the best family owned and operated body shop in the county, and the customers have backed that up time and again in ReadersÕ Choice polls and satisfaction ratings. From here, the most important thing for Jim and Rich is maintaining that tradition, and continuing to serve El Dorado County residents and customers in the best possible way.
ÒThis is our life,Ó Rich said. ÒWeÕre not going anywhere, and we want to keep this business thriving and in our family forever.Ó