Should I Learn PDR Paintless Dent Repair?

You’ve probably searched the web and found several companies that sell PDR Training. Most companies make Paintless Dent Removal sound easy, or say it’s the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. There are a LOT of exaggerated claims made about PDR. Some of the most common are:

There is NO huge need for Paintless Dent Repair techs in the U.S. The PDR market is saturated right now with techs in most areas of the United States. This is true in both the wholesale and hail markets. Many paintless dent removal training schools tell you to look in the yellow pages to see how many techs are in your area. This will tell you nothing. Most techs don’t advertise in the Yellow Pages. Call a few car dealerships, or body shops in your area and ask them if they need the services of a PDR tech. They will probably tell you they already use one. Also do a google search on PDR companies in your area and see how many you come up with.

Many dealerships in saturated areas expect wholesale techs to work for $50 – $65 a car. Hail repair is not the “get rich quick” road it used to be either, with prices for hail work going down every season. In short, the glory days of wholesale and hail Paintless Dent Repair are over in the United States.

The only market that isn’t saturated with PDR techs in most areas of the U.S. is retail. However doing retail PDR takes business / sales skills as well as PDR skills, and the work quality must be higher than most wholesale or hail techs can perform. in addition doing large dents by PDR (LDPDR) is a new and very profitable part of this trade, but the skill level required for this is high, and few techs are doing it because of the skills and training required.

In some countries such as Canada, Australia, Japan, China, and others, a career in Paintless Dent Removal may well be worth looking into in wholesale, hail, and retail markets. PDR is still relatively unknown or just starting out in many areas of the world.

Many PDR techs are now making $250,000 a year or more.

This has not been true for a long time. Depending on the geographical area, a good tech generally makes between $70,000 and up to $200,000 a year for very experienced techs in major cities. Technicians working for large dent removal companies are making far less than this because of the commission structures of most of these companies. In rural areas the wages can be about 30% to 50% lower than in major cities. Retail PDR is far less crowded, but even in this market $140,000 – $200,000 is about the best an experienced tech will do in a major city. PDR techs that are just starting out can expect to struggle the first year, and take from two to three years (depending on their training and natural abilitiy), to get to a good wage level. In short, the days of making a quarter million a year are over in any Paintless Dent Repair related market in the U.S. In some countries where PDR is just catching on, wages can be hard to estimate because this trade is still new there.

NOT true! Hail technicians can still make very good money during an active hail storm season, but these seasons are rare and this is the exception rather than the rule. The hail techs that are still making good money are very experienced and very well connected. A new tech trying to break into the hail repair market will usually be met with a very cold reception from other technicians because they are seen as just more competition. Hail technicians have to deal with a number of issues that are very demanding on themselves and their families. Techs often have to be away from home for weeks or even months at a time. The hail technician may work long hours, sometimes 10-12 hours a day to earn their living.

In addition, the hail market has been over run with very poor quality techs that are driving down prices across the entire hail market. Insurance companies are now getting into the act by forcing techs to use their price guides which are lower than what the industry standard have been. Since PDR techs need a location to work that is close to the hail storm, and insurance companies prefer body shops as the location, the body shop is demanding a larger percentage of the PDR technicians check. In addition, many hail brokers are employing poor quality techs and further cutting prices to get work. In short “chasing hail” is a very tough way to make a living any more.

NOT true. In many areas of the U.S. dealers have their pick of PDR technicians. Even quality technicians can have a tough time in wholesale now because of poorly trained techs that undercut dealers pricing on a regular basis. On the surface you would think that a poorly trained tech would not last very long so it shouldn’t really affect the wholesale market that much. The problem is, most dealers are after the lowest price possible, and quality isn’t nearly as important as a rock bottom price to them. In short, most dealers are NOT looking for quality techs, they are looking for techs that will work as cheap as possible.

The poor quality tech knows he can’t compete with the quality tech on workmanship, so he does the only thing he can do, he cuts his prices. The quality tech knows he must match or come closer to that discounted price in many cases or risk loosing the account. This cycle repeats itself until the area is ruined for the quality tech and he must now do whatever he can to hold on to the few accounts that still care about quality work. This means the quality tech will be doing tougher dents, to keep these accounts.

NOT true. The retail market is far less crowded than wholesale or hail, but it is NOT easy to get into. The money can be great, but only quality techs will do well in this market. Poor quality techs seldom last long in retail. In addition to being a quality tech, business skills and a good knowledge of marketing and sales is necessary to succeed in this market. There are many different types of retail. Mobile and specialty retail can be particularly profitable. See the FAQ page for more information on what it takes to succeed at retail PDR.

PDR training by video is one of the worst ways of all to approach training. Many videos claim to be new or revolutionary. But they leave the student worse off than if they had just started fresh with a quality trainer. Students that “learn” by video will almost certainly develop many bad habits that will be hard to break. Some of the toughest students to teach Paintless Dent Repair to are those that have “learned” from a video before getting real training. To Learn this art you must see very small visual cues that can be different for each student. A video can’t show these to you because everyone sees things differently. Also, a video cannot tell you what you are doing wrong while practicing. By the time a student realizes they need real training, the damage is done. If they get proper training they quickly find out they are worse off than if they came in with no practice time. This is because they must now get rid of all their bad habits first, before they can really start to learn PDR correctly. See the FAQ page for more information.

Not all videos are harmful however. There are some professional videos that are useful for experienced technicians to learn from, and are recommended by many. These professional videos contain warnings about students trying to learn this art by video. YouTube and video instruction is has its place and is a training aid not a core training source.

DEFINITELY NOT True! Many PDR training schools offer package deals with training and tool sets. No matter what you hear, there is no tool company that makes every type of tool well. Most tool companies make sub standard tools that are of little value in the real world of PDR. If you want a true quality set of tools, you should choose from the five or six tool manufacturers that make quality PDR tools. You should ONLY choose your tools from these quality manufacturers during your training, not before. A good trainer will always guide you in the proper selection of your tool set, and will teach you how to recognize the MANY differences between a good quality and poor quality PDR tool.

ALWAYS ask to see and keep a copy of the ORIGINAL manufacturers tool invoices at any Paintless Dent Removal training company that sells tools. Many training companies make the tools themselves, or have their tools made in China or Taiwan with a HUGE mark up to the student.

Free PDR training from the large franchise dent companies? There is NO free lunch. Many people see these adds and think this may be a great way to get the training they need for free. The problem is most franchises control a large part of your life from the moment you sign up. Unfortunately, the Paintless Dent Repair training at many of these franchises is often geared towards wholesale speed and production rather than quality because it has to be in order to generate the volume they need. Most all of these techs are on commission, and must meet their quota above all else. If these techs decide to just slow down and take it easy, they will quickly be demoted to lots that are harder to make a living at. If they decide to quit, the franchise WILL pursue them in court and make them pay back the money they owe for the training, and many other expenses including all legal expenses. This happens even if the tech moves out of state.

In addition, the percentages actually paid to the tech are small, and in most cases can change at the whim of the company no mater how the contract is written. If you decide to go this route for your PDR training, make sure you have a lawyer look over the ENTIRE contract they want you to sign. ESPECIALLY the small print. You may be surprised at how much control over your life and finances you will have to sign away. There are many techs that are now stuck in a franchise making much less money than they could on their own. Unfortunately they can’t get out because of the legal problems involved. The best advice to give anyone about “training for free” with these companies is to talk to working techs other than the techs the company gives you to talk to that have worked for them for a while. These techs usually get a bonus for signing unsuspecting techs up with the company. Also, have a lawyer look over all contracts!

This is not true. To learn PDR well enough to make a good living at it, you need a number of things besides quality training. Good or correctable vision is a must. 20/20 with any astigmatism correctable with glasses or contacts is a standard requirement. You also need above average hand eye coordination. A good test for this is to be able to thread the eye of a standard sewing needle with no problem. If you don’t enjoy working with your hands, PDR is not a good career choice. If you are an impatient person or generally feel that “close enough is good enough,” then you will most likely not have the patience required to master this art. Patient people that pay attention to detail always do the best at PDR. Also, If you have any joint or back problems, PDR may not be for you.

An honest trainer can evaluate you over the phone and can usually tell if Paintless Dent Repair is a good fit for you.