Vendor Affinity Program Spotlight: Torque Financial Group

by Alana Quartuccio

Running a successful automotive business is one thing, but becoming a better business owner can require an entirely different process and set of skills altogether. 

The average shop owner may not easily possess the financial mindset to effectively manage their finances to the best of their ability. That goes for the sake of their business, their personal money matters and even those of their employees. This realization is what led former technician, appraiser and business development consultant, Rachel James, to launch Torque Financial Group. Through this venture, she helps the collision repair community better manage their finances. 

There are many advantages to working with James. Not only is she a certified financial advisor, but she truly knows how to get her hands dirty, having lived and experienced exactly what her clients contend with on a daily basis. 

Her automotive career started in vocational school and gradually evolved as she studied at technical college, which led her to work as a technician for a Nissan dealership and later a Chevy-Hyundai dealership. She moved into management at that point, obtained her appraiser license and transitioned into the auto body world. James then carried her experience over to PPG Automotive where she grew into a business consulting role. 

“Somewhere around 2008 into 2010 – as I began to move away from the shop floor and take on more of a consultant role – I started hearing a lot of discussion about handling finances. People would share that they were unsure of how to benchmark their business,” she shared. 

PPG offered her the opportunity to take college courses, so she took night classes in business finance to earn her bachelor’s degree.

James had recognized that “shops don’t necessarily need as much help with the paint as they do with understanding how to run their business. The role I had at PPG really turned into a consultant role. I was in business development, and I did a lot of work helping shops understand how to be a better business owner and how to understand their financials. Questions would arise as they would make some profit, but they wouldn’t know what to do with it or how to mitigate their taxes. That’s when it dawned on me that there is a niche market that had never been tapped. I looked up financial advisors that specialized in collision and could not find any.”

She spent about six years working on getting her licenses and designations in place. “I think I will forever be learning. I don’t think that part ever ends,” she says of the constant time and training she puts into her work. “I opened the practice in 2019 and have never looked back!”

Her focus with Torque Financial is to “help body shop owners and their employees get a better grasp on business finances and be smarter with their money.” 

Her door is open to listen to anyone who may have questions. She offers complimentary assessments. Those who are curious can go through an initial intake to gain an understanding of their business goals. They will also identify the top five to 10 things that can be done to give them an idea of how things would work. 

“I get a sense that people are intimidated by finance,” James observed. “I will always take a phone call. If you have a question, we’d rather you call so we can help you, rather than you wait a year and make a mess of your finances.” 

James’ love for working with cars has never faltered. She’s currently working with her son to restore a car. “That part of me will never go away. I’m still involved with cars. I still go to conferences to learn about the industry. I really like this industry a lot. What is unique about our firm is that I have sat in the roles they sit in, and I understand the struggles they go through. I try to translate finance into terms they can understand. The finance industry can be complicated, and that makes people want to avoid it. It doesn’t have to be overcomplicated. Just like we have standard operating procedures (SOP) for fixing cars, we build an SOP for these businesses to follow toward financial success.”

James strongly believes in supporting the industry, which she does being an active Bronze sponsor of AASP/MA through their Vendor Affinity Program. She also took part in the third installment of the Alliance’s “Breaking Free in ‘23” series last fall which left collision repairers in the audience with much to think about when it comes to keeping their finances in check.

“It’s important to be part of this community,” she says of Torque Financial Group’s support of AASP/MA. “We all have unique strengths we can offer. Each shop is unique in its own way. Every vendor is unique in their own way. We all bring something to the table. We can all add value by lifting each other up.” 

Want more? Check out the March 2024 issue of New England Automotive Report!