The Importance of Being Locally Owned and Operated

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The hybrid model of CARSTAR allows owners to retain local ownership and operation. Photo: CARSTAR

Whether it has happened already or not, eventually, a large MSO will enter your market. As a local owner, you will likely look at this fact and consider it a massive challenge. However, what if you look at it as an opportunity?

Longtime collision repair professional and regional multi-store General Manager, Shaun Copeland, says this is the perfect time for owners to examine their own operations.

“It is always intimidating when a large MSO enters your market because they do get that automatic car count just by showing up,” says Shaun Copeland. “Changing your perspective to look at this as the checkpoint you need to stop and assess your own facilities future, is the most productive thing any owner can do in this situation.”

Shaun’s father, Jim, introduced his brother, Tracey Copeland, to collision repair in the early 80’s. Shortly after, Tracey purchased his first facility.

“Although this has been a family-owned operation, Tracey has always treated his facilities like growing businesses,” continues Shaun. “Having this expertise in the family is what has helped our repair centres thrive, and I was fortunate to be a part of this growth early. I joined the business in 2004 and we joined CARSTAR in 2005.”

Tracey only had the one facility when he decided to be a part of the CARSTAR network and since joining has grown his operations to nine facilities.

“Being a regional multi-store group is how we are able to drive profitability in this climate,” continues Shaun. “We can share capabilities like human resources, marketing, payroll and even our phone systems, so that we not only save, but it makes it easier for partners to work with us. However, this isn’t always enough to compete, which is why Tracey decided to join CARSTAR.  He saw where the industry was going and wanted that extra support.”

The resources large multi-national and corporately-owned facilities have include national insurance relationships, preferred pricing and additional marketing resources, among other things. Incredibly intimidating to most, it does not bother the Copeland’s, as they know they will always come out on top.

“Nothing beats the grassroots connection we have with our customers and partners, because we live and care about the communities we work in,” says Shaun. “Of course if a large group moves in, we take a moment to ensure all of our ducks are in a row. We review our processes, go over our KPIs with our insurance and fleet partners and make sure our customers are still happy with our work. However, we do not lose sight of who we are.”

Staying focused on their values and commitment to their community is how Shaun says they are able to outlast their competitors.

Shaun continues, “The estimators and managers of many of the consolidators may never even see the actual owners of their stores. Our employees see us daily and we are in this with them. We know our customers. We see them at our local little league games, car shows and grocery stores. We only want to do what is best for them. These values are what have gotten us this far and we know it is what gives us the staying power.”

This is the key benefit of the hybrid model of CARSTAR, as it allows owners to retain local ownership and operation. However, they also get to take advantage of the North American insights and resources. This is what Shaun cites as a unique and untapped benefit for other independently owned multi-store operations.

“I know franchise fees can be daunting for some, but we just look at it as another employee,” Shaun describes. “CARSTAR is working for us, so we have to pay them for their work; it’s as simple as that. We get the insights into what other regions are doing, how the industry is moving, field support for our operations, access to our performance metrics whenever we need, marketing resources, preferred vendor pricing and so much more.”

A part of the CARSTAR family for almost two decades, the Copeland’s have seen the organization shift and advance alongside the changing industry.

“Since CARSTAR joined Driven Brands in 2015, our resources have only increased, because we have even more support working for us,” highlights Shaun. “In addition to the corporate backing, we also get to work closely alongside other owners within CARSTAR. We have these EDGE Performance Group meetings, which do deep dives into operational and financial enhancements. We also have business groups, where we pool resources for the mutual benefit of us all. This comradery is why everyone refers to CARSTAR as a family.”

Although consolidation will continue within the collision repair industry, there are still options for independent owners who do not want to sell their business, but instead want to grow their operations. To see if you qualify in becoming an independent owner within the CARSTAR family visit CARSTARFranchise.ca.

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