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Resilience and Opportunity

Autosphere » Collision » Resilience and Opportunity
Maaco President Chris Dawson, addresses members of the media during a virtual conference on December 3, 2020. Photo: Driven Brands

Maaco appears well-positioned for continued growth and success as we head into a new year

On December 2, Maaco Collision Repair & Auto Painting held its annual North American Maaco Convention, though due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it was held virtually this year.

The event provided the opportunity to highlight key successes during the course of the year, the significant achievements of franchisees and updates from the corporate team regarding strategy and initiatives.

Following the convention, Maaco’s President, Chris Dawson, provided an overview of some of the developments witnessed in 2020 and how the company is positioning itself and its franchisees for success in the future.

Celebrating achievement

Dawson said that while it was disappointing that a physical convention could not be held this year, there was still a reason to celebrate achievements during 2020.

“This year has been all about resiliency and momentum,” said Dawson. “We saw tremendous gains in the back half of 2020 and really wanted to take the opportunity to share that success with our franchisees.”

Dawson noted that there was a huge opportunity to adapt and pivot Maaco’s business at the start of this year and what transpired is that franchisees within the network placed a great emphasis on collaboration with the corporate team to drive success forward in the midst of COVID-19 transmission spread and government lockdowns across North America.

A key one was spreading awareness among the Maaco franchise community about the various government support programs on offer as well as putting in place corporate relief mechanisms to ensure sustainability for the long haul.

Unique approach

When it came to marketing through uncertain times, Maaco has delivered a unique approach. “We quickly pivoted at a time where businesses were laying off employees and reducing their marketing dollars,” said Dawson. “We actually went with a different strategy—starting off with a tiered approach to marketing and spending on some of our less expensive marketing channels to see how our consumers would react.”

It proved extremely successful. “We saw that our customers were still extremely interested in doing business with Maaco,” said Dawson, which enabled the company to expand its marketing initiatives and add people and resources in the process.

“We got aggressive with our advertising and marketing and we saw an instant response from consumers,” said Dawson.

He noted that momentum really started to build during the second half of the year, placing both Maaco and its franchisees in a good position as we move into 2021. This momentum has also allowed Maaco to help position its franchisees to ensure they are able to repair the increasingly advanced vehicles hitting the roads today and into the future.

This has included investing in certification and training, such as recognition for collision repair centres that have achieved gold, platinum and diamond certification. “We currently have over 200 gold, 130 platinum and 20 diamond certified centres and those numbers continue to grow,” said Dawson.

I-CAR training and business processes, including SOPs and sales strategies, have also been a key part in helping drive Maaco forward.

“The key message going forward,” said Dawson, “is to continue to drive cars to our shops—that is our number one goal.” He noted that as far as Maaco is concerned, “there is no strategy being left unturned in trying to figure out how to drive as much volume and as much business to our individual franchisee shops.” And that includes retail as well as fleet and trade business. “Our bottom line is driving profitability for our franchisees,” said Dawson.

Uniquely positioned

As part of the Driven Brands family of automotive aftermarket service providers, Maaco is uniquely positioned, due to the nature of its business model.

According to Michael Macaluso, Group President and EVP, Paint, Collision & Glass, “the different nature of Maaco, with the business being predominantly retail, opens up an entirely different lens and viewpoint, there is no true competitor in North America.”

Macaluso pointed out that the results of Maaco’s marketing strategies toward retail consumers has been “nothing short of tremendous,” with a combination of both traditional and technology-focused initiatives to provide quality service and support for consumers across the network.

Chris Dawson provided a deeper dive into some of these programs, including Maaco’s contactless sales process, designed to assure customers and keep them safe during the pandemic, as well as a webinar series called RAMP (Readiness, Attitude, Management and People) that was put together at the outset of the pandemic and ran for 12 straight weeks.

“It was a massive collaboration between our corporate team and our top-performing franchisees,” said Dawson.

The webinar series allowed franchisees from across the network to come together for a Q&A session where ideas were shared and best practices benchmarked and/or adopted. “That ongoing collaboration as a network really allowed us to reach a new level of standards very quickly,” said Dawson.

Online estimating

Another initiative that helped contribute to Maaco’s success during 2020 has been the implementation of its Online Estimating Tool (OET). This proprietary tool allows consumers to go onto the Maaco website and engage with a tool that can generate an estimate for paintwork on their vehicle. “This absolutely changed our business during 2020,” said Dawson.

With fleet and trade business declining in 2020 due to business shutdowns and fewer miles driven, the pandemic has provided Maaco with the opportunity to really zero-in on its unique retail model by putting in place tools like the OET and specific sales and marketing initiatives designed to appeal to retail clients.

Looking into 2021, Dawson said with Maaco having been in business for almost 50 years and declared as providing an essential service during the pandemic, there is a solid, resilient business model in place which has been garnering increasing attention from new, prospective franchisees. “There is a foundation there that says that MAACO has obviously been doing something right for a very long time and we have had an influx of new development both on the new growth side as well as among some of our more tenured franchisees,” said Dawson. “Our growth is continuing to move upward, and we are really excited about what 2021 has to offer.”

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