Expanding capacity, expanding service, expanding excellence.
In 2001, a new collision repair network was established in Quebec. Today, that network [ProColor] has expanded from 38 to over 170 locations. It’s also grown from a regional player into a national and international collision repair brand.
According to Daryll O’Keefe, Senior Vice President, Fix Network Canada the potential for growing ProColor across the country is hugely significant.
“ProColor has a strong legacy in the province of Quebec,” he says. When Fix Network acquired [ProColor] in 2019 as O’Keefe notes, there was significant potential in adding it to the portfolio of auto care brands within the Fix Network family.
“We saw that ProColor had a great value proposition. It was established and it had very loyal franchisees and a great legacy of high-quality repairs and a high standard of ethics,” states O’Keefe. “This really resonated with Fix Network, and we saw an opportunity to take the brand outside of Quebec and expand it across the country.”
At the time, the network’s existing collision repair brand, Fix Auto had also experienced very robust growth, but an issue that kept occurring was shop capacity. “We had reached a point where our shops were literally full—in some cases, jobs were booked out 16-18 weeks.”
The complexities of the collision repair business and franchise model mean that when a situation like that occurs it isn’t as simple as asking your existing franchise partners to expand operations and increase repair volumes. “Our Fix Auto shops were doing a great job, but after 30 years of growth and volume increases, we needed to look at a new strategy if we were going to effectively produce more work and be able to take on significantly more repair orders,” O’Keefe explains.
By acquiring ProColor, Fix Network had the opportunity to essentially double their collision repair capacity while utilizing core attributes of the same business model that had propelled them to such high levels of success in Canada’s collision repair market.
Prime targets for expanding the ProColor brand included major metro markets such as the Greater Toronto Area. And initially, 13 locations were signed up to bolster Fix Network’s capability in the GTA. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, turning the industry upside down. “For three years, we were essentially fighting for every car that came through the door,” O’Keefe recalls. However, the depths of the pandemic also proved to be an opportunity to really demonstrate the power and resiliency of well-run shops and a strong network.
Above and beyond the provision of work, says O’Keefe, “the operational sensibility, the vendor networks and customer service sensibilities we saw, clearly demonstrated that our ProColor locations were some of the best new operators we’d ever seen within the network. These strategic partners really cut their teeth at a time when there wasn’t a high volume of work available.”
From that foundation then, the opportunity to really come out of the gate running, especially as life normalized and repair volumes grew again, was immense.
O’Keefe describes the growth in the ProColor brand as a “second wave” of franchise opportunities for Fix Network. “The first growth of the banners and MSOs had its run around 7-8 years ago,” he explains. “Now, what we’re seeing is a new wave of shops and facilities coming on board with younger owners who have a different business model. Some are more vested in areas such as fleet and rental car repairs and are very highly skilled, but perhaps didn’t have the same stakeholder and vendor relationships we had, such as established insurer partnerships and DRP programs. We see today, a huge opportunity for those ProColor shops and management teams to enter the mainstream DRP world and build upon the success they’ve already established.”
Furthermore, as part of Fix Network, there is a chance for ProColor franchisees to realize unique opportunities. Not only can they leverage the capabilities of a global powerhouse within the aftermarket car care sector in terms of relationships and vendor partnerships, but they also gain access to the latest tools, equipment, software and training.
The human resources component that has to do with shop capacity represents both a major challenge and opportunity in today’s marketplace. At present, there is a significant shortage of labour here in Canada. As a result, many sectors are looking overseas to fill the gap. As a global entity, Fix Network is able to leverage its resources to source, train and develop talent in other parts of the world, including the Middle East, North Africa and Mexico. By providing qualified individuals with the necessary skills, and aligning them culturally with the market conditions in Canada, it provides a solid opportunity to address the skills gap and ease the capacity burden on collision repair centres.
Leveraging corporate assets
Additionally, the Fix Network franchise model enables independent ProColor and Fix Auto shops to leverage additional corporate assets, such as a fleet of tow trucks within their operating markets. “This helps with load-leveling, ensuring that our shops can effectively manage their workflow by providing them with the right vehicles at the right time. If one collision centre isn’t able to handle a particular vehicle, we can easily transfer it to another location that has room at that time,” O’Keefe explains.
Further advantages lie in being able to specifically tailor training to individual requirements and maximum exposure to various initiatives, including proprietary programs—such as Fix Network’s own welding certification—which is compatible with existing OEM programs.
Therefore, from a holistic standpoint, it becomes evidently clear that ProColor’s expansion across Canada via Fix Network’s growth strategy, expertise and resources, is truly a winning proposition.