CCG Shares Body Shop Advice & “Best Practices” During Coronavirus Restrictions
Written by Stacey Phillips, Autobody News
Published April 7, 2020
When the news first broke about the pandemic, the leadership team at Certified Collision Group (CCG) recognized the importance of finding ways to support their network of 446 independent body shops.
“We quickly realized that the more information we can share, the better off we’re all going to be,” said Marty Evans, COO of CCG. “This is true for our affiliate shops as well as the industry as a whole.”
CCG was founded in 2014 by four individuals passionate about the collision repair industry: Marc Sebastian, CEO of four Blake’s Auto Body shops in Northern California; Bill Lawrence, owner of 12 1st Certified Collision facilities in Southern California; Luis Alonso, president of seven Pan American Collision Centers in the San Jose, CA, area; and Tom Adams, owner of TAG Marketing.
“CCG was founded on a simple premise established by our founders, to level the playing field for the independent collision repair operator,” said Jeff Ingalls, VP of marketing at CCG. “We do so by partnering with only the best independent repairers, vendors, insurers and OEs. This alignment and partnership drive value for all while delivering the ultimate goal of providing the highest quality OE Certified repair on behalf of the customer.”
Since the onset of the coronavirus restrictions, Evans said they learned early to provide their shops with as much information as possible. As a result, CCG has regularly sent out online newsletters to all of its affiliates with facts and advice about the coronavirus as well as tips to help body shops run safely and effectively.
“Our goal is to communicate with them in an authentic, genuine way so they know we are here for them,” said Ingalls. “We have been providing tangible, pragmatic information in a way that isn’t inundating and flooding their inboxes.”
This includes links to many resources, such as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); local, state and county health department websites; and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. CCG has created a summary document with CARES Act Highlights.
To assist affiliate shops considering applying for a loan, CCG is sharing information about COVID19loans.org. The new service was started by Brad Mewes, owner of Supplement Advisory, to help shops understand the opportunities available and file the required paperwork.
Ingalls said these suggestions and tools are aimed to help their affiliates through these trying and demanding times.
“The health and well-being of the shops is something that CCG takes very seriously,” he said.
In addition to forwarding communication via email, CCG has also continued the practice of communicating with shops via phone. Rather than the usual weekly call, Evans said they are talking daily to connect.
“COVID-19 has changed our normal day-to-day conversations but our staff is still hard at work,” said Evans.
He said it’s advantageous for any organization to communicate more frequently at this time, to keep a positive energy and outlook.
“If we allow people to truly self-isolate and shut off communication, we all know that it’s a leading indicator to negative results and depression can set in quickly,” he said.
Rather than have employees rely on the local news for information, he recommends letting them know where the shop owner stands, what the expectations are at the workplace and the potential impacts.
“Communication is huge and transparency is key,” said Evans. “Nothing is worse than a surprise. Talk to them early and communicate with them often. Everyone has a personal choice on how they are going to deal with any adversity, and I would consider this to be significant adversity.”
Evans said he is aware of only a handful of businesses that have voluntarily closed since the stay-at-home orders were announced. Some facilities are now instituting split shifts, where half the staff works in the morning and the remainder works in the afternoon.
“Instead of furloughing and laying off people, we’re seeing shops finding a way to share the work as equitably as possible,” said Evans.
He recommends shop owners and managers stay as calm as possible and leave every conversation on a positive note.
“It may not be a positive message, but let’s leave with a positive thought.”
Ron Reichen, owner of Precision Paint & Body, a CCG affiliate in Oregon, agrees.
“I was just discussing how to stay positive and see the opportunities currently with a dealer service manager,” said Reichen. “More than ever, safety is in the forefront of everyone’s mind. That said, we should segue our conversations from how we are protecting our clients’ vehicles before and after drop-off to prevent the virus to how important a certified repair protects the clients’ safety for the years ahead.”
Sean Guthrie, director of operations at Car Crafters in New Mexico---another CCG affiliate---said his family was born and raised in Albuquerque and considers it their home. The company is partnering with local restaurants to serve lunch to their team, which he said helps support the local community and other mom-and-pop businesses.
“We feel now, more than ever, supporting those who make our home special is critical,” said Guthrie. “United together, we will get through these hard times.”
“Through this experience, we are becoming much better communicators within our shops and the entire repair community,” said Sebastian, co-founder of CCG. “In the immediate, this is not about profit; it is about keeping our team employed, feeling valued and keeping our economy running. We can do it. It starts through consistent, daily, caring communication with our team, our customers, our partners and even the competition. Together we will emerge better, stronger, and more connected … in that I am confident.”
“At the end of the day, we have to get through it together as an industry,” said Evans. “We’re all going to be facing similar challenges. Let’s find a way to share best practices and protect our industry as a whole.”
14 COVID-19 Best Practices from the CCG team:
1. Appoint a coronavirus action plan coordinator who will disseminate updated virus information, protocols and policies to everyone in the business.
2. Post CDC, state and/or county information regarding the virus to educate teammates. Remember to use bilingual posts as necessary.
3. Source all products and supplies required to properly disinfect objects, buildings and vehicles, including disinfectants, hand sanitizer, bleach, soap, rags, gloves, masks, etc.
4. Be sensitive to those who are in high-risk categories and explore remote work options.
5. Require associates to stay home if they exhibit signs of the virus---fever, cough and respiratory problems---or any contagious illness such as a cold or the flu.
6. Maintain appropriate social distancing at all times. The recommendation is 6 feet. CCG’s "Social Distancing in Your Shops" flyer has additional information.
7. Require shop uniforms to remain at the workplace and ensure they are cleaned every day. Have employees store personal clothing in their vehicles and encourage hand washing before retrieving them.
8. Expand photo estimating capabilities, which can provide remote work for qualified writers.
9. Institute curbside drop-off and delivery and set up a secure area where customers can call or text when they arrive. Use phone, text or email for all discussions, authorizations and approvals. Consider disbanding customer pick-up and home delivery service. CCG provided a sample front door sign explaining the temporary policy.
10. Thoroughly disinfect all vehicles prior to any associate touching or entering them and all vehicles post-repair before delivering them to customers.
11. Eliminate group lunches at the shop, stagger lunch breaks and refrain from having self-serve food and beverages in the front office and break rooms.
12. Show compassion and offer assistance if an employee becomes infected. CCG sample protocol to follow.
13. Research the small business emergency loans available.
14. Share best practices with other body shops and vendor partners.
For more information about CCG and to share best practices, email Jeff Ingalls at firstname.lastname@example.org.