Tuesday, 23 February 2016 23:50

Looking Outside of Industry for New Ideas Prompted Maaco Partnership With Pep Boys

Shortly after Maaco announced a national partnership with Pep Boys in March and the opening of two GA satellite locations, Autobody News interviewed Jose Costa, the group president of the paint and collision division for Driven Brands, which owns Maaco. We asked Costa what it takes for a body shop to think outside of the box and continually advance their business.

His advice is to do a lot of reading. “I encourage our team to read and learn as much as they can and to be inquisitive and learn from other industries,” said Costa. Many people just look at their competitors and their industry. There is so much learning that other industries can teach the aftermarket automotive industry.”

Costa said the satellite model has been implemented in other industries with much success.

Marco spent the last two years testing the concept, opening 18 locations. They currently target affluent female consumers who spend more money in car repair and visit a shop more regularly.

Costa said it’s a fraction of the cost to set up a satellite location because the repair is still done in one of Maaco’s main facilities. “It’s basically a concierge service,” explained Costa. “You write the estimate, you get a loaner for the consumer and you take the keys there. Then we transport the vehicle to the production facility, which is usually three to five miles away.”

Over the last 18 months of testing, they have averaged about eight to 10 cars a week, generating about $275,000 to $300,000 incremental to the production facility.

The first two Maaco shops opened in March in existing Pep Boys locations at 1531 Cobb Parkway S, Marietta, GA and 5000 Highway 138, Union City, GA. Plans are in place to open additional locations in Los Angeles, CA.

The shops offer full-service automotive services, including auto painting, collision repair, insurance claims, fleet and industrial services, paintless dent repair, scratch repair, detailing, trim insulation and dealing, with the support of nearby Maaco production shops.

Costa said they plan to use a mobile estimating platform in some of the Pep Boys satellite locations as well as digital merchandising boards, with the intent of saving space and enhancing the customer experience. “The footprint varies from location to location so where we have more space we can have more merchandising,” said Costa.

“Easy access to Maaco’s services will be a great addition for our customers,” said Joe Cirelli, SVP Real Estate & Construction for Pep Boys. “Maaco has a reputation for quality work, and Pep Boys’ customers now have a truly full-service automotive maintenance shop for all of their needs.”

“It was a great fit,” said Costa, referring to the partnership. “They have a lot of foot traffic that they bring to their stores. They don’t offer the type of service we offer so it was complementary. Our consumers are very similar so it made sense to develop this partnership with Pep Boys.”

The goal is to open 25 to 50 satellite locations a year. CARSTAR, also owned by Driven Brands, uses a similar model in Canada. “We’re very excited about this concept and we feel it puts our brand in front of the consumer,” said Costa.

A fan of the franchise model, Costa said it helps the middle-America small business owner take their company to the next level. “There are incredible benefits to being a franchise owner,” he said. “I call franchisees ‘light entrepreneurs’ because you get a playbook and you are getting a support structure from a national brand so it’s a lot easier to play within the guardrails of the brand versus being a small independent.” He said it also gives an owner more purchasing power and access to technology and marketing.

Maaco invests more than $25 million in marketing. “There is no way a small independent can do that,” said Costa. “Our training arm — with Maaco University and CARSTAR University — are best-in-class schools for technicians.” Maaco currently has more than 490 locations in the U.S. and Canada and plans to have 1,000 by 2020.

“A lot of people gave us a hard time when we first joined because we didn’t have automotive experience, but we brought a very fresh perspective and that’s where those ideas, like our partnership with Pep Boys came from,” said Costa. “We like to be pioneers and we hope that we can help the industry and help raise the tide for everyone.”

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