The Certified Collision Group (CCG) experienced a substantial amount of growth and success in 2019, adding 164 affiliate shops and five new vendor partners in addition to increasing its internal team significantly.
On Dec. 17, CCG hosted a teleconference to review the year’s successes and discuss plans to sustain and enhance their growth in 2020 and beyond.
The teleconference featured CCG’s CEO Tom Matlack and COO Marty Evans, as well as Vice President of Affiliate Services Bob Cornelius, Vice President of Vendor Procurement Ernie Laky, Vice President of Insurance Services Chris Sestito, and Vice President of Marketing Jeff Ingalls who served as moderator for the discussion.
Prior to the call, Ingalls had informed attendees via email that “CCG more than doubled its internal team in 2019, including bringing on a new CEO as well as four VPs across both insurance services and marketing.”
“In the last month, four CCG affiliates have earned national awards/recognition,” Ingalls’ email continued. “Dalton Collision was honored at SEMA with the I-CAR Russ Verona Memorial Award for Gold Class Shop of the Year, and when the annual Verifacts Automotive ACE and March Taylor Awards were handed out, CCG affiliates took three of six awards. Eurotech Refinishing and Collision in Bellflower, CA, received the 2018-2019 ACE Award for Outstanding Shop of the Year, Outstanding Craftsmanship as an Advanced Materials Technician Award went to Chris Sandoval of Car Crafters Auto Body Shop, and Outstanding Craftsmanship as a Paint & Refinish Technician was awarded to Dave Hoehler from Mahnke Auto Body. We also just announced our inaugural CCG National Conference for September, 2020.”
Ingalls, who joined CCG in August 2019, kicked things off by welcoming attendees: “This is an exciting time for CCG. Our growth and news were both big in 2019. CCG has a lot of great reasons to share our story within the industry.”
Ingalls then introduced COO Evans who has been with CCG since 2017.
Evans said, “Because CCG is owned and operated by collision repair shop owners, we see the market through the eyes of repairers. In 2014, our founders saw a need for industry shops to stay relevant and thrive due to the threat of consolidation in many markets, so they began aligning a network of shops, offering a low-cost option that brings value that is otherwise unattainable by independent repairers. We are largely driven by two key components: insurance relations and a robust procurement program that’s become a very viable option for independents to get to scale without having own multiple locations.”
When asked how CCG’s business model differs from that of consolidators, Evans explained, “Shops that participate in our program are independently owned and operated. They don’t brand as CCG because they maintain their own identity and complete control of their operations. The shops are brought together by performance, and CCG gets involved in the performance management side so we can jump in to help with issues that arise. Our network is comprised of the top 10 to 15% of independents in the business, including some dealerships.”
Ingalls next introduced Sestito, vice president of Insurance Services who joined CCG in early 2019. Sestito stated, “CCG is strongly positioned in this industry. From our leadership to our roster of affiliates, we set ourselves apart from the competition. In Insurance Services, CCG leaders are taking their experience and working with affiliates so we can live up to the commitments we make when partnering with insurance companies and becoming their repairer of choice. We want to grow mutually and provide the best customer experience and the best repair in the industry. We work with insurers to find out what they need and where they have a need, and then we demonstrate that we have affiliates to live up to those commitments. CCG partners the right affiliates with the right insurers to return our mutual customers back to their normal lives.”
Expressing pride in CCG’s vendor partners, Ingalls introduced Laky, vice president of Vendor Procurement since 2016, who explained how CCG is able to leverage vendor partner relationships to bring value to affiliate shops.
“When an affiliate can’t get a service issue resolved locally, we can escalate the concern to the vendor’s corporate office for resolution. This is typically something an independent repairer can’t do on their own.”
CCG partners with well-known industry providers, such as AkzoNobel, PPG and 3M, to provide value-added benefits on a variety of products and services. “We look at the types of products our affiliates use on a regular basis and try to meet their needs and provide extra value by partnering with those vendors. We’re always looking for additional vendors and ways to add value,” Laky stated.
Cornelius, vice president of Affiliate Services since 2016, described his role of vetting affiliates next. “Prospects are shops that are referred to us, and we only take prospects by referrals, which come from our affiliates as well as our vendor and insurer partners, because they know what we’re looking for and only send the top ten to 15% to us. If the prospect successfully passes our vetting process, they become an affiliate. This is what we call a win-win-win; it’s a win for CCG, a win for our vendors and insurers, and a win for the new affiliate because we help them grow their business,” he explained.
After CCG receives a prospect’s application, the business development group explains the process to the prospect, and once a non-disclosure agreement is signed, CCG vets the prospect by examining the shop’s KPIs, CSIs, I-CAR status, current DRPs, community involvement, business practices, certification status, equipment and more to acquire a “pretty good idea of who that prospect is so we can make a recommendation about whether to offer them a contract,” Cornelius shared.
“If they’re not a fit, we share information on where they need to improve and ask them to contact us in the future if they’re still interested,” he continued. “If they are a fit, we move forward with making them an affiliate. Once the contracting process is complete, we have an onboarding call to set up their accounts and profile. Then, my team becomes the single point of contact going forward to make it easy for them to settle in while still having consistent discussion going back and forth.”
Again, referencing CCG’s significant internal growth in 2019, Ingalls introduced Matlack who came out of retirement in July 2019 to accept the position of CEO at CCG. Matlack noted, “This is our coming out party. We’re doing something pretty cool, and we’ve been doing it quietly for a while, but now we want to put it out there and explain how it’s unique. We have a different business model which has particular power. In our network, we have affiliates, vendor partners, insurance partners and ourselves, and by participating in this network, all four parties are better off. That fact is visible in the rapid growth of this business.”
Since it was founded, CCG grew relatively slowly at first but has exploded over the past couple years, a fact that Matlack believes “speaks to the absolute desire of the top independent shops to remain independents but compete with consolidators. They see a threat in the marketplace and feel the need to do something. We get them access to discounts and help them navigate the top end of KPIs, but they retain ownership of their business.”
“CCG is focused on investing in people and employing technology. We have the highest quality network out there based on the number of certifications and the actual performance of our affiliates,” Matlack continued. “CCG’s shops are not like our competitors’ shops, so that affords us leverage when negotiating with our vendor and insurer partners. Our goal and track record show we have the highest performing group, so the insurer is happy, the customer is happy, and we’re happy to bring more volume to our affiliates. CCG is growing rapidly, and I foresee that continuing into the future.”
At the time of the teleconference, CCG boasted 419 affiliates, but Cornelius explained, “There’s a number in the vetting process, and our number of affiliates fluctuates daily. We started 2019 with 273 affiliates and experienced 72% growth over the course of the year.”
Evans added, “We added over 150 affiliates in 2019, and we’re working to maintain that growth. We’re increasing our infrastructure to support the growth, and we’re focusing on investing in the right people and technology to grow our affiliates’ businesses in 2020 and beyond.”
For more information on the Certified Collision Group, visit certifiedcg.com.