Early in December, Driven Brands Collision Group held a virtual summit themed “UNIT3D.”
During the event, speakers talked about the challenges the industry is facing and the importance of unity among the Driven Brands’ franchises to pave a path forward.
After welcoming attendees to the event, Michael Macaluso, Driven Brands’ group president and EVP, paint, collision & glass, discussed the importance of strength for the company’s family of family businesses.
“This year has certainly been trying but absolutely rewarding,” said Macaluso. “We’ve adjusted, we’ve pivoted and we’ve persevered.”
Macaluso said that most importantly, throughout 2020, Driven Brands has tried to ensure the safety and health of the team, customers, franchisees and partners within the network.
Guest speaker Mike Anderson, owner of Collision Advice, discussed the state of the industry and then held a panel discussion focused on current industry issues during the pandemic.
“I understand that there are challenges in our industry right now with COVID…” said Anderson. “You don’t have to have it all figured out. All you have to do is be willing to reach out to other people and say, ‘Can you help me?’ It’s really that simple.”
He pointed out how the Driven Brands family has recently grown and advised attendees not to underestimate the value, importance and strength of the franchisees reaching out to one another to help accomplish a goal.
An additional keynote speaker was Nancy Friedman, founder and chairman of the Telephone Doctor. Friedman shared tips and techniques on the “Golden Nuggets of Sales & Customer Service” during the pandemic.
She encouraged attendees to...
...prepare for the unexpected, embrace change, do something extra, return phone calls and make sure not to be too busy.
Throughout the event, brand updates were given by company leaders.
“2020 has been a year to forget,” said Landon Thompson, vice president of operations, Fix Auto USA. “All businesses have faced challenging conditions this year, but few have really gone through what we have.”
He pointed to the three-and-a-half-year dispute with Mondo that was resolved Feb. 5. He also talked about the acquisition by Driven Brands six weeks after the coronavirus broke out.
Despite the challenges with COVID-19, 21 new franchise locations were added over the year.
“We’ve prided ourselves on being great performers and not only have we sustained our performance, we’ve improved it,” Thompson said.
Mark Wahlin, VP, franchise development & operations, ABRA, said 2020 for ABRA actually started in October 2019, when Driven Brands acquired the franchise.
Since the pandemic, Wahlin noted, there has been additional work at the shop level related to the safety protocols for both employees and consumers.
“It was an amazing shift and through it all, the centers stayed open,” he said. “The comeback has been amazing. At the end of October  as a group, our sales are slightly ahead of that same time period as 2019. As we look forward to finishing up this year and growing into 2021, the expectations are high for that growth to continue.”
Jeff Labanovich, GM of CARSTAR Canada, gave an update on CARSTAR North America and then spoke about the network’s resilience in 2020 during the pandemic. He said through all of the challenges, CARSTAR has persevered and learned to adapt.
“Being thrust into this change, I’ve just seen such resilience,” said Labanovich. “… store owners, marketing groups standing together to figure out how to do things differently in an environment where honestly the market share is shrinking and that is something we need to be seriously protective of.”
In addition to the brand updates, Arlo Johnson, SVP Insurance, talked about...
...the learnings from the year and key industry updates in regard to network performance and strength.
“Our primary responsibility is to help CARSTAR, Fix Auto USA and ABRA stores grow sales,” said Johnson. “We’re very focused on adding DRPs and that’s how my team is measured.”
Johnson estimated they added more than 1,000 DRPs in 2020 across all three brands in the U.S., and 77% are with top 10 carriers.
Top-performing franchise partners for ABRA, CARSTAR and Fix Auto USA were also honored for their excellence in Length of Rental (LOR) and Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI). Honors were given to the following:
- LOR: ABRA, Rochester, MN, owned by Tom Kadlec, District Manager Kris Joeckel and Manager Angie Henry
- CSI: ABRA, Sparta, MI, owned by Pablo Rodriquez, District Manager Del King and General Manager Dan Rowan
- LOR: CARSTAR Bridgewater, Bridgewater, NS, owned by Wendy and Kevin Enimo
- CSI: CARSTAR Collingwood, Collingwood, ON, owned by Gary Boucher
- LOR: CARSTAR Premier, Houston, TX, owned by Moe Shaban
- CSI: CARSTAR Greenfield Autobody, Greenfield, WI, owned by Mariusz Stanisz
Fix Auto USA
- LOR: Fix Auto Irvine, Irvine, CA, James Huard and Amanda Fazio, corporate ops leaders, Store Manager Jessica Delgado
- CSI: Fix Auto Modesto-City Center, Modesto, CA, owned by Krish Chand
At the close of the event, Dean Fisher, president of the Driven Brands Collision Group, shared some final thoughts as the group looks ahead to moving forward together for a successful 2021.
“Through what has been a year like no other, these franchise partners have risen above to consistently outperform in operations, customer experience and community engagement,” said Fisher. “We’re proud to recognize their accomplishments. They are truly role models for our Driven Brands family and the collision repair industry.”
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