Monday, 14 September 2015 15:11

Growing Trend of Collision Repair Networks Led to Formation of 1Collision Network

Over the last five years, the collision repair industry has experienced an increase in consolidations, shop closings, lower claims frequency and higher total losses. As a result, there is a growing trend for businesses to affiliate with a group of shops, according to Jim Keller, president of 1Collision Network.

“The consolidators, MSOs, franchises and networks continue to increase their market share because they are better able to adapt to the changing landscape,” said Keller. “Technology in the repair process, necessity for increasing capital investment in facility and equipment, and rising budget demands for training and certifications, marketing and insurer relations all require a more sophisticated business approach. Many other economic and marketing factors are driving the consolidators, franchises and network segments to be growing at the fastest rate.”

Launched by Keller approximately four years ago, 1Collision Network is an organization of independent and dealer-owned and operated collision repair businesses. With more than 20 locations in four states, including Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, Keller said plans include expansion into other U.S. markets. ABRA Auto Body & Glass, Caliber Collision, CARSTAR Auto Body Repair Experts, FIX AUTO, Gerber Collision & Glass, Maaco and Service King are the primary multi-state consolidators and franchises.

Daniel Clark, director of service operations for Link Auto & RV Group in Wisconsin, joined the 1Collision team in 2012.

“We saw that a partnership with 1Collision would bring many benefits to our customers and our business,” he said. “The 1Collision staff is like a third arm for our managers. It’s like having another whole team of employees at your fingertips. Their assistance with marketing, processes and leadership has been invaluable.”

Clark said it has also helped his business “get out of our box” by networking with other shops and share in their successes and trials.

“Networking with other like-minded shops helps expand our vision for our business. The 1Collision Network helps keep us aware of upcoming changes and trends in the industry so we can stay at the top of our game and be steps ahead of the local competition.”

Christy Jones, owner of R Jones in Des Moines, Iowa, also joined the network in 2012.

“The 1Collision Network provides an opportunity for R Jones to become a part of a regional group of shops, providing us with solutions for the many business challenges shops face in today’s competitive marketplace.”

She said R Jones has benefited from the numerous management solutions that have allowed the shop to run more efficiently. Her advice to shops considering joining the network is to come with the mentality of what they can bring to the network. “In the consolidation market that we have today, it’s more important now for independent shops to work with each other, not against each other,” said Jones. “The 1Collision Network provides that opportunity to do just that.”

Riverview Body Shop in Aurora, IL is the newest addition to 1Collision Network’s growing list of shops. “I selected the 1Collision Network as they provide body shop owners the resources that are needed to compete in today’s highly competitive marketplace,” said Joel Adams, Riverview’s owner.

Keller has been a multiple location body shop owner for over 30 years. His son Jim operates 1Collision County Line in Menomonee Falls, WI and 1Collision Schererville in IN, while Keller focuses on guiding the network corporate staff of eight to provide support to 1Collision Network locations. “Our mantra is, ‘We help successful shops be more successful.’”

When a new shop is considering joining the network, Keller said the corporate team looks for those that continually want to improve their business. “Some shops are comfortable with the status quo,” he said. “We typically look for shops that are interested in growing and building their businesses, building strong insurer relationships, and improving their performance.”

With a background in marketing, Keller has found that name recognition is often an important priority for shop owners. “We came up with a system of allowing them to brand with us so that they would not lose their identity in the marketplace,” he said. All of the logos for 1Collision shops incorporate the number “1” and the “swoosh” sign as identification and then the shop’s existing logo is added in the middle.

One of the shops in the network has been in business for 75 years. “The grandfather started the shop, and the family name was really important to perpetuate, as generations have had their cars fixed there,” said Keller. “We recognize that and built our brand off of a need for a shop to keep their market brand in front of the public, yet still be recognized as part of a shop group brand.”

Once a collision repair shop joins the network, a comprehensive marketing plan is developed, covering all aspects of promoting their shops to consumers, insurance companies and technicians.

Next, 1Collision Network addresses the shop’s online presence. “We believe that a strong online presence is critical,” said Keller. “Take care of your web presence first, and then build your strategies and tactics in your marketing plan once that’s squared away.” 

In addition to helping shops with their marketing needs, Keller stressed the importance of tracking performance. This includes gauging how well a shop is managing Key Performance Indicators. The company also assists with performance improvement coaching, recruiting, training and compliance, HR management and business development consulting.

Keller said working together as a collision repair group has several advantages.

“By taking the strength that we have in numbers, we are able to maximize our value to insurance companies,” said Keller. “There is definitely a trend in the industry for shop groups to be effective in their insurance relationship building due in part to the number of claims they handle per year as a group.”

As a single point of contact with the insurance claims offices, 1Collision Network is able to represent all of the shops in discussions with an insurer. “We work with insurance companies to identify where they have needs to be fulfilled, and then we work with them  in those areas where they have specific needs from a DRP partner, and provide management of ongoing performance improvement of the locations as well,” said Keller.

Another benefit he has found is the ability to combine resources to market to consumers. “Consumer marketing is becoming more and more important, especially with how popular the Internet is to find goods and services in this world today,” said Keller. “Part of what we are able to do is collectively and in a more affordable fashion combine our financial resources to raise brand awareness.”

In addition, he has found that a group of shops often have the ability to procure products and value-added services more effectively from strategic partners, as they know working with shop groups can bring them more volume, and a single point of contact for all the locations. “Our corporate strategic partners have been instrumental in our development as a network,” Keller said.   

“It’s easier to create an operating system when you’re in a group than it is for one store,  because it requires considerable knowledge, time and resources to put those systems together, that can be quite a challenge for a collision repair business owner.

An upfront fee covers the cost of what Keller refers to as “the onboarding” process such as developing the shop’s marketing plan, internet presence, logo design, and integrating their name with the network website and shop locator, promotional and informational pieces and DRP applications.There is also a monthly fee for ongoing services provided by 1Collision’s corporate office. 

“Our core business is helping successful independent shops and dealerships achieve greater success in all aspects of their collision repair business,” said Keller.

For more information, contact info@1collision.net or 414-289-7650.