Tuesday, 09 February 2016 16:12

NC Shops Seek to Form New Association with Guidance from West Coast Industry Professional Jeff Franco

Shop owners in North Carolina have decided that it’s time to form a new association to represent the industry’s interests in their state.

For assistance, they reached out to Jeff Franco, former AZ Collision Craftsman’s Association State President and also a former Board member for the California Autobody Association’s Palm Springs Chapter. This new association, tentatively being called the North Carolina Auto Body Association (NCABA)until further notice, will meet for the first time on Thursday, February 25 at 6:30PM at Dave & Busters in Concord, NC.

According to Franco, President of Elite Sales & Marketing Group based in Oceanside CA, 28 collision shops have responded to the meeting invitation, along with 14 Elite Sales & Marketing Group dealership parts managers, who will attend in support of the endeavor.

Although several attempts have been made to start an association in North Carolina, no associations are currently active. Franco and many shop owners he has spoken to agree “that they do need to all come together. I personally feel there should be an association in every state to give industry professionals a voice.”

In order for NCABA to be formed successfully, Franco predicts that it will require “quite a bit of time and a lot of involvement from vendors and collision shops, as well as the shops’ commitment to the collision industry as a whole.”

He also knows that there are obstacles to overcome with this initiative.

“The biggest challenge is how some shops see an association. Some see it as ‘Oh, not me as I’m a DRP, and I’m not taking a chance of losing this.’ The question that is asked by many shops is whether the association is being established to battle the insurance companies, but this is totally false! The objective is to work together as we are all in the same industry, whether it’s a non-DRP shop or a DRP shop.”

Helping everyone work together is the primary goal for NCABA.

According to Franco, “Our company has always believed in the word TEAM: Together Everyone Accomplishes More. Consumer awareness along with education is the key here. I don’t look at anything short-term. I have been, and continue to be very passionate about working with the consumers and insurance companies to make it fair for all involved. I would like to see NC as one of the largest associations in the US. Our company, Elite Sales & Marketing Group, along with every one of our employees and dealers, believe we can make a difference as a TEAM in every state in which we operate.”

Although Franco is located in California, his role with NCABA is to help the shops form the association, elect a board, set up guest speakers, and list the chapter as a 501-C trade organization. Despite his distance, he has assured the shops involved that he is only a phone call away, and his company’s NC Territory Manager, Josh Kent, will stay involved to help the chapter build its membership base.

There are many benefits of belonging to a trade association.

Franco explained, “For the past 40 years, I have been involved in many associations, both new and old. I feel that belonging to an association allows the group to seek out special programs. Each state association is different, but savings can sometimes exceed dues through special programs that the Board can put in effect for its members.”

Some of the discounts that associations can receive, and that Franco hopes NCABA will be able to acquire for its members, include liability insurance, workers’ compensation insurance, collection services, and environmental and hazardous material management.

Franco added, “Associations keep members informed about current events and legislation through monthly chapter newsletters, and associations also provide representation to give members a voice in legislation on bills and proposed laws. Most importantly, associations provide education, not only for members, but also to keep consumers up-to-date on their rights with monthly guest speakers from the collision repair industry.”

Those interested in attending NCABA’s preliminary meeting can RSVP to Josh Kent, Territory Manager for Elite Sales & Marketing Group, at 704-998-8553.