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As the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S. in March, Maaco Collision Repair and Auto Painting implemented a three-stage strategy for dealing with the crisis and helping its franchisees plan for the future.
Maaco’s first step was rallying around their franchisees and owners to help them navigate the uncertainty.
“In stage one, the corporate support teams shifted their focus quickly from daily operations to supporting the franchise owners in other ways, providing guidance and assistance with the application process for government and Driven Brands programs available for business and employee financial relief,” said Dave Gross, regional vice president of operations for Maaco. “Through our communication platform, Rally Point, we share information and best practices among the family of franchise owners, as well as the franchise owners sharing best practices peer to peer.”
“When the pandemic hit, the world stopped spinning for a lot of people,” said Tim Wright, owner of a Maaco center in Farmington, Mich. “But the Maaco management team was quick to make the adjustments necessary to support their franchisees when it was needed the most.”
The second stage of support was to prepare the centers to address the new operating procedures in a COVID-19 era, keeping customers and employees safe. Maaco named the program R.A.M.P. (Readiness-Attitude-Management-People), which included a six-week series of webinars on topics such as maintaining social distancing on the production line, implementing a touchless intake process, proper disinfecting procedures and proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
“The R.A.M.P program was a collaborative effort among the operations, training and marketing teams, along with franchisees, to share learnings and best practices,” said Gross. “Our franchise operators are on the front lines and have a lot to share.”
“What was great about the R.A.M.P. program was that the franchisees were involved in providing and presenting the content to their peers,” Wright said.
Joe Houghton, a 31-year Maaco franchisee in West Springfield, Mass., seconded the importance of teamwork and communication with Maaco’s corporate team and the franchisees.
“The COVID-19 pandemic was a unique situation that no one has ever faced before, and communication was critical to success,” said Houghton. “There was constant communication between the advisory council and the Maaco management team, where everyone could share their concerns and ideas. This provided a support system that helped everyone focus on what needed to be done to be safe and keep business coming in. The corporate teams did a great job of coming together, and with our collective input, creating programs to support the franchisees while implementing all the safety procedures needed to keep our customers and employees safe.”
The network of more than 400 locations is now in stage three, as all Maaco Collision Repair and Auto Painting centers are open for business and implementing the practices that they learned to not only make proper and safe auto repairs but to keep customers and employees safe as well in the process. A side benefit of the situation is that the centers used the time to make upgrades to their facilities and utilize the time for more skills training for technicians.
“During the state shutdowns, even though we were classified as essential, business had slowed as it did for the rest of the repair industry,” said Tyson Disbennett, director of certification for Maaco. “That gave owners and technicians more time to complete I-CAR training and make the enhancements to their operations needed to become Platinum. We now have more centers that are Platinum, meaning they are qualified to perform national fleet repairs, than we did pre-pandemic. That translates to more revenue opportunities for those centers.”
Maaco implemented the certification program in late 2018 with the goal of improving the customer experience, while ensuring that each center is equipped with the right tools and technology, and technicians are prepared to service the type of business that they are focused on serving.
To learn more about franchising opportunities with Maaco, visit maacofranchise.com.