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Aligning with an established aftermarket franchise network is a sound option for independent body shops in the current economic uncertainty, says Steve Leal.

Many body shops begin with a simple dream – their owner is passionate about cars and loves to see vehicles restored to their old glory. A few years down the line, after a great deal of hard work and man-hours, that initial passion dies down and the owner begins to wonder if he or she made the right choice of running their own operations. Eventually, the dream ends up in losses, heartbreak and closed shops.

If this has happened to you, you are not the only one. Each year, thousands of independent businesses around the world are winding up their operations as they cannot adjust to the rapidly changing world around them and/or they are not steering their business in the right direction.

The aftermarket industry has been largely recession-resistant and, in the current scenario, has been operating as an essential service. But, having said that, body shops are not insulated from failures. Over the years, many independent body shops have been actively looking at aligning their businesses with an established franchise network such as ProColor Collision to be able to remain current on the changing trends and create value for their clients through enhanced customer care and better service standards.

Being a franchisee has several advantages, the main one being that you are in absolute control of your own business, while your franchisor works behind the scenes to facilitate your success. Most established franchisors run a successful business model that has already been extensively tested and the kinks worked out. Remember, a franchisor’s success depends on the success of his franchisee, so the franchisor will be actively and passionately involved in your business’ operations.

Franchise options in the aftermarket industry are many – from collision repair to mechanical services to glass repair and replacement. Depending on your budgets, you can start from a low investment and then scale up your operations, depending on your business success.

Below are some top reasons why you should consider taking up an aftermarket franchise in your neighbourhood:

Brand Recognition: When you become a franchisee, you benefit from brand recognition and credibility almost instantly. This helps, so you won’t have to invest the time, money and resources in building a brand from scratch. Motorists prefer to entrust their vehicles to brands that are associated with quality and credibility.

Easier Access to Insurance Providers and Parts Suppliers: Because franchisors have stronger relationships with insurance providers and parts suppliers, franchisees can look forward to easier and faster processing of claims and better rates on original parts. Franchisors leverage volume orders to negotiate better pricing. Typically, they pass on the cost savings to their franchisees. You may never get these benefits as an independent shop owner.

Access to Training & Resources: Most franchisors run extensive first-time and refresher training for the franchisee’s staff – an ongoing process to ensure that they remain on top of modern automotive trends. Automotive technology is changing rapidly, and the aftermarket industry needs to ensure that technicians are fully trained to repair the most modern vehicles. In addition, shop staff are also trained in improving the customer experience and business operations by knowledgeable franchisor teams.

Greater Access to Financing: Once you decide to become a franchisee, potential lenders are more comfortable loaning you the funds you need to invest in a franchise. Often, the franchisor works with your teams to help you secure the desired funds using their own strong network of reputed financiers.

Marketing Support: Throughout the year, the franchisor’s marketing team creates awareness about your business in the primary target areas and engaging your customers in a wider geographic region through regular campaigns and initiatives, while you concentrate on running your business. The team also informs you regularly on opportunities and trends that may have an impact on our business.

Improving Efficiencies: Shop owners always look at ways on how to maximise their shop operations and improve efficiencies. This is where a franchisor can help. Through time-tested operational strategies and workflow improvement methods, you can get the most of your operations and stay ahead of your competitor.

Certification: Franchisors work with leading government and industry bodies to ensure that franchisees and their teams are trained to handle the most complex repairs in a safe manner and to OEM specifications. Certification gives customers peace of mind knowing that their vehicles are the safe hands of a franchisee’s certified team.

Being a franchisee is a different ballgame altogether. As you consider this option, my advice is to look at different options – do your research properly, look at how you can score over the competition, talk to your peers, and look at the costs involved. But getting started is the key. As the poet W.B. Yeats said, “Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot but make it hot by striking.”

Steve Leal is the President & CEO of Fix Network World, the leading global automotive aftermarket services network which includes ProColor Collision. The family of brands spans over 2,000 points of service internationally. In the United States, Mondofix, Inc. has granted an exclusive license to 79411 USA LLC to the FIX AUTO brand.

This article is sponsored by ProColor Collision. For more information, please visit https://procolor.com/en-us/.

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