That is the philosophy of Gary Boesel, owner of CARSTAR Alpine Auto Body and CARSTAR Jordan Road Collision in Denver. Boesel, a leader in the CARSTAR family for nearly 30 years and longtime member of the CARSTAR Advisory Board, said while his business has been through ups and downs over the year, the COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the most challenging. But as the country begins to open up, he is optimistic about the future of the collision repair industry and how it is changing for the better.
While collision repair facilities were declared “essential businesses,” almost all of them saw declines in business as people stopped driving during quarantine. Boesel’s business was no different, but his preparation was, and it created a positive path out of the storm.
“We have been affected like everyone else,” noted Boesel. “We were fortunate enough to have a backlog of work at my stores, and that helped us stay busy for a few weeks. We worked through that backlog while adjusting our daily operations to comply with safety standards and procedures. The good news is we have seen signs of rebound in early June.”
Boesel and his daughter Kelly Domer, general manager of the CARSTAR Jordan Road location, credit their “Culture of Process” that focuses on building operational consistency on a day-to-day basis when business is good with helping them keep things running smoothly during the workflow disruption.
“Being part of the CARSTAR network has been instrumental during this entire situation,” said Domer. “They have communicated to the entire CARSTAR system with ongoing electronic communication and weekly webinars and calls. They have provided financial assistance and worked with certain vendors to negotiate terms, along with COVID-specific guidance on PPE products. They have also provided ongoing store support regarding government loan information, and individual store coaching through our regular CARSTAR operations support staff.”
CARSTAR is North America’s largest franchise network of independently owned and operated collision repair facilities with more than 750 locations in 35 states and 10 Canadian provinces. A part of the Driven Brands family of automotive aftermarket franchise brands, CARSTAR delivers national scale, premier vehicle repairs, repeatable outcomes and the industry’s highest customer satisfaction ratings.
Boesel leveraged their relationship with CARSTAR to manage their two locations during the downturn and relied on their guidance to pursue federal assistance.
“We applied for PPP funding and secured that in late April, and that allowed us to commit to what I referred to as our ‘CV-19 Budget’,” said Boesel. “As we evaluated our mandatory expenditures, we leveraged every available option with regard to any existing financial commitments, setting up deferrals where possible, prioritizing payables and projecting expenses at a much more refined level than we have in recent times. We put a lot of focus on open communication, internally and externally, so everyone understood the goals and strategy. We have also leveraged our long-standing 29 year relationship with CARSTAR, taking their guidance and best practice leadership advice in many areas.”
While Boesel has navigated challenging business cycles before, he said he and his team have learned a tremendous amount over the past few months.
“I have learned that we can adapt quicker than I could have ever imagined,” he said. “While I would hope we will never see something as impactful as this again, I believe we will have a renewed confidence as we come out of this time. I will certainly be thinking further ahead in terms of ‘what if’ and I will be making business decisions with that mentality.”
Boesel is also helping guide other CARSTAR locations, a benefit of the strong North American CARSTAR network.
“CARSTAR has always been a network of tight business owners, and this pandemic has brought many stores even closer,” he said. “I have assisted fellow store owners within CARSTAR for many years and this situation has allowed me to interact with many stores directly more than ever before. As the pandemic rolled its way across the country, different states were affected at different times. I have worked with many store owners to walk them through the processes that we have implemented, talking with them on how we went about financing and sharing ideas on how to navigate the situation.”
When the unexpected happens, Boesel reinforced that it is critical to have a plan for a rainy day, as well as an umbrella for protection such as the relationship with CARSTAR, to navigate the storm.
To learn more how CARSTAR support its franchise partners with a unique portfolio of resources, contact the CARSTAR team.