I was at NACE last month and ran into a couple of body shop owners from New York whom I had never met before. They weren’t exactly fountains of words, so I thought I would jump-start the conversation with, “So, what do you think about all this consolidation going on?”
“Consolidation? What’s that?” one of them asked.
I suddenly felt a little dejected. I come to work every day with the goal of educating the collision repair industry on the latest trends and topics, and with this one question I felt a little like all my effort had been for naught.
“But wait!” I said to myself. “Isn’t it naive for you to believe that everyone in the entire collision repair industry knows everything that’s going on?” Of course it is! In years past, when I would attend an educational event in our industry, I would assume the industry was better off because a packed house of 200 people was there with me. And the industry was better off…but still, that 200 represented only a minute portion of the total collision populace – the 1 percent, or 10 percent, or whatever percent you believe stay active and involved in what’s going on.
So I responded, “It’s this trend going on of big shop operations getting bigger by buying other shops.” And then I handed them the September issue of BodyShop Business with the cover story titled (what else?), “Consolidation.”
“Oh,” the shop owner said. “That’s not going on in our area.”
And she was right…at least not on the scale it’s happening in other areas. But her reply reminded me of the fact that all of us need to keep our eye on what’s coming, not just what’s already here. If you see the bus bearing down on you at the last minute, it’s going to be a little difficult to get out of the way. Single-store independents should be figuring out right now how they’ll compete with an ABRA, Gerber or Service King, if and when they come to town. We showed how some shops are doing just that in our October issue. Keep your eye out for more of that content in future issues!
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