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Dress to Impress

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Depending on what day of the week it is, you may run into Frank McClosky and see the successful owner of the five-location, Texas-based Frank’s Collision Repair in front of you—or you might see a Willie Nelson look-alike.

When it comes to his appearance, McClosky takes on many forms, from a leprechaun to a mariachi band member to the Easter Bunny. His work uniform is a rotating wheel of costumes that he uses to go out and attract attention in the community. No matter what he’s wearing, one thing that stays the same is his competitive nature and desire to grow his business.

In 2012, when Service King bought a competitor less than a mile away from his Baytown location, McClosky, who had two locations at the time, knew he needed to take his business to the next level. And that’s exactly what he did by adding three locations in the span of six years. So, how exactly was he able to add more locations and get people in the industry to take him seriously as a small business owner? By dressing up, of course.

Showing up at dealerships and insurance agencies in costume has helped him boost revenue and create new relationships. McClosky knows how to have fun, but he also knows the power of a memorable impression and the long-lasting impact it can have on a business.

As told to Tess Collins

 

Our business dropped in ’08– ’09. I had never had a declining year. Every year, my sales grew, but then the recession hit and things got tough. I had to think outside of the box. I started dressing up on the holidays and going around to visit agents to drum up business. This technique also helped me grow to more locations when competition came in.

We have a big employee base and I get suggestions from the people around me. The Easter Bunny is one of the most popular ones that we do. I have a ‘64 Eldorado convertible that we drive around that has the Frank’s logo on it and I dress as the Easter Bunny and ride around in it. While we’re driving around, kids will pull us over or we’ll go visit the old folks’ home. We’re all over social media, and it’s not even us posting—it’s other people. They know we’re coming.

Our advertising all has Frank’s logo on it. We repeat that over and over—it grows the brand. People don’t even know who Frank is anymore, they just think, “Take it to Frank’s,” which is part of our goal.

Someone told me to dress up like Willie Nelson. So I did. When we get into costume, we don’t half-ass it. I got a wig with real human hair and I took it to my hairdresser to get it to look like Willie’s. I play guitar, so I learned a couple of his songs and people went nuts for it.

I think that’s something to which people respond: being honest and willing to be vulnerable. We’re not putting on an act. The costume is one way of relating with our customers.

About seven years ago, I hired a right-hand man, Ben, that I spent a year or two finding. He’s the perfect balance to me—you won’t find him in costume. He’s the guy with the brakes and I’m the one pushing the gas. I look at every business like a three-legged stool with those legs being operations, admin and marketing. Ben takes on more of the operations so that I can take time to do all of these marketing efforts.

Once we started dressing up, we expanded the area in which we marketed. Our five-mile radius grew to 10 and we went out and met with agents that we knew already. They said, “If you move out here, we’ll send you work.” Then, we moved into areas where we knew work would be sent to us.

As we expand, we create relationships. Those relationships created referrals and assistance getting on a DRP. We develop a market before we even open a store. With a strong market, we can have a back load of work.

Our Baytown location, which is the largest collision repair shop in that town, does 200–250 repairs per month, but it’s still only 50 percent DRP. Referrals and repeat business is huge for us. That’s why we market to everyone that touches a car.

My advice for someone that’s struggling with marketing is to quit defending your current position. What I mean by that is that often, people will be mediocre and defend what they’re doing. I’ll gladly help out shop owners that aren’t in my market. Often, these shop owners will defend their position when it comes to marketing rather than learn the skill sets needed to be successful. I’m very committed to educating myself. I’ll go to seminars outside of the industry to find out how to be successful in business. People are too afraid that they’ll come off as not knowing everything.

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