CARSTAR President: Network, Dealer Shops Ideal Pairing

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Feb. 27, 2020—CARSTAR has made a recent push to build upon its facilities based in dealerships and, on Thursday, Dean Fisher, president of CARSTAR North America, further explained the reasoning behind the push. 

Namely, Fisher feels the initiative will be a certified success, largely due to dealership shop’s current focus on certifications. In general, CARSTAR foresees a resurgence of collision repair facilities based in dealerships throughout North America.

“When we look out at the scope of independent repairs, although dealerships typically fall under an OEM process, they act like an independent repair shop, even though they’re housed inside a franchise,” Fisher told FenderBender. “We’re also noticing that there’s a great deal of effort to certify those specific shops within those OEM dealerships. We have a really robust operations platform that dealerships can certainly benefit from. 

“So, we have elected to work with dealerships in response to a need that we see and that we think we can fulfill.” 

Currently, nearly two of every five franchised dealerships operate collision repair centers, according to a recent National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) report. At the recent NADA show in Las Vegas, CARSTAR showcased its resources for numerous auto dealers. 

On Thursday, Fisher further explained why the changing dynamics of dealerships have inspired CARSTAR to seek out more dealership partnerships. 

“There’s increased pressure on the dealership to maintain a customer or clientele base from what we call cradle to grave,” Fisher told FenderBender.  “They’re actually beginning to realize that, instead of looking at their body shops potentially not as a profit center, it’s more of a neutral stance that they’ve taken with their body shop, typically operating under a fixed operations platform versus an operations director specific to the collision repair process. 

“As they start to look at that, they realize there’s an opportunity for them to maintain their customer base, not only in the service aspect of a repair, but from a collision aspect of the repair.”

Other factors that CARSTAR officials feel are driving the renewed interest in collision repair facilities at dealerships include the ability, in theory, to capture more insurance-pay repair business, and also the availability of dealership real estate and buildings that are vacant after dealership consolidation.

Currently, the CARSTAR network of independently owned body shops has more than 700 locations in 35 U.S. states and 10 Canadian provinces.

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