Tying a Unique Brand to Your Business
SHOP: Collision Masters LOCATION: Buffalo, N.Y. OWNER: Frank Todaro SIZE: 30,000 square feet STAFF SIZE: 24 AVERAGE MONTHLY CAR COUNT: 250 ANNUAL REVENUE: $4.2 million
1. Refining the Brand:
Frank Todaro, owner of Collision Masters located in Buffalo, N.Y., wanted to take his brand and give it a facelift that appealed to customers everywhere. Todaro was told by customers that his shop has more of a national feel, the likes of a major franchise. He decided to take his brand in that direction. As he describes it, it’s a large facility with a hometown feel.
After putting a lot of thought and effort into what name would best encompass the type of experience the shop offered, Todaro decided on Collision Masters. It was a natural fit because, according to Todaro, “We are a master at what we do.”
The shop’s slogan, “I got a guy!” came about because customers and acquaintances would contact Todaro and ask him to refer someone for different types of jobs, whether it was collision repair or not. He says he always knows the right person to refer them to.
To add personality to the brand and his slogan, Todaro and his marketing team got a Robert De Niro lookalike who’s been featured on America’s Got Talent and created a video ad campaign that features the lookalike.
2. Developing an Efficient Shop Layout:
Todaro recently opened a second shop on South Park Avenue and both locations were designed with the customer in mind. He worked with a team from BASF to do both of the shops’ layouts and together they came up with the best shop flow.
For his Pearl Street location, they scrapped what the interior used to be and worked on building a circular layout of the shop. Everything follows that flow: where cars are dropped off, they are picked up. With this new layout, cycle time went down and touch time went up. Originally, cycle time was six days on a repair and the shop is now averaging four days. Touch time was at 5.6 and they are now at 7.2.
Because of winter weather conditions in Buffalo, Todaro knew that he needed to have customers inside the shop to safeguard them from the elements. He created a station, in the middle of the shop floor, where customers can pull up and get an estimate.
3. Creating the Right Space:
Once the shop floor was updated, Todaro worked on reconfiguring the shape of the shop’s parking lot. He had to figure out what would be the best place for vendors to drop off parts.
Additionally, he needed to keep in mind customers dropping off vehicles and where the mailman would drop off packages. He made tweaks here and there, such as making sure delivery vehicles had easy access to the front door. This also made it easier for technicians to receive the parts they needed.
4. Standing Out From Competitors:
Another service offered by Collision Masters is same-day auto glass installation. Todaro notes that this can be done while the customer is waiting in the lounge. The shop’s spacious interior also leaves room for the shop to work on fleet accounts. Collision Masters does fleet work for the city of Buffalo, the University of Buffalo and Niagara Mohawk, to name a few.
Moving forward, Todaro will designate this shop to handle the majority of fleet accounts, as well as the everyday customer. Additionally, starting in mid-October, he will designate this location as the home base for apprentice students.
Aside from customer services, Todaro also offers his employees incentives that help build shop culture. He encourages them to take time off and he buys them lunch.