Keep it Consistent
Today’s Collision Repair Centers is dedicated to providing the best service possible, but in order to do that, customers may have to go to a different location. Since opening his first location in 1989, Today’s Collision Repair Centers co-owner Bobby Cobb has opened a new location every 14 years, resulting in three locations in Massachusetts. Each shop has a niche market based on its location and its capabilities, which has sometimes confused customers and caused Cobb to rethink how he runs his facilities.
In order to be successful, he knew he needed to create a cohesive brand, but he struggled doing this when each shop serviced a different type of customer.
“The things that make our brand can and should be present in each transaction with the customer,” Cobb says. “The differences in the shop shouldn’t change that. The difficulties arise in making sure the communication and focus remains a top priority in each shop and that this message reaches every employee.”
In the past, Cobb admits that this is something that he’s struggled with, but since opening the third location, he’s become hyperfocused on creating a more consistent brand through a number of different strategies.
Breaking Down the Locations
For the most part, customers can bring their vehicles to any of the locations. However, there are certain cases where a customer may go into one location and be redirected to a different facility, which can create confusion and inconveniences the customer—something Cobb wants to avoid at all costs.
Another priority for Cobb is to make sure that no matter what vehicle a customer has or which location is visited, every interaction and repair has the consistent, high-quality feel that Today’s Collision Repair has created over the years. The struggle has been communicating that each location services different needs, but that each shop is under the same leadership umbrella and provides the same experience.
Cobb’s locations are as follows:
- Chelsea (opened in 1989): Located close to downtown Boston and near a Honda dealership. This shop is Honda ProFirst certified.
- Malden (opened in 2003 ): The MSO’s hub for high-end vehicles such as BMW, Land Rover, Jaguar, Mercedes and Acura. The shop has also has Tesla, Honda, and Acura ProFirst certifications and is on its way to achieving Land Rover and Jaguar certifications.
- Stoneham (opened in 2017): Equipped with both standard and an oversized paint booth, this location can repair high-top Sprinter vans. Before opening this location, Cobb had to turn this type of work away.
Get the Message Across.
Whenever a new location opened, some of the dealerships and customers had a difficult time comprehending that depending on the amount of damage, there might be a location that was better suited for them. It wasn’t always about which location was closest.
Since dealerships were having a difficult time with this and many were confused as to where they should send the work, Cobb enlisted a liaison to help. A few years ago, Today’s Collision hired a service writer that works at the service center fora BMW dealership. It’s his job to go around and make sure that the dealerships in the area know which location to send their repairs.
One of the makes that Cobb has had a particularly difficult time with is Mercedes. Because of the Chelsea location’s proximity to the airport, Cobb says many Mercedes drivers go there first. While this can be fine, depending on the type of damage, it might be more beneficial for them to go to the Malden location first. For example, a smaller job can be sent to either location, but a “trainwreck” may need to be redirected.
When a customer calls, the staff knows to find out what vehicle they have, the type of damage, and where they live in order to direct them to the location that will best suit their needs. Another aspect of the plan is to update the hold message to let customers know in what each of the locations specialize.
Another way that Today’s Collision Repair is communicating this is by updating its website. Currently, the team is reviewing the website to include the different location’s specialities while also getting the message across that all three locations are under the same brand.
Bring it Back to Your Mission.
Today’s Collision Repair hasn’t always had a mission statement, but since creating one in 1995, it’s made a world of difference.
“Our marketing director, Vicki McInnis, and myself realized we needed one because we were struggling with brand identity,” Cobb says.
So, Cobb hired a consultant to help him put it together.
The shop was built on grassroots values, and that was something that Cobb wanted to replicate in each new facility that opened under the Today’s Collision Repair name. The mission statement is posted in each of the shops and serves as a visual reminder of what the brand stands for.
“If we’re ever questioning something that we’re doing, we can just refer to the mission statement to make sure it aligns,” McInnis says.
Another initiative that Cobb has tackled that he hopes will help with consistency is the implementation of SOPs.
“It’s probably been our most difficult task, tying in each location with the same SOP,” Cobb says.
For the last six years or so, Cobb says he’s realized the importance of standard procedures because, especially with the third location, it’s been difficult to remain consistent. Each shop had a set of procedures, but they were pieced together in a binder, making it difficult to share, or they were very specific to the certain location. Cobb knew this needed to change in order to create a cohesive operating approach for each location.
This is going to be a huge area of focus in 2018. As of right now, the SOPs that are currently in place focus on collecting and documenting information. Cobb, along with Today’s Collision Repair’s other co-owner, Kevin Kyes, plan on collaborating with key people in each department—customer service reps, estimators, technicians and painters—to build SOPs that are specific to those key players.
Close to 30 percent of the staff at Today’s Collision Repair has been with the company for over 10 years and 50 percent have been there for over 5 years. With half of the staff boasting over five years of experience with the company, the team knows what’s important to the company and holds the values needed. Cobb says that this was a huge help in opening each location, as he’s been able to move experienced team members into positions at newer locations.
When the Stoneham shop opened, there were three teams at the Malden location, which Cobb says wasn’t necessary. Because of this, he was able to move an entire experienced team to the Stoneham location.
“That team was already familiar with the Today’s Collision brand and was able to lead by example and show the new team members how things were done,” Cobb says.
Listen to Customers.
How does Cobb measure success? By listening to what the customers have to say. Since customer satisfaction is such a crucial part of Today’s Collision Repair brand, Cobb personally calls any customer that submits a review below 5 stars.
“I want to know where we fell short and correct it right away,” Cobb says.