CHICAGO July 10, 2019—CARSTAR's Acceleration 2019 conference got under way Wednesday, and the consolidator's officials said a record number of attendees flocked to the event in downtown Chicago. In a roundtable discussion with media members on Tuesday night, Michael Macaluso, the president of CARSTAR of North America, said this year's event had 1,002 registrants; by late Wednesday, around 1,100 registrants had arrived n Chicago.
The CARSTAR executive, whose employer is celebrating its 30th year in existence, said the consolidator is making multiple noteworthy gains in 2019. CARSTAR officials expect to add nearly 50 more shops by year's end, giving the consolidator slightly more than 720 total.
And, in recent months CARSTAR has seen an increase in dealership groups asking it to take over their collision repairs, providing standards, training and resources.
"We've had some real strong interest across the country from dealerships that have existing body shops looking to join the franchise," Macaluso told the media at the Hilton Chicago. "I think it's for a variety of reasons -- they see the opportunity in the collision space, they have an understanding of the franchise business, being part of an OEM brand, and I think they see the opportunity to do something more than what they're currently doing."
Macaluso also noted that CARSTAR is currently focusing on partnerships with automakers, to ensure that repairs are done according to OEM repair procedures. The executive said customers tend to take notice of OEM certifications and that they help draw customers to CARSTAR shops.
"We use a ton of data and analytics to support the need for more specialized or specific certifications within a marketplace," the president of CARSTAR of North America said. "We did a very deep path-to-purchase study ... which went into a lot of detail of what kind of decision tree is [used by] the customer and, based on the demographics of the customer, what they go to to make that decision. And OE certification is certainly part of that."