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Log In / Register | Jul 21, 2018

Not as good as it used to be

I've been with Maaco for 34 years. As an owner for 22. At one time this was a great franchise. Tony Martino built a good business model. If you worked hard, paid attention and developed a good crew, you could be successful. I am and I know many that are as well. I also know many that have failed. Because of Maaco? Maybe. But the three that come to mind right off hand, didn't follow the Maaco guidelines. Tried to go too far off on their own and didn't seek help. One owner in Va Beach never went to meetings or the convention. I offered several times to have him spend time at my shop and I offered to visit his shop. He did come right by my shop to test drive a new Dodge Challenger when they came out, but never stopped by my shop. What does THAT tell you about his priorities?

I've built my business up to where it is now by working hard. 12 hours a day or more when needed. I've got a good, experienced crew. My shop is I-CAR Gold Class certified. Not many dealerships or other independent shops are. We have several DRP insurance relationships. We put out nice looking work and nearly 50% of my customers are repeat or referrals.

Now, are there crappy Maaco centers? Yes. But does that make EVERY other dealership or independent shop perfect? Hardly. There are good and bad shops of all sorts. I see it weekly. Like the Ford Escape a local Ford dealer was paid to replace a frame rail and only straightened it. Major safety issue there, but I guess y'all are okay with that since it wasn't done by a Maaco.

Having said that, Maaco today is a far cry from what Tony established. They do nickle and dime us to death. If I were looking at buying a center today I'd probably pass. We don't have nearly the corporate support we did years ago. They've changed advertising companies 4 times in as many years. Bad choices, they say. Pardon me, but if you're so experienced, shouldn't you be able to make better choices? I have personally helped Maaco sell 4 other franchises. Two have flourished the other two have struggled. But seem to manage. The new regime has brought some good ideas to the chain, but their implementation leave a ton to be desired. We are only a commodity now. Driven Brands and Harvest capital (I think) that owns us, is only trying to build the chain and sell us off. Unfortunately, that is the way of big business today. I fear terribly for the chain I've grown up in and for the newer franchisees. If you don't have body shop experience, I don't believe this new group in Charlotte has the ability and foresight to take this chain further. They've cut back on corporate staff so bad there is no way they can support the number of shops. They're talking about 800-1000 centers by 2018. I honestly don't think that'll every happen.

Good luck to anyone buying one today. Tony Martino is probably rolling over in his grave.


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