Maaco Collision Repair and Auto Painting recognized outstanding performance by its franchisees at its recent virtual convention. One of the top awards is the Maaco “Rookie of the Year.” Two franchisees were honored with this award. Bobby Gery, franchise owner of the Maaco center in Suffolk, Virginia, was one of the recipients.
“Owning a Maaco franchise has been on my radar for a long time,” said Gery. “I have a relative who has been an independent collision shop owner for 40 years, and I saw how long it took for him to build up his business. I also have a friend who opened a Maaco shop, and I saw how quickly he became successful. The main difference was having the benefit of the Maaco brand, and the successful playbook Maaco offers.”
Gery was very specific about having the right location in a high-traffic, upscale business area, and once he found it, he built his ground-up facility, which opened in July 2019. In his first 12 months of operation, he exceeded the $1 million milestone, despite the temporary disruption that the COVID-19 pandemic caused.
“There were enough unknowns in running a new business,” said Gery. “No one had a playbook for operating in a pandemic. But the Maaco operations team went above and beyond to provide support early on when the pandemic hit. They communicated daily and engaged with all franchisees to gather and share best practices to the entire group. Their support was really outstanding.”
When the pandemic began, Gery had a meeting with his team and assured them that as long as he could keep the lights on, everyone had a job. That went a long way in developing loyalty among his team. For a while, that meant his team would do building cleaning and maintenance when business was slow. His team also utilized that time to complete additional training on repair procedures.
“The training that Maaco offers is second-to-none,” said Gery. “From day one, it was important to me to provide my people with all the training and equipment to properly and safely repair any vehicle that came through the door. Raising their skill level also enables us to participate in the Maaco national fleet program. I’m proud to say that we are now a Platinum Certified Repair Center, which is the second highest level of certification in the Maaco system.”
The slowdown in business only lasted about 30 days, during which Gery used every minute of his time to work on bringing vehicles into his shop. He reconnected with customers who had previously brought their cars in for estimates, and he built relationships with local business that had fleet vehicles. Soon the business returned to a level that kept Gery on track to reach his $1 million goal.
Gery said he feels honored to share the Maaco Rookie of the Year recognition, and attributes his success not only to his team, but to the people he has learned from over his 22 years in the automotive industry.
“I’ve managed several car dealerships over the years for other people, and I have had some great managers and some not-so-great ones, and I have learned from them both,” said Gery. “I saw body shops that were well run and some that had room for improvement. I have taken all that and applied it to this opportunity to be my own boss. Being recognized as one of two Maaco Rookie of the Year recipients is a real honor, and it validates that I’m doing something right.”
Maaco is always looking for people who want to become business owners with the benefit of almost 50 years of experience that Maaco brings.