Conversation with Dave Gross
May 28, 2021
Recently we sat down with Dave Gross, Regional Vice President of Operations, to learn more about him and his thoughts on the future of auto body shop operations.
What did you do before Maaco?
Before Maaco, I was in the residential construction industry for a large production home builder. Then in 2008, the recession hit and the housing industry was devastated. I was only a few years out of school and still trying to figure out if I had chosen the right career. Even though I had seen some success, I did not want to be a part of the roller coaster ride that the construction industry can be. Therefore, I decided to do some research and find an industry/brand that had resilience. That is when a friend of mine suggested Maaco.
How long have you been with Maaco?
I joined Maaco in 2008 as the New Unit Manager and got to travel from the east to west coast helping franchisees see through their dreams of owning a Maaco franchise. In that role, I enjoyed bouncing between the technical issues of running a business and the skills needed to be successful at bodywork, paint and sales. I also enjoyed getting down to the bottom line of the business and talking about profitability. Now, 13 years later, I can confidently say that the resiliency of Maaco is stronger than ever.
What does your role entail as Vice President of Operations for the north region?
As Regional Vice President of Operations, my job is to make sure we continually refine our playbook to keep up with changes in the industry, while also honoring the culture and history of Maaco. This requires being able to constantly adapt to our environment and make sure that we are taking advantage of industry best practices as well as the latest tools, technology and training.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
I think the most challenging part about my job is keeping up with technology. There are a lot of innovators within the industry and as part of my role, we have to investigate these products and services and implement processes that support them in order to see the potential value across more than 400 locations. Additionally, making sure our franchisees have a good mix of trade and retail customers can be challenging. A major component of value in the Maaco model is the flexibility to service your local market. Owners can determine what the greatest demand is in their market and build their business around the needs of their region.
How have operations changed this past year?
In the past year, we have changed the way we support our franchisees in two significant ways. First, we adapted to a touchless sale process to support franchisees through the pandemic and ensure they could operate in this new environment. Secondly, we adopted a social distancing protocol to support our shops. Relying on experience, our method to success has always been supporting our franchisees while being in their body shops. However, due to travel restrictions, we had to get creative by leveraging webinars, screen-sharing events, and safe travel guidelines to conduct our operational coaching.
What do you think will change most about body shop operations in the future?
I believe the touchless sales process is an important tool, one we need to continue exploring. Our online estimator tool provides customers information, without physically interacting with them. Due to COVID-19, people have become accustomed to this touchless sales process and to some degree, will expect this option even post-pandemic.
What can an owner do right now to help better position their operations for future success?
One of the biggest challenges in our industry is finding and retaining good talent. That is why it is so important for our owners to have a relationship with the Collision Education Repair Foundation (CREF) and their local trade schools. I believe this a fundamental building block for our business and something we need to continue to foster so we can become an employer of choice and attract new people to the industry.
What is the best part about your job?
The best part about my job is the people that I get to work with, from franchisees to vendors and team members. They are the reason I am energized every day about the position I have.
How do you spend your free time?
I love Mother Nature and being out in the fresh air. Whether it's hiking, mountain biking or spending time at the beach, and I just love being outside. Thankfully, my kids love doing the same thing and that is how our family spends quality time together.