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Strength in numbers

Midwest shop network has forged strong ties with insurance partners, and is eyeing expansion
Thursday, October 15, 2015 - 07:00
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At a Glance:
1Collision Network

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As the collision industry continues to consolidate, many independent shop owners have been faced with a choice of selling their business, retiring, becoming part of a franchise. But there are some other models emerging that can help these owners keep their businesses, but still gain some of the advantages found with large MSOs and consolidators.

Based in Milwaukee, Wis., 1Collision Network is a group of 21 shops that service the greater Chicago and Milwaukee areas. Rather than act as a consolidator or a traditional franchise operation, 1Collision has contractual agreements with its shops (which can be individual shops or small MSOs) to provide support services for marketing, operations, and human resources, along with shop management software and other resources. "We also have corporate relationships with strategic partners that the shops would not be able to build themselves," says president Jim Keller.

Keller launched 1Collision Network four years ago after being at the helm of the Crash 1 Network for a decade. Crash 1 had as many has 45 shops at one point, but Keller bought out his partners because they had different visions of how to grow the company.

"I wanted to become a larger operation and provide more services and benefits," Keller says. "I really wanted to focus on marketing, human resources, and insurance relationship building to make this into something bigger."

As a network, Keller says 1Collision can provide shops with benefits they wouldn't have access to as a single shop or small MSO. "We have the corporate structure of a consolidator or large MSO, and we offer virtually all of those services to the locations based on what their individual needs are," Keller says. "A shop might be strong in marketing but need help with operations, while another shop might be very strong in operations but they need marketing support. We can tailor our services rather than have a set package. That makes our pricing more affordable."

That flexible approach has helped the company quickly reach its current size, with nearly 220 employees spread among its shops in three states.

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